How Can Kids Learn About Money Without Allowance?

How Can Kids Learn About Money Without Allowance?

At this point, we don’t give our children allowance. Partially because our budget doesn’t allow for it and partially because we don’t see a need for it.  The most common objection we hear regarding this decision is “But how can  kids learn about money without allowance?”

Before I had my first son, I was in the financial services industry for several years. I taught people how to make and how to save money and sat down with a lot of people to help them figure out budgets and retirement plans. It was right up my alley as I had been tracking my own cashflow from the time I was able to count. I was pretty particular as a child and it seems to have paid off in the long run.


My husband began working outside of his family farm when he was about 13 or 14. He borrowed his dad’s quad and worked for various neighbors. He learned quickly the importance of financial planning as he wasn’t the most responsible with the quad and ended up spending a lot of money on repairs. Instead of driving saner (which would have been my first choice) he started saving a portion of his income for quad repairs so he was always prepared. He eventually saved up enough for his own quad and, a couple years later, his own brand new car.


When we got married, we had somewhat different outlooks on the final purpose of money (I was more of a hoarder saver and he was more of a spender) but we both understood the importance of budgets and paying bills on time and not spending money you don’t have. We may have been only 19 at the time but we set up our retirement plan and monthly budget within a couple of weeks of our wedding. That attitude has served us well over the years.

Our parents chose to talk about finances when kids were around so we heard a lot of things growing up that helped us understand how money works.

How does this roll into our parenting journey? Dinner table conversations. Our parents chose to talk about finances when kids were around so we heard a lot of things growing up that helped us understand how money works. They talked about which bill to pay when and how to make sure there was enough in the bank at harvest time to pay custom bills. We overheard conversations about whether it was best to continue fixing the old tractor or invest in a new-to-us tractor. Our parents talked about whether it was better to go into debt to invest in livestock which would make the farm money or whether we should wait until we could pay cash.


Our kids now hear many of the same conversations. As they become older and more capable, they’ll be invited into the office to help pay bills. They’ll learn how to write cheques, read balance sheets, make budgets and cashflow projections, reconcile bank accounts etc. They’ll also learn the difference between good debt and bad debt and how to figure out when to go into both. They are already around when we meet with accountants and have seen us discuss financials with my parents (whom we farm with). I know that our eldest hears everything because sometimes he asks very specific questions after our business meetings. Just yesterday he sat beside me and asked questions as I went through my weekly financial review.

As someone who has seen the financial state of many young families and the lack of understanding when it come to basic principles of money management, I’m reminding you to please involve your children in your finances from a young age. The best way for them to learn is to witness those principles applied in real life situations. It may feel unnatural to involve your children in something that many feel should be private, so start small. Perhaps they could stuff envelopes at bill paying time. If they are older, you could show them how to pay bills online by letting them read the statement and enter the numbers. Maybe you could put your children in charge of recording expenses. However you start, you will never regret teaching them how household money flows.

Do you have any other tips or stories to share about how kids learn about money without allowance?

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Normalizing Birth for Children

Normalizing Birth for Children

My eldest son witnessed his first birth around 1.5 years old. He stood with his little rubber boots on the fence and held on to the cable and watched as the calf emerged, feet, then face, then a wet body slipping out onto the bedding pack. I’d like to say it was a beautiful and life changing moment for him, but it wasn’t. He didn’t think there was anything much special about it. He saw calves of various sizes every day and he must have just realized that the life of a calf has to start somehow. So when I told him that the mama cow was pushing a calf out of her body, he took it as a perfectly normal occurrence.

Over the years, he (along with his brothers) has witnessed numerous births. Thanks to YouTube he has seen elephants, giraffes, horses, dolphins, and several others. Births he has witnessed live include numerous calves and kittens as well as the births of his younger brothers. Yes, you read that right: he witnessed the births of his brothers. And he will likely be present when our newest baby makes his or her appearance earth-side in a few weeks. (If you are interested, the story for the unassisted home water birth for my third son.)
I have been asked by friends and care providers whether I was concerned about traumatizing my kids by having them at their siblings’ births. I explain that I do some prep work including talking about the process, reading stories about birth, and even watching birth videos online. Sometimes this convinces them that it’s “okay” for me to have my kids present (as if I need their permission) and other times they remain skeptical. Inwardly, I’m reminded of how warped most people’s opinions of birth are.

