Simple Summer Fun: Putting the Kids to Work

When our big kids recently asked if they could expand our suburban zoo by a pair of pet bunnies, we asked THEM how they would earn the money to make that happen…


We choose not to pay our kids a traditional allowance, their household chores considered just part of being a family. If they want to earn money, they must work for it.

Working hard, earning money, planning, saving and budgeting for purchases are life skills that even young kids can master, and become projects that enrich our abbreviated summer home-school studies.

Years ago, when they purchased our first guinea pig, the girls earned the funds by picking and selling blueberries. We lived in the fertile Willamette Valley where a quick trip to a local farm was a fun outing and yielded a great return on their efforts.

Most recently, our girls have enjoyed a string of pet-sitting gigsCaring for a trio of cockatiels for ten weeks and completing three separate stints tending to neighbor-kitties for days at a time. Pet-sitting seems to be the perfect amount of responsibility, as they aren’t yet old enough to babysit children yet have ample experience with critters, and time and love to share with furry friends.

We happily paid them for helping with yard work, compensating them on a per-rock rate for each stone that they unearthed prior to putting in the lawn. They kept count and tabulated their earnings. Their work being self-directed, they soon gleaned that the harder they worked the more lucrative it was.

When my brothers were young they would climb my mom’s cherry tree to harvest the fruit she couldn’t reach, then pull their bounty around the neighborhood in their red wagon, peddling their wares to appreciative neighbors.

My friend’s girls each buy a calf from their grandfather’s ranch in the spring, dutifully raising them for 4H, then showing and selling them at the county fair.

With many homes in our neighborhood still under construction and ripe with hard-working laborers, I definitely foresee a lemonade stand in our near future.

returning the STILL ALIVE cockatiels to their owner after ten weeks

Center Sister recently purchased this with her own money. Yes, there is a bunny inside.


Even though they can’t yet acquire a job as a barista (my first job) or making pizza (handsome husband’s), there are many ways that kids can work hard and earn their own money during the summer months. What are some more fun ideas that I haven’t thought of?