Help Needed: Do Kids Mow Neighbors’ Lawns Anymore?

Hey Readers — Here’s a query from reader that I’m curious about, too. Weigh in! — L.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY2mgrEqjVI]
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Dear Free-Range Kids: My name is Stacey Gordon and I have noticed that I never see children doing the things that we did when we were kids.  They seem to be supervised at all times and never have any “just kid” time.  Nothing seems to be expected of them. It is as though they are treated as infants right up until the time that they are expected to wake up one day and magically become adults… without any practice.
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I caught a thread in our local neighborhood Yahoo group.  Someone was asking if there were any kids that did yard work for summer as they would love to hire one.  People fired back answers. One person suggested that kids were spoiled by their parents. Recently, in this same neighborhood, someone called the police when they saw some unsupervised kids IN THEIR OWN YARDS.  My response to the thread was along the line of, “If the police are called if children are playing in their own front yard unsupervised, imagine what kind of trouble the parents would be in if they let the kids mow the lawn!” So my curiosity came from this neighborhood conversation.
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As children, we would hustle for money any chance we got.  In the city of Yonkers, on those rare snow days, we’d get out and shovel and help clean off and dig out cars for the folks who had to get to work.  They were always grateful and would throw us a few bucks. In summer we would go to the local grocery store (one of many we could walk to) and stand outside and help customers carry their bags to the car for tips.    We would later pool our money and go to the local pizza joint and chip in  for an entire pizza and a pitcher of soda.  If there was money left over we went to the candy store for treats and baseball cards.  Making our own money made us feel independent and grown up.
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It seems that in many locations that children are no longer able to be unsupervised while playing in their own yards. Do kids still do these things? There are no kids (a few infants maybe) in my current neighborhood so I have no way to judge. Does anyone still see children mowing yards for money anymore? By “children” I’m thinking anywhere from age 9 and up.  I recall in years past, in the suburban neighborhoods, my cousin and other kids would go door to door soliciting yard work.  Would a kid even be allowed to touch a lawn mower now, much less seek gainful employment in the neighborhood?  Is it fear on the parents’ part? Is it laziness on the kids’ side?  Are kids just spending too much time being scheduled, or playing on computers? What’s the story? – -Stacey, who writes the blog SouthGeek.

Sure, kids can use TOY lawnmowers. But what about the real thing?

134 Responses to Help Needed: Do Kids Mow Neighbors’ Lawns Anymore?

  1. Claire53 July 25, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    I’m interested to see the answers from other parts of the country, but in Southern California kids no longer do these jobs, which are now done largely by Latino immigrants. Ever seen the satire film “A Day Without a Mexican?” I am atents set the impression that many kids these days just won’t do such jobs. I may be wrong about that part.

  2. Emily July 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    I grew up in southern California (and now live in Arizona so there isn’t a whole lot of grass). Like the above commenter, I don’t actually know anyone who does their own yard work, let alone have their kids do it. I think my teenage sister’s boyfriend does, though, and she thinks his parents are mean.

  3. enyawface July 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Well, apparently, in the State of Washington, it warrants questioning by two officers. 6 years ago, just a few months after I moved to the Seattle area to house sit, a couple boys came riding up the street, dumped their bikes in the drive way and came knocking on the door. They said they were trying to make money to pay for football equipment and wanted to know if they could mow the lawn again. They had mown it for the friend I was house sitting for, in the past. They looked a little young I was guessing 10, but they said they had done it before, and the lawn did need to be mowed, so I told them yes and that I also had some other work they could help with, painting some wood brackets and holding an a/c to balance it in the window while I installed it. They did the work, did exactly what I’d asked, I paid them the amount agreed upon, about 1/5 what the day labor place had quoted me for a days work, and the boys had done a days work. They came back a couple weeks later and asked again to do some work, I had them wash the cars. That same weekend I had seen a rabid raccoon in the yard and reported it. A few days later, having never met a Washington officer or animal control, I saw two men in uniform came walking down the street and checking out each house and yard. Assuming them to be animal control, I went to the door and asked if they were here about the raccoon and was informed they were from the local city police department (that can never respond because the house is outside of the physical city limits). They asked if I had had any boys at the house mowing the lawn, wanted to know how I met these boys, why would I have an 11yo mow the lawn, why did I pay them so much. Why was I outside watching them mow the lawn and do other work? Had I ever been in trouble with the law? Had I ever been accused of sexual abuse on a minor? Then they asked to see my computer, at which I asked for the 2nd time in the conversation if they had a warrant, they laughed and asked me if they needed one. I told them if they wanted to see my computer or continue the conversation, they most certainly did. Finally they left, when I called the captain on duty and informed him I was contacting my private attorney, they returned my call an hour later and told me I had nothing to worry about and they would be talking to the parents and would close the case, at which I stated they could inform the parents that although the boys did nothing wrong, they were no longer welcome on the street much less at that house again.
    So, in short answer, no, kids do not mow Neighbor’s lawns any more, at least not without it being followed by a couple of police officers intense grilling, until legal action is threatened. (On another note, about 6 months later the home owner returned home, he wanted a copy of the police report, the city department told him there was no report on file, that no officers had ever visited me that year, much less that month, week or day.)

  4. Donna July 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    My elderly neighbor’s young (great?) grandson (9 or 10) mowed part of her lawn one day while his father stood by. Not sure what happened as dad took over part way through and I didn’t see the boy do it again, although he’s always there when dad mows the lawn. Otherwise, I’ve seen no kids doing yard work in my town. Even if they do, I bet that it is limited to their own yard and not for-hire work.

    I don’t know many kids who have chores at all. The mother of one of my daughter’s friends commented that she was considered thr mean mom in her neighborhood because she made her daughter take her plate to the sink after eating and clean up her own messes at 6. Mine has more chores than that.

  5. This girl loves to talk July 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    my husband did a paper round at age 10 in the early morning with three layers of clothes in the cool melbourne winters. No kids do that job anymore. My daughter is 11 and I’m trying to think of jobs for her to do to make some money.. but she isnt very proactive… I’ve thought about buying bulk candy and getting them to sell it to friends or at a local park that has lots of soccer games… or lemonade stands but I’m not even sure if they are allowed in Australia ( I’ve never seen a lemonade stand in australia) or doing chores in the neighbourhood. I asked an elderly neighbour if my kids could come and do some work (for free to get some experience.. and he said yeah.. but never really says a time, so I think he doesnt want them to come…)

    I would love some ideas on jobs for young kids to do.

  6. Nanci July 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    My son is 8 and very short and cannot wait until he is tall enough to mow the yard. I promised him 10 bucks a week :) He’s hoping he’ll be big enough next year. He loves to have his own money to spend! One day last summer I was a bit embarrassed to find that my daughter (then 9) had picked flowers (weeds) and made little bouquets and gone around the neighborhood selling them. I thought she was just playing outside, I had no idea she was peddling dandelions to our neighbors!

  7. James July 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    There are a few kids in my neighborhood that mow yards and shovel snow for extra cash. I do not hire them out personally because I enjoy the satsifaction of tending to my own yard and sidewalks. When I broke my leg last winter a neighbor did go ahead and shovel my sidewalk for me, it took me a while to figure out who did it though. I was going to do the job myself but it took me a few extra hours to work up enough nerve to shovel on crutches. lol… I stepped out to get my paper off of my front porch and realized it was already mowed.

  8. JaneW July 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    I live next door to the parsonage of a church, and the pastor and his family take care of their small yard and the church’s bigger one. Both of his children helped out, even mowing the lawn as soon as they were tall and strong enough to reliably control a lawn mower. (Age 10, I think.) They’re now 14 and 11, nice polite kids both of them.

    Neighbors’ lawns, now, haven’t seen them do that.

  9. Jen Connelly July 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    My son is 10 and mowed our back yard yesterday. I doubt any of the neighbors would pay to have him do their yards because they would think it’s inappropriate for someone so young.

    When we lived in Chicago the kids used to go door to door in the winter and ask if people wanted their sidewalks shoveled. They usually came back with a few dollars. People thought it was cute since they were so little (like 6, 7 and 8).

    Before we moved I was teaching my son to mow the lawn (he was only 8 then) but then my dad hired a company to take care of it because I was 9 months pregnant, it was 100F outside and my dad has a bad back which leaves him unable to walk most of the time. They do a lot of work in the neighborhood.

    My dad did hire the neighbor kid to do chores around the house, take the trash to the alley, mow the back yard and pull weeds. The kid also runs to the store to get groceries or pick up prescriptions. The kid now calls my dad when he needs cash to see if there are any chores needed to be done. He’s like 15 now and started doing the stuff at 13.

  10. Alison July 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    My next-door neighbor has hired a kid (who’s about 10-11 years old) to help her with some yard work. I think she mostly does it to help the kid more than herself, as she has other people doing work for her.

    And on another note, which I consider weird, my husband doesn’t want to have my son (his step-son) mow our lawn, because he doesn’t want him to “have an accident on his watch.” (My ex-husband has primary custody*, and so we don’t have my kids with us all the time.) I just shake my head at that, because my son has mowed the lawn at his dad’s. I guess it’s just worst-first thinking. Oh, and my son is 14 years old.

    *I just have to add that my kids’ dad has custody because we both felt it best for the kids at the time. Yes, I’m defensive about it, because “society” has deemed that if the mother doesn’t have custody, there’s something wrong with her. Nope. Not in this case.

  11. Vanessa July 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    I’ve never seen kids mowing lawns in my own neighborhood, but I have a friend whose 13 y.o. son does all their yard work (and loves it).

