Just yesterday I saw that my 7yo, Dulce, and my 4yo, Alejandrita (alay-hon-dri-ta), were playing "mail delivery" with each other. I pondered, "What are they using for mail?"
We don't own a computer printer, but I buy a ream of paper (500 sheets) for them to draw on. Each drawing gets numbered and put into their folders so they can see their own progression (as well as me).
I found that they were using the white copy paper. I smiled and said "Okay, but I have to warn you, Dulce, you owe me 10 cents for every page."
"500 sheets of paper costs money, sweetie. That's why we don't bother to have a printer - the cost of ink plus paper makes it better just to read the computer screen."
Dulce said "But my mommy took all my money."
Maria, my 10yo, added a clarification "That's because you left it in your pockets."
House rule: any money left uncared for is claimed by the finder - hence why dad never has any money on his person - but that works both ways.
I said "Then you'll have to do some chores to earn some money to pay me back." I started counting folded paper with scribbles on it, and Maria said "I'm not getting you out of this one, Dulce."
I counted up 32 sheets of paper. The cost of her expending resources for fun visibly sank into her. "I'm going to have to work for a whole day to earn that (bit exaggeration, but close)." she said.
"Okay." I said. "You can use more paper if you want, but that'll cost you. I give you the paper for free because I want to see your drawings and creative work, or school work."
My girls have plenty of games that don't involve wasting anything - it was a perfect opportunity to...
- Make sure the paper isn't wasted.
- Teach my little girls the value of things they see as magically replenish able.
I thought Dulce had $8 but, apparently, she left it somewhere and her mother found it. My wife will really keep it, too - treats herself to a thrift store. And these girls don't get an allowance, any money they have is either earned or, less likely, found in my pockets.
It might sound hard but - my 10yo went through the same process. Now she doesn't lose her money and doesn't spend it quickly or frivolously, either.
At any rate - play with my kids, I tickle them, rough-house, chase them around, have them all try to wrestle me to the ground (my hamstrings are a favored target), and even my 10yo girl isn't embarrassed to sit in my lap and talk an hour away, though sometimes I have to ask her to shift her weight to some other part of my lap that still has blood circulation.
It's great to know I'm on the right train track. I run into too many parents these days who act shocked that we make our children work - and I keep wondering "What do you think they are going to do when they become teenagers? Magically become hard workers who handle things for themselves one day?"