Carpool Lane

Carpool Lane - Meet Joline for a "CuppaJo" as she juggles two kids in school, homework, extracurricular activities and trying to find some "me" time.

 

 

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Why I prefer cash over gift cards for my children

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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Image result for child with empty piggy bankI've been very open about not paying my children for chores, although we do use a "job board" for projects that are above and beyond the daily tasks of "clean your room" and "unload the dishwasher". When my kids need cAreash, they bid, apply, and if chosen, complete the job for a modest income.

It's working. Most recently, my son organized my entire spice rack alphabetically. He took time to remove all the contents, wipe down the area, and return the jars in a user-friendly order. Frankly, I didn't want to do it. So I pawned it out.

 I've learned, however, that my children really don't understand money due to the fact that they don't have enough with which to practice responsible use:

 They are not adept at handling/carrying money.
They do not know how to budget money.
They are not used to saving money.
They don’t experience the importance of tithing money.

 They really don’t know how money works.

 And while I realize they are not reconciling checking accounts, paying bills,  or managing investments, they do need to learn that $10.00 is not something I can just give them at random because they are jonesin’ for a visit to Grandpa Joe’s.

 At ages 14 and 10, my children are old enough to learn that money doesn’t (say it with me) grow on trees. I can’t stand cliches. But, it’s true, cash doesn’t just (snap) appear. They truly don’t understand this. Sounds crazy, I know. To them, cash flow is unlimited.

 Gift cards don't help to teach the valuable skills of giving, saving, and spending.

They need to learn how to actually assess whether they have enough money for what they want, pay for it, get the change, and discern whether they can still purchase that latte they may want later.

 This important process is not visible or tactile with merely handing over a plastic gift card. 

 For a child, a gift card mimics the action of paying via a credit or debit card.

And we all know what happens with those. American households hold an average of $15,000 in debt on their credit cards. Credit is so easy to use because we aren’t staring at an empty wallet telling us we can NOT purchase what we want. Nothing is stopping us from spending freely.  Trust me, I know. I used to be the one with $15,000 in credit card debt. Gift cards teaching spending. I need to be teaching them how to save and give as well. (They need cash for that.)

 When my kids receive cash, they have to plan how to use it.

They tithe, save, and allot money for spending. They give thought to how that money will be used best. When using their own funds, they put that second package of candy back on the shelf. They decide not to add so many gummy worms to the froyo. They give at church. They cover dinner for a basketball teammate who forgot cash on the night of an away game. When the money runs out, they see it run out. The bank is dry.

Gift cards have the potential to teach mindless spending – thus mimicking or training credit card use. Why can't we just gift them cash, so they can actually see the process of it being spent and decrease as they make purchases? If they only have gift cards, they can never learn overall money management.


What are your thoughts? Aside from whether or not one thinks gift cards make a good gift, what are the teaching implications for our children. In this electronic age, are our children properly earning how handle actual cash?




Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 14 and 10, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you allow your children to walk places alone?

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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It's been in the news lately. How young is too young for a child to be at a park, or walking about town - alone?

Most recently, a Maryland family found themselves under investigation for allowing their children, ages 10 and 6, to do just that.

We live in a small town, 2 blocks off our main street, 3 blocks from a local church, and 5 blocks from the library. At ages 12 and 8, my children would walk to the local coffee shop - alone. At 9 my son would ride his bike to the library - alone. Now, at 10, he walks to the local church - at times with a friend, also 10, and most recently, alone.

A few Sunday's back, my husband was guest preaching at a local church a few blocks from our house.  I was booked to speak about fitness at a local Bridal Fair and could not attend. My daughter was swamped with a science project, a paper, and studying for a few tests. We gave her permission to remain home from church that morning. (Yes, sometimes a Pastor's kid needs a Sunday off.)  My son, wanted to see his Dad preach. Rather than heading in super early with my husband, he asked if he could just walk over to the church in time for the service. 

We didn't hesitate - of course! We told him what time the service started, suggested what time he start walking, and left it at that.

He walked himself to church that morning. 

I think back to my childhood. By age 10 I was riding my bike to the local pool and walking several blocks to play with friends who lived on the other side of our subdivision.

What has changed?

The "times"?

The world? 

Our fear?

Does it make me slightly nervous to let my kids walk alone?

You better believe it.

Do I still allow it?

You better believe it.

I read the news. I am not consumed by it.  I am aware of atrocities, and don't naively believe my small town to be immune from danger. I have a healthy concern for my children, without stunting their growth.

I believe my kids need to learn responsibility, independence, and how to problem solve and make decisions. This is just one of many ways to do so.

Is there a right or best age when kids can walk the neighborhood by themselves?

 


 



Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 14 and 10, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest!

 

 

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Birthday Reflection

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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My 13 year old is now 14.

I woke this morning and began combing through pictures from her first year of life. I wasn't pining. Just reflecting. Indulge me for a bit.

When I got married, I wasn't sure I wanted children. My husband knew this and didn't press. I've always been pretty selfish with my time, and I wasn't willing to share it, or him for that matter, with anyone. We were young - 22, and just out of college. The subject of children wasn't even in the range of being close enough, to being anywhere close enough, to even being in the vicinity of being on my radar.

Our married life began. He managed a coffee shop while attending grad school. I worked full time at a local college while also directing their musicals. Along with getting back on stage myself, I also taught classes at a performing arts workshop. We froze in our first apartment (come to think of it, not much has changed from that apartment to this drafty old house) and enjoyed our free time when we weren't at one of the many side jobs we held along with our full-time ones: house-sitting, parking cars for a nearby restaurant, lawn care, cleaning fish tanks, performing in murder mysteries, a gig dressed up as Captain Crunch (for which I got paid in cash and boxes of Captain Crunch) . . . we made it work.