    I think what’s replaced the lawn-mowing, walk-shoveling type of work, at least in Southern California where I live, is the school- or group-sponsored car wash. One of the local high schools is forever holding these to raise money for sports, music, cheerleading etc. – you drive by and see kids (usually girls) holding signs to attract business while other kids (usually boys) actually wash the cars. It’s still kids working to raise money, but with the whole supervised and sponsored angle, it’s definitely not the rogue entrepreneurship of the 70s and 80s.

  12. Jessi July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    I can’t find a kid to tend my yard. My kids are too small to do it themselves yet. I thought finding a teen to do it would be easy but I can’t find one. No teen sitters either. My children have chores and my step-daughter(11) was ready for some new ones added to her list.. I looked online for some ideas and found a chart for “13 and up” and the first chore listed was “clean their room with guidance” I closed out the window.. with guidance?! My 5 year old can clean WITHOUT guidance.. why are we treating children like they’re not capable of learning and following through?
    I’m also the ‘mean mom’ because my children must do chores and don’t get any access to tv/video games when it’s nice enough to play outside. I’m ok with being mean… my kids will be able to survive the real world.

  13. Kat July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    I live in FL and my 12-13 year old neighbor mows my lawn. He does an amazing job, brings his own lawnmower, weed wacker, and broom. We don’t have a timeline set up for when he does it, he just watches my grass and when it starts to look shaggy he knocks on my door and asks to mow it. He came back 3 days in a row the first time because I kept forgetting cash. I see him ride around the neighborhood on his bike pulling the mower behind him.

  14. Bob Davis July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Back in the early 1970’s my daughters delivered the Pasadena Star News (one of the papers that carries your column in this century) on bicycles in our suburban neighborhood. The divided up the route, trading off the “flatland” and “hilly” sections from day to day. If it was “raining cats and dogs” I’d carry them around in my pickup, but other than that it was their job, seven days a week. I don’t know for sure, but they were probably among the last bike-riding paper carriers, and when they finally quit as school became more intensive, they were probably replaced by a young man with an old car (or small truck).

  15. This girl loves to talk July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    @ Jessi then you havent seen this list http://www.tipjunkie.com/chores-by-age/ (which was the first one I read ) and I was horrified at what I thought was my good parenting because my 11 year old cant make own appointments, knit, use weed whacker, saw wood etc. I printed out this list and starting working on some of the items with my kids. Its funny how much you do let slide on teaching kids – using bank cards, making doctors appointments, cooking entire meals, cause I still view them as a kid? well thats not really going to help them is it.

    Whenever I mow my own lawn one of my kids usually comes and has a push or we hold it together and push along together. So some kids do mow lawns (albeit not very often)

  16. Russell Phillips July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    I’m in the UK, and I don’t see it very often, but I have had kids come and offer to clean my car for a small charge a couple of times. My wife and I *never* wash our cars, but we paid the kids to do it when they offered. Not because we wanted clean cards, but because we wanted to encourage the kids.

  17. Erin Mangum July 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    We live on a cul de sac with mostly retired couples. My 7 & 8 yr old daughters love to do odd jobs around the neighborhood to earn a little extra cash. Although often they do the job just because it’s the right thing to do, like help our sweet 83 yr. old next-door neighbor take out her garbage can. The homeowner’s association hires a crew to do the mowing, but one of our neighbors pays the girls a couple bucks every week to pick up after her dog and pull weeds.This has been an important way for them to feel connected to the community that we live in, and also learn some responsibility. I think not allowing our kids these kinds of opportunities is unfortunate not only for them but for the older members of our neighborhoods as well. I’ve watched beautiful mentoring relationships develop between my daughters and some of our neighbors. Too many children these days have never learned how to relate to adults (or the world around them) because they are never allowed to take initiative and show independence.

  18. bequirox July 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    My neighbor hires 2 boys to do her lawn. They are 12 and 14. The first few times, their dad came with them to make sure they know how to do a good job. Then he was hospitalized, and told his wife, “Make sure the boys keep up on Nicole’s lawn.” They mow, weed whack, and bag the debris. They didn’t trim the edges for 2 weeks, so she held them accountable and told them if they didn’t want to trim, then she wasn’t going to pay them the full amount agreed on. I liked it that she went to them to find a solution instead of dragging the parents into it. We frequently have kids in the neighborhood asking to mow lawns or shovel walks or babysit. I live in Utah, and it seems like Utah doesn’t have the same helicopter issues as other states. I think it’s because there are so many families with 4+ kids, the parents just don’t have time to police every little thing.

  19. Stevie Taylor July 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

    My 9 year old mows in the backyard and my 12 year old mows the front yard, including by the road. The 9 year old is capable of mowing by the road (it’s the same job, after all) but I do worry that someone would call the police if they saw him doing it. The couple times I let him do it, I stayed in the garden, weeding, b/c I figured people would really freak out if they thought he was doing it unsupervised. My dad lets both boys use the tractor (ours is a push mower) to mow the lawn at his house b/c he has a nice flat, square yard and he doesn’t see any tipping dangers. His neighbors have never said anything to him. But in general, as farm kids, all my kids use all sorts of “unsafe” tools—weed whackers in the blackberry bushes, wood splitters by the wood shed, trowels and hoes to kill snakes, bolt cutters for barbed wire, utility knives to cut through hoses, etc. Here’s one of my favorite posts where they’re using machetes on weeds:
    http://ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com/?p=5129

    I’ve never asked someone else’s child to mow but since I can’t even find a teen that babysits because they’re too busy into sports or socializing, and their parents give them any money they need, and their parents actually encourage them not to work so they can “concentrate on schoolwork” (we were just expected to do well in school and still earn our own money), I doubt I’d be able to find one that can do something as “dangerous” as mowing!

  20. knutty knitter July 25, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Could never get eldest interested in grass mowing – he can do it but mostly leaves it to youngest who wants the cash. Youngest also mows my mother’s grass but there isn’t much scope for other lawns because most people round here only have tiny lawns that take around 10 minutes to do. Youngest has been doing the grass since he was 12. Mostly because that was when he got strong enough to start the mower by himself.

    There are lots of small but official jobs for teens round here including paper runs and supermarket jobs and they are all sought after to pay for those little extras in the life of a teenager. The limits on these types of employment are the number of hours they can work and, for some jobs there are age limits too.

    viv in nz

  21. Lauren July 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    I live in a small farm town in Iowa and have seen flyers for kids — around age 10/12 — who will mow the lawn. And if there wasn’t a drought, I’d hire one!

  22. Jennifer Jo July 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    My friend’s 12-year-old mows lawns for money.

    My kids, age 11 and 12, mow our lawn with the zero-turn mower.

    And…
    My son is allowed to drive the truck around the property when needed. My daughter just had her first “driving lesson” (ie, we tell her to move the van and then watch to see how she does—my husband yells instructions to her out the kitchen window and I take pictures).

    My son sometimes joins my husband on the job site. He uses drills, screw guns, circular saws… Sometimes he gets paid.

    The 12-year-old’s latest big privilege:riding bike the 11 miles solo from town to home on a four-lane road.

  23. katrina July 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    For those kids that are willing to work, people in our neighborhood are very generous. There are quite a few older folks that are pleased to see kids take initiative for a change. One man told my son no one had offered to help shovel snow in 15 years. He makes a killing during snowstorms

    When my daughter was 9, she and a friend put fliers in mailboxes offereing weeding services. They got several calls. Unfortunately, the other girls parents felt the need to go with them and hover, since we had never met these people. My daughter soon started doing the jobs on her own and even accepted an invitation to come inside for coke & a snack.

    My daughter ended up with a babysitting job for one of the families. At the age of 10, she was trusted to stay outside to play with the kids while mom worked in the house. She liked that a lot better than weeding. This mother told me she likes to hire 11 year olds because they are more reliable and willing to play with the kids.

  24. Scott Lazarowitz July 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    Unfortunately, America has become a country of nudniks and people with no common sense.

    If your neighbor calls the police just because your kids are playing in the yard “unsupervised,” then that neighbor needs to be arrested and charged with endangerment. Anyone who sics the police on others for no good reason is in fact endangering their lives. These days, the police are overreacting to the slightest of situations, with S.W.A.T. teams, etc. The Nazi neighbor is literally endangering your family’s lives, especially the childrens’.

    It is time that people with common sense and decency fight back against these Nazi neighbors.

  25. Melissa July 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Our neighbor’s son mows lawns. And each winter I have the tiniest children coming up to my door and asking to shovel. They come by at other times too asking for jobs and they have a notebook and write it all down as if they’re being official. They’ve shoveled a couple of times once when there was probably more than a foot of snow out there (Chicago burbs) and they did a good job so they got paid well. A couple of other times a teen boy from across the street who has some sort of special need came over and just did it. He didn’t even knock on the door or ask for money. I just went outside and found it done. (I’m in my 30s so I’m fully capable but my husband is away on business a lot.) The first time I had to find out who he even was. I guess it is just something he enjoys doing.

  26. Elisa July 25, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    My teenager mows our lawn. I’ve seen one other teen in my neighborhood mowing a lawn. Most of my neighbors use lawnmowing/landscaping services to get their yards to a state of manicured (and chemically-enhanced) perfection that would be be impossible for a teen or adult working alone to achieve.

    My kid is going to college soon and I’d be happy to pay another kid to mow my lawn — but of course I have the fear of, “what if s/he gets hurt and the parents sue me.”

  27. David Provost July 25, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    My 11 year old makes pretty good money petsitting our neighbors’ dogs and cats. She is even “franchising” her business to a friend of hers who wants to petsit in her own neighborhood!

  28. Kenzal Hunter July 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    Well timed question, I’ve been keeping an eye out for a neighbourhood kid I can pay to mow my grass, but I rarely even see kids outside that I can even ask.

  29. Rayne of Terror July 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    I live in a rural central Illinois subdivision. My 14 year old neighbor mows 6 lawns in our subdivision. Each yard is between .5 and 1 acre. He bought his own riding lawn mower at age 12 or 13. With the drought there hasn’t been much mowing, but in the spring I saw him out several evenings a week mowing.

