What can they do?
- Sales jobs: your kids could run an ice lolly or juice stand, or organise a yard sale, or make cash selling all those old toys they no longer play with.
- Service jobs: there are plenty of little jobs that your children can quite easily get involved with. If they’re a bit older they can try tutoring or coaching other kids (teaching computers, maths, reading or sport) or helping out the elderly – for example by reading the newspaper to them or picking up groceries from the local store.
- Babysitting: a great idea for teenagers – it’s both pocket and homework friendly.
- Other jobs: kids can do anything – gift wrapping, washing cars, mowing lawns, walking, sitting and grooming pets, babysitting, delivering papers, window cleaning. They’re only really limited by their own initiative!
It may be a good idea to make up flyers or business cards. Go door to door and hand them out to neighbours and friends. Have fun and let your child be creative, but make sure their flyers include:
- the type of service on offer
- the cost
- any promotions (offering promotional offers and discounts is a good way to get started)
- contact details (this should be your home number – you probably want to speak to all the people they are working for).
Whatever they do, it is likely you will need to buy some supplies, whether it’s oats to make flapjack or a bike for a paper-round – for things like car washing you’ve probably got suitable materials already. Bear in mind that you’ll have to guide the little ones to cater both to what people want and how much they’re willing to pay. If they are setting up a stall then ice lollies aren’t going to sell at all in November, but then they won’t sell on a hot summer’s day if you charge too much. Here’s a guide to help you with prices:
- Lemonade stand: Between 50p and £1 per drink
- Washing cars: £5 per car
- Mowing lawns: anywhere from £5 to £20 (depending on size of lawn)
- Groom pets: between £5 and £7
- Babysitting: £5 an hour, with overtime pay after midnight
- Delivering papers: £5 per day to £20 a week.
Babysitting is probably the most popular way for teenagers – particularly girls – to make money. It is a great way for them to earn and learn as long as they are mature enough for the responsibility: the NSPCC recommends children be 16 or over. To check whether it is right for you child, try leaving them in charge of siblings or young relatives. Here are some to tips for anyone babysitting young children:
- Always get the contact number for the parents while they are out. Have all emergency numbers handy.
- Establish hourly rates before starting the job and remember double-time pay is expected after midnight.
- People need to trust you with their children so always be polite. Don’t invite friends over, smoke or eat left over food from the fridge, and try to clear away toys after the children have used them.
- Find out the children’s bedtime routines (bath times, stories etc) and be aware of any house rules about snacking or watching TV.
- Always have all doors locked while you are inside and never answer the door when you are home alone in the evenings with the children.
Be clear about what time you expect parents to be home. If they are running very late remember to charge extra for overtime.
As a parent, it is always difficult to strike the balance between letting your child become more independent and protecting them from danger. Here are some pointers to make sure your kids stay safe.
You will need to use your own judgment in assessing what level of responsibility your kids will be able to handle, and how able you will be to deal with consequences if something to go wrong. For example mowing lawns can be a money spinner for kids, but the sharp blades are very dangerous. Cleaning work is good but detergents often contain nasty chemicals.
If your kids are doing any kind of work, you will need to judge where you will allow them to do it. Generally, particularly for younger children, it is a good idea for them to work as close to home as possible. Similarly, if your kids want to wash cars or groom pets, you will need to think if you would be more comfortable with them doing it at your place or at their client’s home.
Be sure to meet and have the contact details for anyone your kids are working for. It is often also a good idea to drive them there and pick them up yourself, particularly if they are out babysitting at night.
Finally, be wary of advertising on the internet: It can be very difficult to monitor who is contacting your child.