Birthing a child is not a medical disorder or event any more than conceiving or carrying that child is.

My eldest’s attitude toward birth hasn’t changed from the first time he witnessed it: it’s a normal process that has been happening since the beginning of time. Birthing a child is not a medical disorder or event any more than conceiving or carrying that child is. It’s a time that requires privacy, love, and intimacy, much the same as the event that created that new life in the first place.
I believe that farm life has allowed our children recognize that birth is a natural process and not something to be feared or managed. Through farming research and experience, my husband knows that cows labour better if they are left to their own devices and we have a much lower intervention rate than on farms where farmers intervene or manage births within their herd. That was the number one reason why he shifted his mind on human birth (yes, he compared me to a cow, and no it wasn’t the first or last time).
I enjoy research and statistics and all of the research shows that birthing is largely influenced by the mother’s mindset. Speaking from an evolutionary standpoint, women have been birthing since the beginning of time and, therefore, must be properly suited to such a task. From a God standpoint, women were designed to birth and God doesn’t make mistakes. While I’m grateful for the availability of medical intervention when necessary, most women don’t need it and their birth experience is only aggravated by it.
This evening my eldest, nearly 9, asked me why his friend’s sister was born at a hospital and through surgery. I told him that was the mother’s choice based on the information she had received. He told me it seemed silly to need a hospital and surgery for something a simple as having a baby. I agree son. May you keep this peace and trust regarding birth when it comes time for your own wife to have your children.

What are your thoughts and/or experiences with children attending birth? 

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Cloth Diaper Tips

Cloth Diaper Tips

These cloth diaper tips were written for a new cloth diapering mama, by a mom who has cloth diapered 3 little men over the course of the last 7 years. It was written to be a cheat sheet of tips, not a full blown tutorial. You may also  like to read about my favorite cloth diapers.

cloth diaper tips

  1. When changing baby, make sure you fold the Velcro laundry tabs down as you remove the diaper.
  2. Wash every 2 to 3 days at least. Going longer makes it tougher to get them clean.
  3. Start with a soak cycle. If you don’t have a soak cycle, drench the diapers to their full absorbency before washing by adding extra water to the washer drum or adding to the pail liner before tipping into the washer. (You don’t need to rinse until baby is on a lot of solid foods. At that point, tip any poop that comes off easily into the toilet and do a rinse cycle before soaking.)
  4. Use an eco friendly detergent (norwex, Seventh generation, shaklee, homemade, Rocking green, Laundry Tarts etc)
  5. Dry until fully dry, not damp. I just throw the covers and pail liner in the dryer too but you could air dry them (they should last longer if you do).
  6. Chuck them in the basket or drawer and they’re ready to use again.
Extra Tips:
  • Disposable wipes have a tendency to go through the washer so most people find cloth wipes (I use dollar store baby face cloths) much more convenient. 30-40 wipes should be plenty for a newborn. You’ll need less for older babies/toddlers.
  • A mesh laundry bag (held up in something like a large peanut butter container) for dirty wipes prevents wipes from getting lost. Be sure it is big enough to give the wipes lots of room to wiggle clean. Get two, one to wash and one to use. (I also has issues with wipes getting into my washer drainage hose and the mesh bag solved that problem.)
  • A small container of water on or near the change table, freshened every few days, makes it easier to wet a wipe when needed. Pre-wetting wipes is quick but can result in musty wipes that need to be washed even if they haven’t been used.
  • Wet and wring wipes and put them in a plastic sandwich bag for going out.
  • Use a pail liner. Turn it inside out to push the diapers into the washer and you’ll never have to touch the dirty diapers and you’ll rarely have to wash your diaper pail.
  • Keep the diapers in a cool part of the room with good airflow. Avoid sealing the lid onto the diaper pail because they may start to get hot and fermenty. They actually smell less than disposables because you don’t have that icky chemical smell mixed in.
  • Under normal circumstances, you should not have to strip diapers more than about once a year. If you are having problems that require your to strip more  frequently, try revising your wash routine.
  • Most diaper creams are not cloth diaper safe. Coconut oil may help any bum rashes you encounter or there are some great cloth diaper safe creams put there. My personal favorites are Earth Mama Angel Baby and Thirsties.
  • For using cloth on the go, remember your diapers, covers, pre-wetted wipes, a wet bag, and a change pad (flat cloth diapers work well for that).
The Trouble With Tolerance