  30. Claire53 July 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    I’d be interested in knowing if the above post from “enyawface” is a male or female. If female, the story is surprising. If male, it fits the climate of the culture.

  31. Lollipoplover July 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    I know of one kid in our neighborhood (12) who mows lawns, waters plants, and picks weeds for money. Most of the dads around here enjoy their lawn mowing machines. The “La La” machines they get to ride in peace with a beer in the cup holder. I don’t think he gets much work, but any is fine by him.

    Most of the kids around here have come up with “ideas” to make money. Last year the girls went door to door to the dog owners on our street to peddle their dog washing/dog playing service. The wrote out a schedule on a sign:
    1. We will walk your dog around the cultdesac. 2. Next we give your dog a bath 3. We will give your dog a yummy treat! 4. We play ball in the yard.
    They charged $5. They got 3 customers. The first was mine. They did the steps, it was a good deal. The second was an old, smelly golden retrieiver who liked the walk but not being chased around a yard by two squealing girls with hoses. By the time they did the 3rd dog, it was really hot out and they were tired from the 30 minute chase from the golden. They got an invite to swim in the dog owner’s pool so the skipped the rinsing (they were rushing) to get to the pool. The sudsy dog later joined them in the pool with a fizzle and lots of bubbles.

  32. CWH July 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    We live in a somewhat spread-out area where people have large lawns, 1-2 acres, so most people have ride-on mowers. We have a smaller push mower because we keep our lawn smaller. So our 12yo does help out with our own mowing, but most people’s lawns are just too big for him to tackle. I do know of another 12yo in the neighborhood who mows lawns for $ on his parents’ ride-on mower, though.

  33. MorahLaura July 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Was anyone able to get the list of chores for ages 8-16 on tipjunkie? It seems to have fallen off, but I’m at work and they filter pretty hard so it could be me.

  34. Sarah O July 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    I wasn’t allowed to use the push mower because I was really, really, bad at mowing straight – but I did get to use the riding mower. I think I was 15 or so? I had older brothers who could do it so I really was only asked once they graduated or were busy with jobs.

  35. Aubrey July 25, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    We hire an 11yo (when there’s enough rain that the grass actually grows). His dad brings him over w/ mower on a trailer, but he has to do the work. He does a GREAT job – better than the quick runs I used to do. Before our mower broke, I was teaching our 9yo, but didn’t get far, and for now it’s cheaper to hire the other kid than to get a new mower.

  36. K July 25, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    My husband grew up on a farm, and was driving a lawn tractor at six, a BIG tractor at 9, and on the road to their other fields by 10. He started driving grain trucks by 12. Go to thepioneerwoman.com to see other kids that still work on a farm.

    I mowed the lawn and had a gazillion little tasks as a kid.

    We constantly wrestle with home responsibilities and our kids. Frankly, it is easier to just do it than provide the oversight and haranging necessary to get them to do it. So, we keep their tasks simpler than we should (probably), but still require them to pitch in. I think that this is harder when both parents work out of the home.

  37. Hels July 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    My parents live in western suburbs of Omaha, and they have kids mowing lawns and shoveling snow and using snowblowers… generally only in their own yards, but I remember my Dad telling me there were some kids offering to mow my parents’ lawn. My Dad said no, because he needs his exercise.

  38. Heather in Oregon July 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    My husband grew up on a farm and so has a pretty “elevated” sense of what kids can do. Our kids are 4 and 6 and help out with most forms of yard work and while mowing is a ways off, I do expect that they will be doing it once they’re older. In our neighborhood we see a few kids here and there advertising to do mowing or other yard work but not many. I do have an 11yr old that I have asked to come and watch the kids while I get chores/canning/sewing done. She can play with the kids here or at the park which is just up the street and I will probably let her take the kids to the library if she wants which is 5-6 blocks away.

    I did extra chores such as weeding and washing windows, for money (our day to day chores were considered something everybody did because you were a family) and was often paid to do those same kinds of extras for neighbors. I also pet-sat, babysat, walked people’s dogs, washed cars, helped elderly or disabled neighbors perform daily chores, and occasionally even cooked, for money. I also had a regular weekend/summer job at 14 and worked that same job until I was 18.

    Around here, it’s very hard for teens to find jobs. We’re in an area that has been depressed for a while and even the most menial of jobs tend to go to adults. Instead of kids going door to door offering to do yard work, we tend to have adults, primarily young men in their 20’s, who roam the neighborhoods with mowers asking to mow people’s lawns.

    I agree with k. that sometimes it’s hard to make yourself do the supervision necessary for kids to learn or do these jobs. My kids are young enough still that pretty much every chore they do requires some amount of supervision because if I don’t, they get distracted and it never gets done. We do still try and take that time because we know it will pay off in the long run unless getting something done is time sensitive and we figure that as the kids get older, even the time sensitive jobs will be appropriate for them to do.

  39. Bill July 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Interesting that among the many overreaching thing the Federal government is up to, that they regulate this also. From Child Labor Bulletin 101:

    “14- and 15-Year-Olds MAY NOT Be Employed in:…….
    8. Occupations involved with the operating, tending, setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling or repairing or of ANY POWER-DRIVEN MACHINERY, including, but not limited to, lawnmowers, golf carts, all-terrain vehicles, trimmers, cutters, weed-eaters, edgers, food slicers, food grinders, food choppers, food processors, food cutters, and food mixers. Fourteen- and 15-year-olds may operate most office machinery and those machines that are expressly permitted and discussed below on page 6.”

    So there goes lawn mowers, weed eaters. etc. And there’s no exception till you’re 16 for working on your parent’s property.

    The turning of adolescents into infants continues…..

  40. Brooks July 25, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    Last summer I had a lot of work travel to do, so I posted a request on Facebook for a teenager to mow my lawn for two months. Out of 400 or so friends, I got one response from a friend who live 350 miles away saying that her son would if they lived closer. My son is 11 and next summer, he and a friend are going to rack up the dough since they are the only ones in our neighborhood who will be looking for work. I can’t wait. And I’ll dare anyone to try and stop them.

  41. padrooga July 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    At 16 you are allowed to mow a lawn for the first time….You realize that at 17 they can join the military and utilize automatic weapons, drive tanks, operate artillery, etc…. We are making the line between infants and adults awfully thin and narrow.

  42. Ann July 25, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    Well, I sure hope kids keep mowing lawns in our neighborhood! We’ve been there for 9 years now, and I’m not sure we’ve mowed the lawn ourselves more than a couple times! In fact, my husband recently said he wants to just get rid of the lawnmower because all it does is take up space. Our next-door neighbor started cutting our grass when he was probably 12. He did it for about 4 years until he got a car and a “real job”. Then, his younger brother took over for about 3 years until he also got a “real job”. About that time, two younger kids (about 12) advertised in our neighborhood newsletter that they were cutting grass, so we hired the two of them! They’ve been cutting for a couple years. They live probably a half mile away from us, but they just push the mowers all over the neighborhood from yard to yard! I think by the time they retire, my oldest will be old enough to start cutting it. I guess we’ll need to keep the lawn mower until then!

  43. Diane S. July 25, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    Wow..@Bill. The youth group at church (ages 12 to 18) I regularly hire to do things like weeding, mowing, all kinds of stuff, including cleaning the church really good (and I go after them to make sure they’ve done a good job – if not, they do it again till satisfactory). Amazing that they’ve put it at 16. At 12, I was mowing our yard, and using all the fun power tools dad had out in the garage, including the Skil Saw, and the table saw. Kids are capable of doing a lot more than many see them ‘capable of’ nowadays.

  44. Michael Chermside July 25, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    Yes. Our neighbor is paid (much better than I was) to mow our lawn. And it’s partly because he came to us and ASKED if we’d like the service. We wanted to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit.

  45. Toby July 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    I live in Alaska. I’ve never had a kid ask to mow my lawn but I have had a couple stop by and ask to shovel snow. More often than not, it’s a grown man who offers to do it but I have had a couple of kids stop by as well in the ~5 years I’ve owned my home.

  46. SKL July 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    I don’t even own a lawn mower. We pay someone who has a business. It gets done really fast, thoroughly, and the price is reasonable ($25/mo?).

    I don’t have a lot of middle-school / teen kids in my neighborhood, so I really don’t know who mows the lawns of folks in those families. But I think we’re all afraid to hire a minor because of fear of lawsuits.

    I mowed my elderly next-door neighbor’s lawn as a “kindness” when I was under 10. I am sorry to say that he didn’t appreciate it. My dad told me that I was welcome to cut our own grass all I want, but not anyone else’s. Could have been a quality issue, as I hadn’t been professionally trained. I had two older brothers, so they got to do the outdoor work while I did boring stuff like laundry.

    But yes, when we were kids in the city, we were always looking to make a buck. From offering to wash an old lady’s dishes to folding boxes for the pizza place. I’m sure it was tiresome for the adults at times, but they tolerated it for the most part. Then again, in those days you could tell a child “no thank you” without adding any drama to your day.

  47. SKL July 25, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    I should add that the guy who does our lawn brings his teen son sometimes. However, I must say he seems to be in a much better mood when the kid is not with him. Teen hormones are brutal!

  48. Kristi Baumbach July 25, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    My two teen girls (13 and 14) do occasionally mow neighbors lawns and they also babysit. They use the money they earn to buy stuff I won’t….like an itouch and expensive shoes! I just had a super cute and polite boy about 10 knock on my door the other day and ask to mow my front yard. He had an old fashioned push mower. I said yes even though I could have had my own kids do it! He worked very hard and was very proud of his $10. I had never met the kid before as he lived one street over. His mom did drive over and bring him a drink half way through the job. He has since become friends with my 10 year daughter and I’ve found him to be very polite and a really nice kid. You just have to have respect for a child like that! Willing to knock on doors and ask for work! We live in Texas.

