Monday, May 2, 2016

Lunch Lessons (for the kids)

On my phone calendar there is a reminder that goes every Sunday morning about 7am to do "Household Management".  Some Sundays I'm not even awake yet when the little ding goes off.  Some Sundays I ignore it.  Honestly some Sundays I don't even notice it.  When my calendar goes off, it is just one little ding and nothing else.
Yesterday I did some of the tasks though.  School lunches are always a biggie.  Different from prior years, I haven't spent a ton of time on lunch prepping this year.  The kids are old enough to make sandwiches.  The last few times I've done muffins, they didn't all get eaten.  I haven't really had the ambition to do my huge batches of home made popcorn.  So I buy enough healthy groceries for the kids, they have a laminated chart of what they should back (i.e. entree, healthy side, fun side, dessert), and no one has starved this year.
We have had to change how we handle school lunches for the kids.  The school has a wonderful program where a parent can go online and deposit money in to the lunch account for the student.  The rule at our house is that each kid gets a drink a day and one hot lunch per week.  For whatever reason, this year in particular has found a problem with charging breakfasts or additional lunches.
With our journey in to Dave Ramsey budgeting and all, I found this a good opportunity to make a few points before we put the kibosh on the charging lunches.  Whether the money is in the account or not, the school lets the children charge.  So sometimes I get an email that one student has overdrawn, I get online and I find that 3 children have overdrawn.  There isn't any consequence for the student, it rests on the parent . . . except in this house.
The weekly commission chart, from a few months back, for the children has been working very well.  I would say that to-date, it is the best method we have encountered for multiple children / multiple chores.  The problem for the children is that payday only comes on the weekend.  So they decide during the week to charge an extra lunch here or a breakfast there, knowing that they will be getting paid on the weekend and they can pay for their school food.  Like an interest-free credit card, kind of, don't you think?
Just like for adults though, the children get to payday and they don't get any money because they've already spent it.  Some weeks the children have still owed us money after their payday - so they've had to go a chore of our choosing to pay off the rest of their debt.
We are at the point now where I've called the school and put restrictions on their lunch accounts so that this over-charging can't continue.  The kids have found though, that if they sweet talk the lunch people, they can still charge here or there.  And I was very impressed to have two of my children come to me with cash to pay for the extra that they charged, without me calling them on it!
This week I finally put up envelopes on the bulletin board with the week's hot lunch money for each child.  It'll stay in the envelope until they pull it out.  No reminding from mom or dad.  If they want one hot lunch a week, they'll have to be responsible enough to remember to grab their free money for it.  And if they want more than one, they'll have to grab their own earned money.  I'm liking this!
Tonight I am thankful for weekly tasks to stay organized.  Not only did the monthly event calendar get updated, the monthly hot lunch calendar was posted so the kids can decide how to use their money, and we ended up having a family discussion again about being responsible, working hard, and budgeting their paychecks.  I am still rereading "Smart Money, Smart Kids" in my free time.  I am excited to see the harvest of the skills we are planting in the children!

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