Trying to find something that motivates teenagers is difficult to say the least.

Especially teenagers who are as stubborn as a couple of mine are.

We’ve attempted to offer money for “big” jobs – but after just 20 minutes, the jobs are abandoned and left for Hun and I to handle.

I’ve resisted paying them for household duties as they are part of the family – as such, they should be contributing.

That’s been a failure as well.  I won’t go into details why – but suffice it to say, I’m well aware of why this doesn’t work in my family.

For a long while, I resorted to just giving up and allowing the house to fall into disarray.  If they didn’t care what the house looked like, why should I?  After a while, they did pick up…..but still not as well as I had hoped.  Plus, I’m positive that a messy house helped contribute to my depression.

I had to find another way to get the help I so desperately need.

I finally broke down and resorted to bribes.

I’m now paying the kids for help… far, it seems to be working (to a point).

When I brought up the idea to my first target, I had to have a very clear conversation about what I expected.  I told them, “If I’m going to pay you to help me out, I expect the work to be done to my level of expectations, not your level.”  And then I laid out exactly what I expected for each area.

They readily agreed.

Now, I’m expanding to the other kids, based on their interests, strength in that particular area and the amount of money I have available.

Monkey has agreed to completely clean house a minimum of every other week.  When she puts her mind to it, she cleans wonderfully and does a really good job.  Our agreement allows her to clean at her own pace (so she can still hang out with friends), as long as she alerts me to the areas she’s cleaned when it’s done so she gets credit for it. (With 4 kids, two dogs and activity always going on at our house – as long as the area was at least briefly clean during the 2 week period – I’m okay with that!)

Rowdy has agreed to cook 5 dinners a week.  He’s taken a keen interest in cooking, can cook delicious food with little direction and likes to do it.  He’s usually home by 6pm or earlier most days, has no real obligations outside of school work and is open to suggestions from me on how to make the meal the easiest way with the least amount of work and mess.

Buddy has agreed to take care of all of the dog duties and trash.  While that doesn’t seem like much, it requires a daily commitment, 7 days a week, twice a day.  He thrives on routine, the more consistent the better, and, except for marching band season, he’s home consistently as well.

LaLa – LaLa works, just as we do; and I haven’t had the opportunity to talk with her about what I want her to help handle.  It will be something that makes sense based on her schedule, but still helps us out – although I doubt we’ll pay her – maybe we’ll just call it her “rent” payment.

Don’t worry – they still have regular chores and their own laundry to do.

Plus, the agreement is – don’t do the work, don’t get paid.  There have been a couple of weeks where they didn’t get paid.  That makes them sit up and pay attention and the next week is better.  They have also attempted to pull a fast one on me and claim they did more work than they really did.  I don’t allow them to get away with it and remind them that I expect better from them.  They know what my standards are and I pay them accordingly.

I’m not horrible to them though.  I offer concessions depending on school schedules and tips on how to make things better or easier for them.  I pay more for work that goes above and beyond (which just happened this week for the first time).

We’ll see how long this arrangement lasts.