  49. CrazyCatLady July 25, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    I have a friend who is trying to pay off medical bills. Her husband started a lawn mowing business that he does on his days off. Their 13 year old son volunteered to help out with this – not so he can make money for himself, but because he sees the need to help his family. Which I feel is great.

    I also don’t get it when kids do stuff and people ask if they are donating the money to charity and get huffy when they are not. There is nothing wrong with learning how to spend your own money, or to save for college, a car or trade school. Or, even just toys that you want. When you work for it yourself you realize how much work it is and are better at spending wisely.

  50. Catherine Lavallee July 25, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    My husband won’t even “let” me mow the lawn. I can’t imagine he will ever let the children do it even when they’re older. He thinks that it’s too dangerous for me to attempt it.

  51. sbh July 25, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    I’m in Texas and my son (12) helps mow the lawn. He isn’t up to edging yet. We have kids advertise in our neighborhood newsletter and offer lawn mowing service so I’m assuming they do, but I don’t know how many actually get hired simply because most people have lawn services now. But I live in a city that not only encourages you to drop your kid off at the local park in the summer but staffs them full of young teen volunteers to organize activities for these kids – kids…watching kids, imagine that…. It’s a great way to combat latchkey kids for parents who may not have access to affordable daycare in the summer when schools are out. Your blog makes me really appreciate my city!

  52. Delora (@delora) July 25, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    My son is 11 (almost 12) and started mowing the lawn this year. In fact, that is his chore for today. We have an au pair that lives at the house and watches him and his 2yo brother during the day, and she knows that the 11yo has chores he needs to complete every day. Mowing the lawn is by far the biggest chore, so I’ll usually buy him a book as payment for doing it in addition to his weekly allowance ($5) for doing his regular chores.

    We do have several teens in the area that have mowing “businesses,” but I know one neighbor who had hired a teen wasn’t happy with the job he did and found him inconsistent on when he would come, so finally went with a professional service instead.

  53. Keith B. July 25, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    Our son (14) mows our yard, and has for several years. He’s wanted to mow for other people to earn money, but everyone else in our neighborhood uses lawn service companies (even the people with kids around his age). Same with snow removal.

    When I was his age, I mowed lawns for multiple people in my neighborhood (the HOA actually published a list of kids willing to do odd jobs). I also delivered papers for several years. Now, at least in this area, none of those opportunities are there for kids any more.

  54. cheryl July 26, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    Both of our teens work for us, neighbors, and friends.
    In So Cal we had an elderly neighbor who did not want to hire the mow / gardening out to the Lawn Crew that did the neighborhood. Both kids would mow her place starting when they (twins) were… 12? Also would turn on her garden sprinklers (manual control), bring in mail, and check the place when she was under the weather or out of town. They also helped with all yard chores at our house. Most other neighbors used the neighborhood lawn crew. There was also a guy with car washing equip on a trailer that would come through and wash cars in the ‘hood for $25 a car. Not many kids in that neighborhood though. So Cal is a unique environment. 😉
    We moved to West, by God, Virginia.
    – Daughter has babysat for several families (developed a good reputation), and provided cooked meals for shut ins (of her own accord), and baked for school bake sales. Moved away from that and into a full time job at 16.
    – Son mows yards, bought his own mower at 15. He watch’s peoples homes when they are gone. Has assisted with home maintenance jobs for folks – even hung drywall with one guy. Has learned how to operate; lawn mowers, yard tractors, backhoe, and skidstear while working for others at their homes. He brought home his first REAL paycheck at 15.
    Last year was their Senior Year – they both had jobs outside of school and were expected (and did) to maintain their grades.
    They are now a month away from 18 and getting out into the real world. Soon I will be able to report how well we did / or did not do. 😉

  55. North of 49 July 26, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    Nope. They don’t. They just hold their hands out to mom and dad and expect money in $20 increments to just be handed out like candy.

    I did something really scary for me yesterday. I let my kids walk 1.2km to the youth centre. My older one is almost 10, the younger one I let do this walk is almost 8. I kept the 5 and a half year old at home though. I told them to call me when they got there, and to be careful, and more importantly, to have fun. I also made sure that they knew if they needed us, to call home for any reason.

    Then I let them go with a hug and watched as one child wheelied his way down the sidewalk, followed by the other one shoving him along.

    Less than the length of time it takes according to Google maps to get there by foot, the phone rang.

    Of course, when the other half got home from his stuff, he freaked out and had to go and get them, even though it was over a half hour before they had to call home again before coming home. I was proud of my kids, but prouder of me for letting them do that.

    The problem is that the local CPS might thing of this as child abandonment or endangerment or something else just as stupid. They were kids having fun, and they walk further home from school. CPS workers here have the brains of inexperience and they seem to want to infantilize children until they are of legal age and then just expect them to be able to handle the real world on their own. That’s not going to happen unless kids get to do stuff like this – take time when they are young learning to be on their own. I was a latchkey kid as a child. Today? That’s considered neglect.

    The eldest found out yesterday that he can go to it daily, but the younger one can only go to it on Tuesdays. I expect many more visits. Same rules apply – call me when you get there, come home at 7, be careful and have fun.

  56. Cheryl Kauffman July 26, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    I live in Seattle. My 11 & 12 yr old sons do yard work, pet sitting, bake sales, garden-watering, and parent-helping work at various families’ homes in our extended neighborhood. They get to their jobs & other activities independently by bike. None of their peers do any of these things and I’m pretty sure all my parenting peers think I’m crazy for giving them such independence, especially the biking around town part. Part of the money they earn goes towards supporting a child in an orphanage in Mexico. They write letters to him and he writes to us. My husband and I are actively working to work ourselves out of a job and the boys know this. They are proud (if not annoyed) to be able to do their own laundry and cook a meal. They don’t want to be one of those guys we’ve told them about who shows up at college not having a clue how to take care of himself.

  57. Michelle July 26, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    We just had a huge windstorm and our neighbourhood was full of downed trees and branches. My 8 year old went door to door with a rake and helped people rake their lawns. He did it because he liked helping but loved the unsolicited $5 that he was given. He can’t wait to be able to mow lawns for people and shovel snow.

  58. Mindy July 26, 2012 at 12:46 am #

    We hired one of our neighborhood kids (11 years old) to mow our lawn this last year after I had our first baby. My husband has an 12 year old son who was unwilling to do it, even of we incentivized it, so we hired his friend. He did a great job and was putting the money towards buying a new bike. Most of the kids in our (now former) neighborhood were out every day playing, unsupervised, until dinner time. Our rule was, we had to have a note saying which yard my stepson might be at most of the time, so we knew which direction to yell when it was dinner time. :)
    My stepson got video game privileges taken away last summer, and spent the summer outside playing. He lost weight, started behaving better, was more fun to be around, and made a lot of friends. We never reinstituted video games, and while every once in a while he misses them, he never has a lack of entertainment and I’ve only heard him complain of boredom when it rains.

  59. Maggie July 26, 2012 at 1:02 am #

    My oldest is 9 and our elderly neighbors have paid her to pull weeds for them for the past two years. She loves having a chance to earn some money.

  60. backroadsem July 26, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    I remember the last time a kid showed up on a snowy day asking for 5 bucks in return for shoveling the walk. It was like 7 years ago.

  61. Fuchsia July 26, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    My teenagers mow our lawn. They are 15 (girl) and 18 (boy). Usually it is my step son who does it, but my stepdaughter joins him at times. We didn’t allow my stepdaughter to start mowing until she was strong enough to control the mower (it is a heavy gas beast). Once we see that our kids have the strength and where with all to do a job well and safely use the tools needed then they get assigned the job. It is good practice for being an adult.

  62. Jen Sekunda Thompson July 26, 2012 at 1:14 am #

    Shoveling, yes… mowing, no. I worked on a pediatric floor for many years and lawn mowing accidents happen more than you think. I’m sorry but most kids lack the judgement needed to run a dangerous piece of equipment, and I sure as heck wouldn’t want my children to go through multiple surgeries and months of physical pain because I allowed them to use a lawnmower.

    I was not allowed to use a lawnmower or snowblower until I was in High School and I’m grateful to my parents for protecting me.

  63. Jen Sekunda Thompson July 26, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    @mindy – I agree with you on the video games, completely. Apparently I’m in the minority because my children are just now getting DSs at 10 and 8. We had a playstation from college that we use occasionally but found that it really made my son hyper and just plain annoying so we took it away. Not as a punishment, just got him involved in other things and got rid of it when they weren’t interested in it anymore. I think because we chose to withhold video games for so long, it’s changed how they view them – they are not the kids that have electronics glued to their hands 24/7. They are used to going outside, getting dirty and the DSs usually just get in the way 😉

  64. Suzanne July 26, 2012 at 1:45 am #

    My older son turned 9 this summer and doesn’t mow the lawn, yet. I think 10-12 is a good age to be big enough to control the mower and not run over stuff you shouldn’t. I have big plans to encourage him to go around the neighborhood offering to mow lawns in the next couple years. That said I have never had any kids come to my door offering this service. With the drought we haven’t had to mow our grass since like May – maybe if it ever grows he can take a crack at mowing it. If our yard goes well he can try hitting up the neighbors.

  65. backroadsem July 26, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    Video games are interesting… I remember when my parents bought my little brothers a Wii a few years’ back. I think I played it more often than they did–and I just came as a visitor! My mom liked the Wii Fit, so she used it plus the Wii music for her music students. I think something broke on it over a year ago, and no one has bothered to fix it. My brothers are too busy making movies with their friends and preparing for college.