It wasn't until close to 10 years later that we had our first child.

She turned 14 today.

Wow.

One of the most vivid memories I have of her birth was calling out her name while I was still strapped down during an emergency c-section. Following delivery, they whisked her off to the side to do all those pokes and prods they do to new babies. As I couldn't hold her immediately, I turned my head towards her, as it was the only part of my body I could move, and spoke.

"Harper. Hi. It's Mommy."

She turned her head in my direction. And was still.

I kept talking.

She knew my voice. The one that sang, read stories, and prayed while I carried her. I had read that the baby could hear while in the womb, and even recognize voices, but how could I have known this to be true until . . .

She turned her head in my direction.

She may be 14, but I still sing, read stories, and pray. Even if I'm told to knock it off with the singing.

We now binge-watch Gilmore Girls together, rather than Baby Einstein.

We choose chips covered in cheese over cheerios.

I don't pick out her clothes any more.

And she still hears my voice. Whether she applies what I share is up to her now, but I know she's listening.

Because often, that once tiny little baby, who was too big for preemie clothes, but too small for newborn clothes, turns to look at me with those big blue eyes, gives me a little smile, maybe a head on the shoulder, and without words, tells me she's listening.

Happy Birthday, little girl.



Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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Our new job board for the kids

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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photo(2)I've mentioned in the past that we don't pay for chores.

And, we still don't.

Only, my kids are now 14 and 10. They like to have money to use in town at the candy store and local coffee shop. There are games and music they want for their iPods. They talk about wanting "this", and how they are going to buy "that". They want to save money. They have even expressed wanting to treat a friend now and again.

BUT . . . . THEY DON'T HAVE MONEY.

Until now.

Enter: Our new job board.

I wanted to use a little creativity to teach my children that they must earn an income - it won't be handed to them. I didn't want to use our daily and weekly household chores for this purpose, for we feel those are the natural part of being a contributing member of our family. So, choosing some "over and above" needs that we have around the house, I went the independent contractor route. Now, if the kid's need cash, they can check the board. Upon reading the job offerings, they can:

  1. BID on the job
  2. INTERVIEW for the job.
  3. BE HIRED at an agreed upon wage. (Some of their bids are too high.)
  4. COMPLETE the job in the agreed upon time frame.

Examples of current jobs for bid?

  • Sorting almost 3 years of household statements (utilities, banking, etc.) by year. (I don't even want to tackle that one.)
  • Cleaning out the Dining Room sideboard with Mom. (Full of years and years of I don't know what.)
  • Breaking down every empty box from Mom's recent office decluttering project. (Doesn't sound like a big job, but, um, you were not there.)

The bids are in.

Time for interviews!

Right now, this all seems like a great idea. Then again, I have a lot of great ideas that go nowhere. This, however, has potential due to my children's ages, their desire to have spending money, and the simplicity of the activity. Choose a job, name your price, talk it over, and get it done. So far, both bid on the same job. And while my son's bid was lower, I hired my daughter, because my son's room was completely trashed, and I felt he needed to put his focus there. They both rallied for it, but dibs will definitely go to the one keeping of with their other responsibilities.

See, those bedrooms, the laundry, and emptying the dishwasher? Sorry, kiddos, those chores are still expected - free of charge.

How you you handle giving your older children spending money?




Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

 

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To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Loosening Up Social Media Rules

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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She had a strong pitch. It appealed to my softer side.

"Mom, have you heard of google+?"

"Yes, but I don't understand how it works."

"A few of the kids in my class and on my basketball team chat on it."

"Oh. That's cool."

Silence.

"Um, did you want to ask me something?"

"A couple of the girls asked me if I can join. You know, so we can chat?"

Up until now, there has been no Facebook. No Instagram. And no Twitter. I've not allowed any social media. I don't even understand how Google+ works!

(Does anyone really know how Google+ works?)

This year has been so positive for my middle-schooler. The move from a larger school to one where her entire 8th grade class consists of about 18 kids, has been a huge confidence builder. The entire middle school, 6th-8th, mix and hang together. Just last week I enjoyed watching them engage in a very spirited White Elephant gift exchange - all of them circling the gym with a pile of wrapped presents in the center. The community we've been wanting for her has been found, both in the classroom, and with her team on the basketball court.

So, I wasn't surprised by her request. I WAS surprised about the platform.

Google+?

Apparently.

We made an agreement. As long as I have her google password, and can access her page (if that's what it's even called), she may "hangout". She may only add people from school. My snooping thus far, has revealed photos of all the Graeter's ice cream her grandparents brought in from Cincinnati, cupcakes she baked, and a hilarious joke from a friend concerning the current state of health for  all the Webkinz that have "died" due to neglect. 

Am I nervous about loosening the grip?

A little.

Middle-schoolers aren't the best verbal communicators in the world, so I struggle with this mode of interaction. Will something someone writes be misunderstood? Will feelings be hurt? We as adults screw up on social media all the time. I'm just hoping her google+ experience doesn't go farther than movie posters, funny memes, and the "I am watching TV" updates.

And then there's the amount of time she's "hanging out". We've got a self-admitted iPad addict here - her words. I'm in agreement. We will have to be very careful about overuse.

So, yes, I have concerns.

I'm also quite fond of her new friends.

Thus, we're in.

And while I can't physically be with her all the time, Mama's got game on social media. I'm watching.

Are your kids on any social media sites? Which ones? Do you have access to their pages?




Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

 

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.