Tonight I spent a lot more money than I probably could have, but a lot less money than I would have. Let me explain.
We have a long hedge dividing our property line from our three neighbors. Unfortunately, since it's a hedge and not a fence, it must be maintained via trimming. We got a notice from the HOA that we needed to trim our hedges or we would be fined. This is all fine and good. Neither hubby nor I enjoy yard work, and so we had definitely put it off too long.
Hubby decided he was going to pay our lawn maintenance company to trim the hedges and haul away all the clippings. Well, that's what he intended to do, but life got in the way and as the weeks passed, and it got closer to the deadline, he realized that he needed to just get out there and trim them himself. Let me just say I'm so glad I married a man who is willing to do things he doesn't like because he knows it's what is necessary. In this day and age it's hard to find a man who shows that kind of maturity.
I decided to use the hedge trimming as a lesson in character for our children. I've told my children in the past when the hedges were trimmed that I would pay them $5 for each trash bag they filled with clippings. These are not standard trash bags mind you, they're the largest size lawn and leaf bags available, and they must be filled to my specifications. I do not force them to do it. I keep it optional, and I've been pleasantly pleased with the initiative it brings out in them. It's been interesting to see which children are excited about the prospect to earn some extra cash, and which ones take things for granted and would rather not "get their hands dirty."
Tonight my best friend's children were also here. We were watching them while she and her husband went on a date. (It's hard to find a cheap sitter for four kids these days.) To be fair, I put the offer out to everyone. I got an overwhelming positive response. Keep in mind, I've known these kids for the past 8 years. My friend and I are comfortable enough that I knew she would not mind if I put them to work. In fact, I'm pretty sure if I had told them they had to pick up branches without pay, she would have backed me up. I was pleased that all of the kids were willing to work.
It took a couple of hours, and in the end we filled 15 bags. If we had hired the lawn company to do the work it would have cost $100. We didn't really save much by paying the children, but I believe the character they will learn from working for their money is worth every cent I paid them. To top it off, I witnessed such great attitudes and willingness to work together, that I would have paid them more if I'd had it in my budget. Several times the older children willingly helped the younger ones fill their bags, knowing they would not be paid extra for doing so. I can't stop smiling when I think of how great they all did tonight.
Oh, and just to break it down. The three oldest boys filled three bags each. The oldest girl filled one bag, but went on to help the younger two girls fill all of their bags. The two younger girls filled 2 bags each, and the youngest boy filled one bag and started on a second before giving up. The youngest girl is only two and ran around the yard the whole time looking cute. I'm thinking I can squeeze in an extra dollar for the oldest girl since she essentially filled two bags, knowing she would only get paid for one. I am so proud of her willingness to help others.