  66. Vanessa July 26, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    “I also don’t get it when kids do stuff and people ask if they are donating the money to charity and get huffy when they are not. ”

    That just blows me away. I don’t work so I can give all the money I earn to charity (although I do give some). I work so I can buy things I need and want. Why should kids be expected to do any different?

  67. Sue Luttner July 26, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    We have no grass, but our sons, now 24 and 21, were conscripted regularly in their youths for weeding, raking, digging, and when they got good enough at it, pruning.

    They used to complain that none of their friends ever had to work in the yard, only them. One night I asked a teenager who had come to dinner how much yard work she did at her house, and her eyes widened. “My mother thinks my school work is much too important for me to spend time gardening,” she said.

    The boys have both forgiven me now, even waxing nostalgic about their years of playing in the mud and the trees and the mulch piles. The older one has done a lot of amendment-hauling and bed-prepping for cash—-but I don’t think he’s yet had to use a lawnmower.

  68. squishymama July 26, 2012 at 2:41 am #

    We have always lived in apartments where the management company does the mowing and shoveling. However, they have so many properties to tend to, that the shoveling is not always done in a timely manner. But lucky me, my girls love to shovel snow. They are 4 ½ and almost 7 and I plan on getting them kid-sized shovels before this year’s first snow. Last winter we shoveled paths to everyone’s door and to the laundry room, but I’m hoping this year we will be able to do more on the steps with the smaller shovels. And they wouldn’t even think that someone would pay them for this; they just love shoveling and helping their neighbors.

  69. enyawface July 26, 2012 at 2:57 am #

    @Claire, male, and yes you are correct, the typical response. I used to operate a sedan service and often would find a parking lot to park in between calls, I love baseball and once stopped at a sports complex near my next call, to park and watch the game that was going on, You should of seen the look that a man in a business suit and driving a marked (the business name and personalized plates on the car) sedan got while sitting and watching a game. I had one parent even go s far as to when she parked next to me, walking around her bohemoth SUV, putting her backside against my door to block it whikle her son got out of the car, and no she was in no way parked close enough that her son would have banged my car with the door when he opened it, she made it very obvious she did not approve of a man parked in the lot and was intentionally blocking my door s apparently I couldn’t thrust it open drag a 9yo into the marked car kicking and screaming, and then make it across the parking lot to the exit and drive off. I mean, you know, that happens what 50 times a day in every city across America? Or so the news would have you believe. I used to sponsor a local team every year before I moved to Washington, would often take several of the boys out for pizza or Dairy Queen after a game, and often before a game knowing that several of them had nothing to eat all day. It is this attitude that stopped me from doing that. The looks of disapproval you get, the kid running off screaming down a grocery store Isle just because you said hi to him when he stopped literally under your nose to grab something. The climate in america is ridiculous, I am almost ashamed to live here, definitely afraid, for fear of any worst first thinking that may land me at the police station being questioned, just because I am a man, and saddened by what this is saying to our boys in America, sorry son you made the mistake of being born a male, according to the news, you will grow up to rape someone, molest children and are guilty even if you can prove your innocence.

  70. Neil M July 26, 2012 at 3:38 am #

    I live in a city and have no lawn, but if I did I wouldn’t hire a kid to mow it. Not because he/she couldn’t handle it – kids are resilient and smart – but because I’d fear how it might appear to others. That’s sad, but I’d rather disappoint a local teen than find myself answering a police officer’s suspicious questions.

  71. Erin July 26, 2012 at 4:08 am #

    My boys (13 & 11) mow the neighbors’ lawn. The older gets to ride the riding mower (the younger is just barely heavy enough to make the mower think there’s a person on it!). The younger mows with the push mower. This past month, one of them was always gone, so the other had to do both. Took them a couple of hours, but they were extremely proud of themselves. They earn a VERY decent wage, pay their father for the gas they use, and have learned how to take constructive criticism from their customer and from each other.

    Two other teens on our street do their own yards….everyone else, the kids are too young.

  72. Lisa July 26, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    My 19 year old son has been mowing the lawn since he was 10. He can’t do it for anyone else around here because EVERYONE has a lawn service (Middle-class section of Long island). My 15 year old empties the dishwasher and both boys help with outdoor stuff whenever my husband needs, such as gutter cleaning, window washing, any repairs, etc. My 9 year old doesn’t have any set chores, but he’s the kind of kid that’s always willing to pitch in, so it’s not an issue.

  73. Tracie S July 26, 2012 at 4:26 am #

    I live in a small town in Georgia. Up until this year, I would have said that I rarely saw kids mowing their own lawns, much less other people’s. This year though, we got a flyer on our mailbox for grass cutting and since my husband is very busy with his job, we decided to call and get our grass cut. Turns out it was a middle school boy who wanted to earn some money this summer. He decided on his own that he wanted to cut grass and set everything up by himself. One of his parents drives him over and helps him unload the lawnmower and he gets to work. He does a decent job and his rates are great. Now, he knows to come every other week to cut our grass. He has since cut most of our neighbors’ grass at least once.

  74. Heath July 26, 2012 at 5:09 am #

    I’ve never understood this misconception that cutting grass can be “dangerous”. Unless you have a 30 year-old mower, all mowers have safety mechanisms that make the blade shut off the instance you let go/get off. There’s no way you could reach down to touch a moving blade, or roll over your foot, or whatever it is that people are afraid of. The only hazard might be tipping over a riding mower on a slope. But you would have to be pretty clueless to do that. Or sometimes things might fly out from under the mower. But if you’re wearing the right clothes, you won’t suffer any harm, more than a scratch. When I hear people say it’s too dangerous for kids, I always ask, “What part of it is dangerous?”

  75. Heath July 26, 2012 at 5:15 am #

    Also, @enyawface, Amen, brother!

  76. Stephanie July 26, 2012 at 6:09 am #

    My children (10 & 11, sometimes even the 5 YO) always mow our lawn & trim weeds also. We have never had any issue with it from neighbors, but they do get lots of funny looks & some people even point when they walk by. I think they are shocked! Getting someone else to let them mow their lawn? Never. They hire professionals to do that. It would be too scary to let young children have that much responsibility!

  77. backroadsem July 26, 2012 at 6:16 am #

    I’m a little surprised at some of the comments here. Without being judgmental, I think it’s very sad that some of us fear hiring some enterprising youngster. I’m rather tempted to look up the exact laws in my area and use that in the face of whatever cop or busybody shows to harass me about it–though I don’t see that happening, as I also live in Utah and it seems fairly free-range.

    If enough of us just hired them anyway, it might get to be commonplace again.

  78. Lollipoplover July 26, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    @backroadsem- I’ve found the opposite in my neighborhood. My kids don’t mow, but do shovel snow and have a used golf ball business. When they went door to door two winters ago (we had TONS of snow), some folks were so relieved to have a 10 yo kid shovel for a very reasonable price. With their golf ball business (and they sell drinks and food), they get regulars like our mailman and the golf course grounds crew. When folks ask what they are going to do with the money, my son answers honestly, “I am saving up for a car someday.”

  79. mollie July 26, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    Our soon-to-be 10-year-old son has been getting a weed-whacker tutorial, but it’s a bit heavy for him, so he’s learning the push mower. He’s also learning laundry as well. Soon he’ll be cooking to serve dinner to the family. The rest of the kids are learning all of this too (6, 8, 11). I tell them that it’s training so that they can run their own homes someday.

    Hopefully, they’ll get enterprising and realize that some of these skills are marketable. They’re part of our “family economy” at home, and can earn a certain amount of their “own” money by participating in helping to run the house (and if they choose not to participate, well, they don’t get any money!), but there’s a world waiting out there of elderly neighbours who would definitely appreciate some help, I bet!

    My high school boyfriend, in 1983 or so, had his own business doing lawns during the summers. He made enough money to keep me us in movies and ice cream sundaes, and pay for the insurance and gas for the car he was driving. Such a responsible lad he was! Can’t imagine what he would have been like if his parents had told him he couldn’t go out and make his way a little bit back then.

    I remember my mom being very reticent about letting me mow the lawn with the gas mower (I was about 14 or 15 I think). My parents were divorced, but they happened to discuss it in front of me one day. My mom wrung her hands and said, “Well, I guess you could do it, but you’d absolutely have to be wearing very sensible shoes.” My dad shook his head. “Just don’t mow over your foot,” was his advice. “Wouldn’t really matter what shoes you had on if you do.”

  80. Cassie July 26, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    I had some kids knock on my door once and ask to mow my lawn. I gave them $20 and let me go for it. I think I bought an iceblock out when they were done.

    We have chooks and fruit trees and a vege patch. We are getting so many eggs I periodically give a dozen to my close neighbors. I can’t wait until my girls are old enough to give them a trailer and let them sell excess produce (eggs, fruit, etc). I would love for them to start a lawn mowing business as soon as they are capable.

  81. Donna July 26, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    @backroadsem – It is sad, but the reason to hire someone to mow your lawn is to save time and aggravation for yourself. If hiring a kid is going to potentially bring more aggravation your way – like it did enyawface – why do it? Why not just hire an adult?

    I’d hire a kid, but I’m a woman. I may do so as well if I were a married man – as long as my wife was home whenever the kid came over. Or if I were elderly or disabled. No way I’d do it if I were a relatively young, single, able-bodied man or, god forbid, a gay man/couple unless I meet the parents first and get their okay (and believe that they are unlikely to become rapid when others start filling their heads with nonsense about all men being pedophiles). I don’t blame anyone who isn’t willing to risk being interrogated as a potential pedophile. Even if the allegations are deemed completely unfounded by the police, the taint will always be present in the neighborhood.