The Trouble With Tolerance

Tolerance is a buzz word nowadays. Everyone needs to be tolerant. We need to tolerate everyone’s beliefs and lifestyles etc. But is that really what our goal should be?trouble with tolerance

As Christians, we should move beyond tolerance. Jesus doesn’t ask us to tolerate our neighbours. He asks us, commands us rather, to LOVE our neighbour.

How does love look different than tolerance?

An attitude of tolerance means you do your own thing and I won’t interfere. I’ll leave you alone and you leave me alone. What kind of effect does that have on society? It separates us. We end up shattered, broken, and crumbling apart.

Love binds. Love means I’ll help you and be there for you, regardless of your beliefs, lifestyle, or the sins you have committed. Love means realizing that God died and rose for your sins as much as He died for mine. It doesn’t mean that I will support your sins, nor should you support mine. It means that we can show and practice love, regardless. It builds relationship and communities.

Our country is crumbling because of tolerance. The only way it can be rebuilt is through us allowing Christ’s love to flow through to us.

A while back I had a dream that I had cancer and was only given 1-2 years to live. I woke up thinking about what I would change if that were the reality. What “legacy” would I want to leave? What kind of mother would I want my children to remember? The biggest thing God impressed upon my heart that morning was that I want them to know and share God’s love. The first way to accomplish that goal is to love them hard every single day (any mom will agree that, some days, this isn’t an easy task). The second is to continually remind them that their mission on earth is to show love. We need to be so full of love that it flows right out and into society.

Fill up my cup, let it over flow with love.
What the world needs now is love, love and only love.

But not just any kind of love. God’s perfect and healing love. Let’s set a higher standard for ourselves than mere tolerance. Consciously make the choice every morning to take a big drink of the spring of Living Water. Fill yourself with so much Perfect Love that it can’t help but overflow.  That’s what we can do to heal this world.

Being a Christian in a Broken World

The sermon last week was on the sword of the spirit. The pastor reminded us that all the chaos in this world is not a matter of political or religious issues. It is not about flesh and blood. It is a spiritual battle. It is not an attack on a country or people. It is an attack on Christ. The armor of God supports us with being a Christian in a broken world. And we cannot turn a blind eye to the attack on Christ.

The sword is the only offensive piece of the armor of God and it is not even ours. We have the ability to pick up the sword, not our sword.  It belongs to the Spirit and refers to the living and life-altering Word of God. The Spirit uses the Word to comfort, encourage, and convict us and those around us.

Jesus used the Word when He was tempted in the desert. The devil backed down. The Word is active and alive and powerful.

Read your Bible to get it into your mind, let the message penetrate your heart, so you can be prepared to wield it when needed. It is available for us to call on when we are in the fight for our lives.

Christians in this world are in a fight for their lives.

When the enemy makes us question, we can wield the Truth. We get to hold onto to the promises of God. Pessimism is from the devil. It is a lack of trust in God’s promise. In His love.

The enemy has gained ground. He gains ground in our world, countries, society, and in our lives. But the enemy must obey. He will be removed.

We will be free. Free from the darkness and injustice and brokenness. Actually, the truth is that we are already free. We have been released. The enemy has been defeated.

The Explosive Child

The Explosive Child

By Ross W. Greene, Ph. D.

