At first I thought it was a little crazy because I would have to spend the summer, a month of the summer, away from my friends and stuff, but then, after we started doing it, it became fun and it's been really fun. —Adam Murset, 11
PACE, Fla. — The Murset children spent their summer doing chores — just not at their own home.
Financial planner Gregg Murset and his wife Kami loaded their six children, ages 7 to 16, in the Phoenix family's RV to do volunteer work at the homes of families in need across the country. Murset said he wanted to combat the mindset of the "entitled generation" one chore at a time.
"I think they initially thought, 'Dad, the chore thing has gone too far, you know, you are crazy.' But as we started reading stories about the people we were going to go serve, it all started to jell for them. They saw the bigger picture," Murset said on a recent morning as the family did chores at the home of Nicole and Todd Blancheri in the Florida Panhandle town of Pace.
Eight-year-old son Wyatt Blancheri has Hurler syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that progressively damages his organs and brain. Because Wyatt's parents are often busy with his medical needs, household chores like cleaning the fish tank, vacuuming, mowing the lawn and washing the car sometimes go undone.
The Blancheris watched as the Mursets pulled ladders, hoses and other cleaning supplies from the RV and set to work both inside and outside their home.
"They are doing a lot of those chores that we just honestly don't have time to do," Nicole Blancheri said. "It means a lot to us that they have so generously donated their time to help us out."
Adam Murset, 11, mowed the Blancheris' lawn and helped wash their car.
Adam said he wasn't thrilled when his dad first proposed spending the summer doing chores for others. But he said meeting children like Wyatt and doing work at Ronald McDonald Houses around the country has been a good experience.
The reward in helping families like the Blancheris is about giving back or sharing their earnings with people who need help, Murset explained.
"The next generation thinks 'We are entitled to whatever we want.' Not in my house," said Murset.
For instance, Murset — who has a parenting website — recommends requiring a child to work for the privilege of having a cellphone.
"You've got to tie work and reward together," Murset said. "Especially in that cellphone, it seems like that is such an integral part of a teenager's life, but you tie it to where they have to make them pay for some of it, it makes a big difference."
Murset has also developed a cellphone app that allows parents to assign chores to their children. The kids keep a log and are rewarded points that correlate to a monetary value determined by their parents. The children can then decide whether to save, share or spend what they have earned.
Murset said his older children occasionally complain that their friends don't always have to work for the things they want. But he said his years as a financial planner taught him that successful people work hard and are smart with their money — a lesson he fought to instill in his kids from the time they were toddlers, having meltdowns in stores about things they wanted.
The Mursets' travels took them 6,500 miles from Arizona to the East Coast and back. A public relations firm helped arrange for publicity along the way, and the family was frequently written up in news reports.
And Adam has learned a lot about doing yard work.
"I've done lawns, like what I did today, and we've pulled trees out and done other things like pulling weeds and picking up leaves," he said.
He added, "At first I thought it was a little crazy because I would have to spend the summer, a month of the summer, away from my friends and stuff, but then, after we started doing it, it became fun and it's been really fun."