  82. Janis July 26, 2012 at 7:39 am #

    My 12 yr old daughter and 9 yr old son mow the lawn. The 9 yr old also weedwacks but his older sister cannot figure out the weedwacker. note neither can I its a horrible mean contraption. My 7yr old hand weeds the yard, sweeps the street after the mowing, and hand cuts with scissors and missed stragglers. Our neighbors have started asking them to come by and rake,mow,weed ect and my kids all jump at the chance.

  83. Denise July 26, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    I’m in Calgary Canada, and though I’ve never had kids ask to mow the lawn, in the winter there are plenty of kids who go door to door wanting to shovel. If I have cash, I always say yes, it’s something I’d like my kids to do when they are older.

  84. Sara July 26, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    I’m in KC, and we have a neighbor kid (about 14) across the street that wants to mow our lawn, unfortunately due to the drought the grass isn’t growing. I’m tempted to see if he’s interested in painting the rail on my front porch for me.

  85. CrazyCatLady July 26, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Cassie, check the laws about selling the eggs and produce from a wagon. Where I live (WA) if I take my eggs (or garden produce) off of my property, that is considered to be “processed” and I need a license. If people come to my property, it is not processed. Which is a shame as I regularly go to town and would like to deliver to some people who don’t have transportation. (I sell duck eggs, and the daughter has an allergy to chicken eggs but can eat duck eggs.)

    My son wants to sell lemonade. Since we don’t have lemon trees in our neck of the desert, and do live on a dirt road that is not well traveled, I convinced him that we needed to sell things that we actually have. I trimmed some of our volunteer sunflowers and they put out the Little Tykes easel we found for free along side the road and tried to sell the flowers. Unfortunately, they were too slow getting them out of the sun and into water, so they wilted. I think they will do better with the tomatoes when they get ripe.

  86. Mary Alderman July 26, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    In my rural town (pop. 600+) I have in past summers seen a couple of junior high students offering to mow lawns. The only problem that the people who hired them had was the prices, about $15 to $20 to mow a fairly small yard, and the quality of work was so-so. But we were willing to give them a shot. Lately there haven’t been any trying to do that now, not sure if it’s because they are over-scheduled, or because the town’s population is getting older, we have a lot of retirees here, so if some kids would like to make extra money they would have a gold mine here, and most of us wouldn’t think less of the parents for letting them do so.

    Also a lot of high school students help out their families and neighbors during harvest by driving trucks and combines. (Some kids learn how to drive by helping drive tractors and trucks in the field, with supervision of course.)

  87. Kandi6000 July 26, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Well, I live in the big city and we have no private yard. But my 20 month old puts away up his toys and books before we leave the house in the morning and also before bed. We are already talking about how he’ll help with the dishes and other chores when he is bigger. At daycare they clear their plates, putting their scraps in the compost and dirty dishes in the sink, and then wipe the tables.

  88. Ann July 26, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    You betcha!!! There are kids here in my town that work. Some walk dogs. Some mow yards and some work for local farmers. Some baby sit. Just yesterday my 13yr old daughter changed the oil on a tractor. Earlier this summer my 11yr old son was helping roof a house. These kids are hard working.

  89. Kathy July 26, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    We live in Calgary, Alberta, and although we’ve had Child Protective Services at our door many times because people (apparently) don’t approve of the way we are raising our children, we haven’t mended our ways. My son who is 15 has been mowing the lawn for one of our neighbors for at least four years now. Now he mows the lawns on either side of her house because she talked her neighbors into it. He gets $30/week for all three lawns. (The lawns are very small.) He has also been hired by different neighbors to shovel walks in the winter and he house-sat for two months for some neighbors who went to Mexico. He has been well-paid for all of these things. My 12-year old has been dog-walking for several months. He is paid $40/week for walking an old Jack Russell terrier around the block every day. My 9-year-old was hired this summer by my next-door neighbor to keep his baskets of flowers alive. All he does is water them and he gets paid $20/month. We are taking a vacation in August and going to visit two of my older children who are currently in Mexico. I told my sons who are 12 and 15 that I wanted all of us to go, but I couldn’t afford it. They immediately volunteered to pay for their tickets, and they are. Now the whole family is going and everyone is very happy.

  90. Susan July 26, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    In LaGrange, IL my 13yo son mows the elderly neighbor’s lawn and he’s been doing that for three years now. He’s away at camp this week and if there wasn’t a drought his 10yo sister would take on the responsibility. I’m proud of my kids and they love earning money and saving for things they want (even if that includes ridiculous Beats headphones).

  91. Jenna July 26, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    I haven’t read all the answers, so forgive me if this is repetitive. I remember reading an article in college, which was quite a while back now (about 15 years ago) that talked about how for anyone under 16 it should be illegal to operate a lawn mower. I don’t remember if it was made into law, but that was what the whole article was about, how anyone under 16 didnt’ have the skills to operate a lawn mower. I remember that article because I was 8 when my parents first allowed me to mow the lawn. Eight was a big age for us because we were finally allowed to mow the lawn and we were all excited about it. My brother did yardwork for neighbors starting at the age of 9, mowing lawns included. Anyway, I don’t know if there are now laws in place, maybe I should check. Especially since I have let my 9-year-old mow our tiny back lawn a couple of times.

  92. Terry Carr White July 26, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    YES!! My 13 year old mows our lawn and our neighbor’s lawn. He doesn’t get paid for our lawn (ice hockey and lax are expensive, we pay for him to play, so we expect him to mow the lawn), but he does get $10 for our neighbor’s lawn. He is also expected to take down the trash and recycling cans for our elderly neighbors because that is what you do for each other!

  93. mmeller July 26, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    I haven’t seen younger kids mowing lawns, but we pay our high school aged neighbor to mow ours. He also has mowed for another neighbor.

    We asked one younger (12 or 13 years old) neighbor if he wanted to earn money mowing. He didn’t have time due to his extra curricular activities and sports. Maybe some kids are too busy to find the time. The older boy who does mow seems to have found a balance in his schedule, but I can see younger kids not having that skulls.

    Of course, the need for a 12 year old to learn to balance time is a whole other discussion.

    For reference, we live in southern Indiana.

  94. A July 26, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Yes. I see kids mowing the lawn all the time and my 7 year old daughter uses the push mower if the grass isn’t too thick to get through. We live in Anchorage, AK though and I’ve noticed we don’t seem to have as much of the loss of childhood that is reported on this blog. Most children I know are encouraged to hike, bike, build forts (both summer and winter) and generally be outdoors.

    We moved here specifically to raise our kids in a supportive environment, and have not been disappointed!

  95. Lori July 26, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    We live in a small town in rural Minnesota and yes kids do still mow lawns and do snow shoveling. My son is 7 and he is tall for his age but he has been helping with mowing the lawn this summer. Last winter he did much of the shoveling. We have newpapers stored in our garage for the delivery people to pick up up each week. He helps the truck unload the papers into our garage and helps people load their papers up.He can’t wait to be old and strong enough to go mow lawns for people and in the winter shovel. He does regular chores around our house and yard every day, whether it’s helping in the garden, put the garbage and recycling out or caring for our dog.

    We also have a daughter that will be 6 soon and she too is expected to do chores around our home and yard every day. I do have 5 adult children that had the same things expected from them and they are all responsible hard working young adults.All of them held jobs through out their teen years and all of them have paid for their college education through working and grants.

    Our neighbor boy is 15 and he has been mowing lawns for people for the last 4 years.Our neighbor girl who is 11 does babysitting. After reading this blog and this post’s comments I am feeling very blessed that we live where we do. Kids still play outside and go to the park on their own and ride their bikes around town…all without adults standing over them. In fact, I just got done making my little one’s come in from playing night games with the neighbor kids. :)

  96. Jennifer July 26, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    I live in northern New Jersey and never see teens mowing lawns here; everyone seems to hire companies. I actually insist that my husband do ours, and I do the weeding, etc and teach our 5 yr old about The Great Outdoors. Mowing was my responsibility as a kid (10+), until dad caught me in a skimpy bikini and reassigned me to family laundry duty.

    That said, I only hire teens to cat/house sit for us. I’ve actually had bad experiences with irresponsible adults! And, I have two great 12-yr old girls as Mother’s Helpers for my kids during the summer to give them experience as babysitters.

    Gosh, if I could find more teens willing to work, I’d find more jobs for them to do!

  97. Laura July 26, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Yes! My neighbor is a widower and he hired my 12 year old son to mow his yard this summer. I’m so proud of the excellent job he’s doing, and my neighbor doesn’t even watch over him to see if he’s doing it correctly. My son loves the extra spending money. Every time I read your blog, I feel so blessed to have our neighbors. When we first moved in a little over a decade ago there were very few children, and those that were around we didn’t see too much. It just takes a few to venture out and the others magically appear. Even just sitting outside on the porch is a draw (at least when its not hotter than Hades outside….)

  98. Rachel July 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Yes! I hired my 14 yr old neighbor to mow and edge my back yard when my lawnmower broke. He did a fantastic job and I’ve seen him mowing at least three other yards in the neighborhood. He and his younger brother also fix small engines in their garage/workshop.

    Seems like some neighborhoods and towns are better suited for free-range activities than others … it doesn’t need a fancy name – it’s just childhood!

  99. Arabella July 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    My kids take turns mowing with our push reel mower and then they rake up all the clippings and dump them on the compost pile. They are all boys, 12, 10, and 7. My oldest started mowing with this type of mower when he was 8.

  100. Jen C. July 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    My daughter and son (ages 14 & 12) mow neighbors’ and friends’ lawns, do misc. yard work, babysit….whatever they can to earn money. Trying to teach them that nobody is just going to hand them anything in this life. If they want something, they have to work for it!