I didn’t even need to read the description of this book to know that it was one I needed to read. Since shortly after he was born, I have struggled to understand his communication style, love language, stressors etc. The first years of his life were filled with a lot of screaming and tears, on both of our parts. Things are much calmer now but there is still so much about this little boy that is still a mystery. So I read and analyze and practice and pray. And I take a lot of deep breaths.

I felt that this book was largely targeted at people who have less attached styles of parenting than I do. There was a lot of talk about consistency and positive encouragement as opposed to degrading and punishing. Those are great tips but what’s a mom to do when she does all of those things and is still struggling? Many of the case studies were about children with disorders but some of the ideas were still beneficial to my relationship with my high need, intense son.

Book notes:

  • these children have difficulty accessing their “hindsight file” and therefore are unable to access the information as to how they’ve handled similar problems in the past.
  • they are unskilled at recognizing the impact of their behavior on others
  • he and I need to take time to reflect on the accuracy of his interpretations, the effectiveness of a given response, or the manner in which his behavior affects others
  • provide cognitive roadmaps that help him stay rational in moment’ he is likely to become explosive (perhaps give advance warning that this situation is something that may be difficult to deal with so pre-plan a way to deal with it calmly)
  • we need him to look at us as people who can help him thing things through instead of as adversaries
  • he becomes disorganized in the midst of frustration
  • how does it feel to the child to be inflexibly explosive? (Probably frustrates him as much as it does me when he can’t maintain control)
  • flexibility and tolerance are skills that need to be learned – they come more easily to some than others
  • the consequence you administered on the back end following the last explosion must be accessible and meaningful to the child on the front end the next time he is becoming frustrated
  • kids need help accessing the file in their brain that contains the critical information or roadmap.
  • is a child resisting because he is not motivated enough of because he is incapable of maintaining the state of mind to walk through the pros and cons of compliance?
  • a disorder is how the problem may be presenting itself but it doesn’t always give indication of the precise difficulties your child is experiencing
  • in a vapour-lock situation, downshift slowly before going into reverse (otherwise you’ll blow out the transmission)
  • Basket A: important behaviors worth inducing and enduing a meltdown over: safety, things that could be harmful to your child, other people, animals, or property, and other non-negotiables. Teaches child that you are an authority figure. (Should initially be a very empty basket).
  • Basket B: Important matters but aren’t worth the meltdown. This is where you will teach your child the skills of flexibility and frustration tolerance. Most important basket. Teaches them how to engage in a give and take, staying calm in the midst of frustration, taking another person’s perspective, coming up with alternative ways to solve a problem. Tell your child, “If we disagree, I’ll let you know if I’m willing to work things out. We will try to think of good ideas.” Start with empathy to signal to your child that you understand what he wants and that you think it is a legitimate desire, and that you are his advocate rather than adversary. Then, “Let’s think of how we can work this out?”
  • Basket C: Unimportant behaviors that aren’t even worth saying anything about anymore. Eating a variety of foods, wearing mittens etc. It is different than giving in because you decide ahead of time to put it in basket C.
  • It becomes you, the parent, who is the primary determinant of whether or not he has a meltdown.
  • Phrases such as No, You must, or You can’t automatically puts it into basket A, so use very rarely.
  • The real world is a whole lot more about resolving disputes and disagreements than it is about blind adherence to authority. 
  • Sometimes basket decision making can be delayed. “I’m not yet sure if that’s negotiable or not.”
  • some children have trouble actually recognizing that they are frustrated or even experiencing things like hunger or fatigue that is leading the to frustration
  • Use rudimentary works for feelings: happy, sad, frustrated. At the end of the day ask “What made you happy? Sad? Frustrated?” Then start expanding to confused, disappointed, excited, bored, annoyed etc.
  • A child walking away our of frustration is a good comping mechanism. He doesn’t want to hurt you.
  • Keeping your child coherent in the midst of frustration is goal number one. A frustrated child needs help.
  • Why is this so hard for my child? What’s getting in his way? How can I help?
  • Sibling relations: each child needs help/attention in different areas.
  • don’t allow inaccurate inferences about each other get in between relationships.
  • Consequences not enforced detract from your credibility
  • vapour-lock commencing means “I’m stuck. I need help!”