Mother Invests in Secondhand Vending Machine to Make Kids Do Chores to Pay for Snacks

June 13, 2020 Updated: June 13, 2020

Mother of four Sarah Balsdon had struggled caring for children during the United Kingdom’s lockdown during the pandemic. In particular, getting her four kids to do chores around the house and homework was proving too much to ask. That changed, however, with the acquisition of a secondhand vending machine.

The 29-year-old nurse from Ashington, Northumberland, the United Kingdom, paid 100 pounds (US$125) for the coin-operated vending machine, which dispensed chocolate, candy, and chips. She and her husband, Kyle, 29, made the purchase as a last resort after their four kids, Shannon, 9, Lucy, 8, Jack, 5 and Elijah, 2, simply refused to help around the house.

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Shannon, 9, Lucy, 8, Jack, 5 and Elijah, 2, with the vending machine (Caters News)

While spending more time at home during the shutdown, they were also asking for sweet treats more than usual, the mom noticed. “They also started sneaking them upstairs without me knowing,” Sarah shared with CafeMom.

“The healthy snacks are all free but this way they will have to do jobs and school work to earn money to buy sweets from the vending machine,” Sarah told Caters. “During lockdown, the kids have been wanting sweet stuff all the time and they have been refusing to help around the house.”

She came up with the idea of an in-house vending machine randomly but soon realized she’d hit on something great. At first, the family’s kids found it “mean,” she said. However, it wasn’t long before they started helping out with various tasks such as unloading the dishwasher, dusting, tidying their bedrooms, and putting out used milk bottles for the milkman.

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The vending machine Sarah Balsdon bought so her kids could pay for their own treats and snacks (Caters News)

Meanwhile, the kids are developing a sense of entrepreneurship as they save up pocket money to pay for snacks from the vending machine. The prices weren’t high, yet her kids would still have to earn their snack money.

It’s also been a way to cut down on the junk food and encourage healthier eating, Sarah says. “I was sick of the arguments about unhealthy snacks so hopefully this will encourage them to work for them,” said the mom, though she admits she doesn’t know how long the ploy will work.

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Sarah Balsdon, 29, with her husband, Kyle, 29, and kids, Shannon, 9, Lucy, 8, Jack, 5, and Elijah, 2 (Caters News)

Sarah shared her snack strategy on social media, though she didn’t plan on it going viral. Many people online shared mostly positive reactions, she says. “Let’s see if they can sneak sweets and treats now!” she wrote on May 24. “I think people are understanding that the kids are learning about money.”

Meanwhile, the lockdown has caused hassles for Sarah and her husband, she adds.

“With the kids being off school, it has been really difficult with child care,” she shared. “I’ve been at work the whole time and my husband was furloughed for six weeks but now he’s back at work. The girls have gone back to school for child care.”

On a positive note, she adds, “There are always fun ways to keep control of parenting during challenging times like lockdown.”