  101. AW13 July 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    Our next door neighbor uses a lawn service, but it appears to be a family lawn service, and it’s usually the owner and his kid, who appeared to be about 15 when we first moved here. Last summer, though, I was watching my friend’s boy (he was 9 at the time) and he was fascinated by my push mower, so I told him that I’d give him $20 if he mowed the lawn, front and back, for me. He is such a skinny little guy that he had a heck of a time pushing the mower, but he stuck to it, and even went back to go over the parts that he’d missed. He definitely earned that money! Another friend of ours has a teenager who is willing to earn his own money. Two years ago, when he was 13, he went to work detasseling corn (which is very hot, very backbreaking work). Last year, at 14, he was the team supervisor in the field, and I haven’t talked to him about his experience yet this year, but I have no doubt that he’ll be positive about it. We’ve also asked him if he’d be willing to babysit for our son (who is 3 and just adores him) and he said that he’d definitely be up for that. And no one around here has ever batted an eye at the idea of kids mowing lawns or shoveling sidewalks. But we’re pretty practical here in Iowa :)

  102. Mark Swan July 26, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I think it’s mostly laziness, but also an assumption that no one would hire them for fear of being sued. Two boys, young teenagers, came to our house while I was at work wanting to mow with their own mower when mine happened to be broken. My wife asked me over the phone (I think she was afraid of being sued) if they could do it for $15. My whole yard takes 1 hour or a little less to mow, but I said fine. When I got home I discovered they just did the front yard and skinned two trees in the process! The front yard takes me 20 minutes. That’s a lot more than I make per hour. Obviously I’ll never hire them again.

    As for my boys, that’s why I had 3 of them! I really haven’t decided when to let my oldest do it. I suppose I could start him on the easy parts at 10 while I’m out trimming.

  103. Brian July 26, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Growing up in the town next door to the one I now live in (Northern NJ) I had to mow our lawn and then go mow the lawn of the old lady next door. It was supposed to be a good deed but she insisted on paying me. I got like $10. Once I got a summer job at 13 and no longer mowed lawns, my dad did it and he got 6 pack of beer. Now as an adult I almost wish I had an old lady on my block now so I could get a 6 pack every weekend :-). Shoveling was the same.

    In my experience, the danger of push mowers is like 99% when the blade gets stuck. I plan to make my son (3 now) mow the lawn when he is 7 or 8 but to teach him NEVER to try to fix the mower. Eventually when he in Jr High or so, he can learn to use a shovel or something to knock out the grass or whatnot. And of course never trust the safety devices to shut it down. Make sure it is off before reaching in by the blade.

  104. Paul R. Welke July 26, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    Here in Edmonton, AB, I only see my lawn for a few months a year. During the looooong winters, we often have kids knocking on the door asking if they can shovel our sidewalks in the numbing cold.

    I’m pretty sure that the day is coming when this will be illegal, as it will likely come to a head with increasingly robust child protection legislation, not to mention the fact that it deprives the government of any tax revenue. The overregulation in North America is getting WAY out of hand.

  105. backroadsem July 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    I suppose I would see things a little differently if I were the one being threatened with a lawsuit. Extremely sad world.

  106. Brooks July 26, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    response to Bill’s earlier post about the FLSA banning yard work as a part of Bulletin 101. Here’s another part of Bulleting 101:

    Young entrepreneurs who use the family lawnmower
    to cut their neighbor’s grass or perform babysitting on
    a casual basis are not covered under the FLSA.

  107. Fuchsia July 27, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    Apparently even adults are no longer allowed to mow lawns. Two volunteers in Toronto have been banned from doing yard work in a local park as they might hurt themselves and sue. The city is fine with them helping out as long as they don’t use power tools. So now, 40 is the new 2!

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/07/26/toronto-fergie-brown.html

  108. Elisabeth July 27, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    We’re more into drought resistant shrubs than lawns in our neighborhood, which makes the guidelines for how to care for a yard a little more difficult than “push this thing back and forth.” But I suspect there is another reason why kids are asked to do less and less, both around the house, in their neighbors yards, or anywhere you used to seem them pitching in: we’ve turned into a society of perfectionists. I have had many parents say to me with a sort of chuckle, “I don’t have my kids do the [dishes, laundry, gardening — insert name of task here] because they’re not good at it and I’m too picky.” I’m a little guilty of this myself when I know we’re about to have company. Seems like we expect ourselves to have perfect looking homes and gardens these days and the kid-level of effort is not tolerated. And since they get no practice, they don’t improve.

    (I do have my kids clean the bathroom and empty the trashes and dishwasher, but they don’t have to do much more than that on a regular basis.)

  109. EricS July 27, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    We’ve been encouraging ours to mow the lawn (he has his own little toy lawn mower her runs across the grass that we already mowed, dig up weeds (he actually helps out with this with one of those weed grabbers), water plants (it gets wet…lol). And he’s very enthusiastic about it. He even looks forward to when we do yard work. Of course, we do teach him safety first. And he’s been known to correct his cousins when they aren’t playing smart.

  110. Hels July 27, 2012 at 1:02 am #

    Oh, and I earned my first money when I was 6. My cousin, who was 13, was working on a local Christmas tree farm pulling weeds and raking the topsoil. He took me with him one day, and paid me half of what he made that day. I was VERY proud. Then by the age of 11 or 12, I was helping out with all kinds of farm work. Most of my grandma’s neighbors were elderly and could use help with a lot of stuff, be it herding goats or picking berries. Usually we did not do it for money but just because it was the right thing to do, because it was fun, because others would do it for Grandma, and because usually whomever we did work for, would feed us. And freshly baked pies were often involved. Fresh-baked blueberry pie was all the encouragement I needed… or getting to play with the newborn baby goats that I carried in my arms for the 4 mile hike through the forest from the pasture where they were born to where the barn was. Feeding rabbits was another fun chore, we were allowed to play with them as long as we made sure none escaped. I would feed them even if I did not have to – but if I pulled a carrot out of the ground and ate it, there was no reason not to make a quick detour to share carrot leaves with the bunnies.

  111. EB July 27, 2012 at 4:06 am #

    Oh gosh. I let my middle daughter start a dog walking/dog sitting business when she was 9. I trusted her to know which dogs were too big for her to take outside, or too unpredictable for her to care for when owner were away. She’s a zookeeper now!

  112. Kristen July 27, 2012 at 5:16 am #

    I’m in Bismarck ND and we currently pay a neighborhood 12-year old to mow our lawn. Unsupervised. He went door to door soliciting customers. Without a parent along.

  113. AW13 July 27, 2012 at 7:18 am #

    I’m about to make a sweeping generalization but:

    Did anyone else notice that on the coasts, teenagers are not mowing lawns, but in the midwest, that is still accepted? I have no conclusions to draw here, but I did notice the trend.

  114. Stephenie July 27, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    I have a couple of examples from Texas (Dallas) but I definitely do not see it as much as I did maybe…what, 10 years ago? I bought a home in a suburb in 2006 and I hired a family business started by the two teenage boys who did so well the parents quit their day jobs and the whole family made a living on mowing lawns. The only other instance I have heard of since then was a good friend of mine who had a neighborhood boy who did it but then he went to college. There are no kids in my neighborhood who do nor have I had any of the other couples I know mention it. But trust me…when my son is old enough (he’s only 3 now) he will be doing ours and hopefully he might try it for extra money. There is no harm in good old fashion hard labor. (Ha, my husband is a film editor and I’m in IT, computers, but I grew up with the concept.)

  115. Jenn July 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    My son was 7 last winter and after last summer’s successful lemonade stand, he wanted to have another entrepreneurial enterprise. With a little help on the computer (he recognizes that spelling is not his forte), he made a flyer to give some neighbours about his snow shoveling business. Unfortunately, we had little snow this winter so he only had a couple of opportunities to earn money this way. He’s enlisted his 5 year old sister as an apprentice for next winter as he’s sure that next winter will have tonnes to make up for last. This summer he wanted to earn money by mowing lawns but we feel 7 is too young for this job. My husband has been having our son assist him with the job so he can learn how to do it. That is one job my husband is eager to pass on to our kids! For now, my kids run a lemonade stand to earn extra cash.

  116. Nicoline July 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    I don’t have time to read all the comments, but I gather it’s now considered child abuse to have kids do chores at home or for someone else? Geez. I guess that makes me guilty. My kids took turns mowing the lawn (about 1/2 acre) from the time they were about 9 or 10 and we didn’t pay them for it either, since it’s just part of the chores. We also made them help shoveling snow and then we’d send them over to the neighbors to clear their driveway as they were older and not in the best of health. The neighbors would pay them, but we never did. The county where we live usually shuts the schools at the mere threat of snow, so they have a whole day off to play in the snow (argh! the horror! playing outside! unsupervised! because you don’t think I’m going to stand around in the freezing cold watching them play snow cow, do you?) after they help clear the driveway. We got new neighbors and their four kids do diddly squat around the house, because “it’s like getting blood from a stone” as the dad told me recently. I merely looked at him pityingly. Yes of course it takes an effort to make them do chores and do them properly, just like it takes time to make them eat with the appropriate utensil(s) instead of their fingers or to drink from a cup instead of a bottle or to potty train them. And with teenagers old enough to drive you always have a big stick: “You don’t do your chores, I don’t teach you to drive” (or you don’t let them take the car once they have their licenses). Worked for me.

  117. Momof2 July 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    My husband has a pretty big mower (too big for the kids to use, or myself for that matter.) I recently asked him if we could buy a small, self-propelled one so the kids can learn how to mow. As soon as we do, they’ll be out there. Guaranteed!

  118. Samantha July 27, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    Living in a small, rural community in N. IL, you still see quite a few kids working in the yard, doing chores, riding bikes, etc. For a farmer’s children, this is normal, obviously, and it was nothing for my classmates who lived on farms to have been up since 4-5am doing their daily morning chores before school, and then coming home (even after clubs & sports practices and such) and doing the other daily stuff on the farm. And during detassling time or the harvest, a lot of us got extra work on the farms. In our neighborhood, kids aged 12+ can put an ad in the paper for babysitting/petsitting services.The cutoff for that list is 17. I don’t keep track of these things and if they’re still common, but I know my cousins have always done yard work–mowing, trimming, weeding, cutting wood, rotating log piles (my cousins & I had to do this as punishment starting around age 6–we moved that wood pile A LOT)–and are expected to take care of animals, help with trash, etc. I think they get allowance that scales based on age and what they’re doing, but we’re a family of workers, so we’ve all been raised to earn our own money, interview for and hold down “real” jobs at 16, balance a checkbook & manage that money, help pay for sports and college and such, etc. There are big gaps between our ages, but this has always been the expectation, and even though there was grumbling, we’ve all ended up being thankful for it, especially as times get tougher and those skills we learned (or were punished into, lol!) at home, on a farm, in 4-H or scouts, etc have really proved their worth.

    On the flip side, working in retail as a supervisor, I’ve seen more and more 17-18y olds (and older!) who have no skills, no drive, no teamwork skills, etc, and must be babysat at work to get their jobs done, since “working” to them is just showing up. That’s all they feel they should do to get their paycheck, as if we have become their parents and are only there to hand out 20s. I’m known for having a very high turnover in my department–if you aren’t willing to work, or can’t be trained to do the job (some kids really do want to work, and you can tell who they are, they just need the training), or I come in and find myself doing my work AND yours, you’ll be fired. At 18, I expect them to be old enough to not be babysat. If they still need to be (and I’ve gotten calls from irate moms before, trust me), then they do not need to be working, as they still have MUCH growing up to do. I’ve always figured these kids were coddled and not expected to do anything “but focus on their schoolwork” and thus lack even the basic skills for holding down an entry-level, “unskilled labor” (as ours is classified at that level) position.

    But I digress. 😛 Living in the midwest, I think it’s normal for kids to pitch in, and absolutely required on a farm/ranch, so no one really gets all offended about it. From what I see at my job, it’s different in the cities.

  119. Jenn July 28, 2012 at 3:39 am #

    This is going around on Facebook right now and thought it was interesting:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150960656284013&set=a.10150205731029013.313482.80449394012&type=1

  120. An July 29, 2012 at 5:00 am #

    My neighbor’s boys go around and mow lawns for extra money. I have a 9 year old who is suddenly interested in earning money so I started training him mowing our lawn. I think the problem is that kids today aren’t money-hungry enough the way we were in the olden days. They are happy to play all day on their videogame systems and see no need to work for something they want to save up for. I remember having to shell out quarters at the videogame arcade when I was 12 and trying to figure out how to earn those quarters! I make my son earn the money he needs to pay for a subscription to his favorite online computer game.

  121. Kathy July 29, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    I know exactly what you mean. That’s why none of my children have ever been allowed to play with any of that stuff. My mother-in-law gave my oldest a Game Boy when he was 7 and we returned it to the store. We have never owned Nintendo or an X-Box, and my children are only allowed very occasionally to play games on the computer. If they don’t have access to that sort of brain drain, they have a lot more time and energy to think of things to do.

  122. suzeoz July 30, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    Testing a 13 year old: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/jul/28/modern-teenage-rite-of-passage

  123. Merrick July 31, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    My kids shovel snow and do many other chorese – but they don’t mow the lawn…

    When we moved here we hired a lawn service because
    1) DH is frequently travelling for work.
    2) I am allergic to grass and very allergic when it’s fresh cut.
    3) at the time our kids were too little
    4) we do not have a good place to store a lawn mower (so we’d have to buy a lawn mower AND a shed!)
    5) Our growing season is short — so we only mow for a couple of months of the year.
    and
    finally – our lawn guy also maintains our sprinklers. So our lawn is pretty carefree for us.

  124. Stephanie July 31, 2012 at 5:29 am #

    My kids don’t do the lawn, but that’s because we rent and the landlord insists on having a lawn service do it. My kids do have chores inside the house, plus water the parts of the yard the poorly designed sprinkler system doesn’t get well enough. We’d never have a garden if they didn’t. Sure, it was a pain teaching them to sweep and mop well enough, but now they’re reasonably good at it. Not perfect, but good enough that I don’t check their work often anymore.

    I like it when kids are entrepreneurial enough to find ways to earn money. The place we lived at when my oldest was a baby, we had one girl come by sometimes to do mother’s helper work for me. It was nice seeing a kid interested in earning her own money, and she was 8 or so.

    Where we are now, the only lemonade stands I’ve seen have been under parental supervision. We did have an older teen come by asking to wash my car, but I had no cash at all at the time, so we skipped that.

  125. What! July 31, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    A couple of weeks ago I was mowing our postage stamp lawn with our push mower when a boy about eight years old rode by on his bike and asked me what I was doing. He thought it was cool and wanted to try. He ended up mowing my whole lawn for me and thought it was the greatest thing ever, he went over it about 4 times he was having so much fun. Next time I see him I’m going to offer him the job for the summer.

  126. caveat emptor July 31, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    My 12 y.o neighbour has mowed our lawn for us while we were away and he has also babysat our toddler. His big sister (15) is the best baby sitter and his little sister (9) can simultaneously entertain our 2.5 y.o and our 6 month old. I think if it weren’t for our great neighbours my wife and I would have lost our minds already….

    More generally I see less expected (in terms of helping out) of kids these days than I remember. My sister’s kids (10 and 7) are great but they don’t even carry their dishes to the sink. Have seen the same with kids of friends too. There are exceptions though. Went over to dinner at friends recently. The 11 y.o. daughter had cooked a super dessert with only minimal parental involvement .

    I think their is quite a strong natural impulse to help as young kids generally want to do whatever the adults are doing. Our 2.5 y.o. always wants to help out with whatever Mom and dad are doing, the challenge is just finding age appropriate tasks

  127. Monica Jones (@Dirty_Hooker) August 1, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    I am 14 weeks pregnant, and I was talking with a friend’s child, 11 years old, about how she’ll be ready for babysitting soon. (I was 9 when I started babysitting, but I recognize that 12 is more expected now.) She did not seem enthused. Her father noted that she liked spending money but not making it. Oh well.

  128. Henry Crun August 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    We make sure that our children (now 17 & 11) have chores to do on a weekly basis – clearing the table after meals, polishing shoes, helping with vacuuming (either one part of the house or cleaning the inside of the car, washing up once a week and mowing the lawn. This is how they earn their pocket money.

    I note that none of their friends seem to have any sort of household chores at all. If we, as parents, fail to teach our children any sort of housekeeping responsibility is it any wonder that the younger generation are unable to fend for themselves?

  129. beezuss August 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    My son is only 20 mo.s old, but I always tell him when we are out walking and saying hello to the neighbors: “Just wait till you can get a lawnmower and mow all these lawns! You’ll be a rich guy!” The neighbors laugh, but they are all in their 50’s and 60’s – which means when my kiddo is 10 they’ll be in their 60’s and 70’s… I’m hoping he can rustle a bit of his college fund mowing, edging, painting, and shoveling…maybe even gutter cleaning.
    There are other kid in my neighborhood in their tween and teen years, but they just seem to skateboard or stay indoors. None of them mow, rake, or shovel.

  130. Brian Finstad August 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    I was glad to see some kids mowing yards for money recently. I too have noticed that I don’t see this as often as when I was a kid. My brother and I started mowing yards for money when we were in 5th grade. We’d ride or push our mowers all over town, including riding the riding lawn mower right down main street. I had a very “free range” childhood and I thought it was great. Love this blog!

  131. Marybeth January 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    We live in Southern California and have two capable children. We had wonderful gardners who helped prior to our having children and we had a natural end to our need for them when we decided to replace the lawn and redo the yard. It was an intentional decision to not have the gardners return as we knew our children would soon be big enough to help. Our kids have taken care of the lawn for several years now. We require protective eye wear and closed toed shoes, etc. just like a real job. I think they are probably two of the few children in our area who do mow the lawn. We may not always have the most perfectly manicured yard…but it is our yard and we enjoy it.

    Unfortunately the lawn is in the back of the house. Maybe if it was in the front more people might notice and let their kids do the work too. But it is also part of being so busy…or having such fragmented schedules that forming a plan for kids to do the work is more hassle than parents want to deal with.

  132. Daniel Nicolai January 28, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    My method with my children is simple. I know that they are ready to perform a task like this when they ask permission. Once they do that, I will help them in any way the like to do the task. (My daughter’s only 8 months though, but when she’s old enough, she will ask).

    A good example of this that I have is that there are two girls on my block, 11 and 13 (the 11 year old frequently babysits for us), and last night it SNOWED here at the Grand Canyon, AZ (somewhere around 4-8″, which is a good healthy snow for us). This morning at 7:15 the girls knocked on our door and asked if they could shovel out my car, our sidewalk, and our parking space. Normally I would do this, and was in fact about to get started, but I appreciated them asking so much that I agreed and told them it was $5 for the both of them for the work (it would really only take about 10-20 minutes). They went to work and I went to take my shower, and I got to enjoy it a bit more because I wasn’t rushed now.

    About 15 minutes later they knocked again and I went out to inspect, not only had they shoveled my walkway, but they got the parking spot my car was on as best they could, got the snow completely off of my car, and had spread some salt on the sidewalk/parking space lightly to make sure it wouldn’t ice over.

    They earned $10 for the great job they did and I told them to keep up the good work.

    So to answer your question, Yes. Kids do still have the ingenuity and ability to perform simple tasks like this and their neighbors are still willing to take them up on the offer. Don’t be discouraged by how many bad stories we see on this page about trying to do good and having it shoot the person in the foot, when you do something like this for a kid, it really makes a difference.

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