Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ode to the Chore Chart

It’s interesting how many different methods I’ve gone through to try to “inspire” my children to not only help around the house, but to do it cheerfully, with a sense of pride and responsibility.  I’ve tried everything from no less than 5 different elaborate chore charts, a point system, allowances, begging, and bribery.  Though all had great initial results, none of them had had any lasting power. 

I’ve found two main reasons for this failure in chore chart power.
1.        The boys found loop holes in the system, and exploited it… I think I’m raising lawyers.
2.       I wasn’t consistent enough.  I lacked the follow through and had no real consequences for failure to complete any given chore.  I folded at the first sign of impending crying, pouting, anger, puppy dog looks of any nature, or even a cute “Mom… could you help me this time?”  While batting those angelic lashes of theirs.

Basically the systematic breakdown in the “chores” department all comes back to me.  It’s my fault.  I’m a wuss.
And because of my total lack of back bone, I end up with literally the whole house weighing down on my already stressed and over loaded shoulders.

I realized yesterday that if I don’t grow a backbone soon… my back is going to break.
My friend Kate was telling me about a new system that her family was implementing and so far they were having fantastic results.

It is as follows:
Each child is given a list of chores or responsibilities that they are in charge of for the week.  Every day that they complete a chore without being asked to do it, they receive 20 cents for that particular chore.  If they aren’t done by 6:00pm and Mom has to ask the child to complete it, then they lose 10 cents.  If they have to be reminded a second time, they still have to complete the chore, but they will not get paid for it.  If they don’t do the chore and Mom ends up doing it (which is inevitably what I end up doing) then (get this… this is my favorite part!)  they have to pay ME the 20 cents they would have gotten!!!  How’s that for motivation?  J

So today, I typed up a couple of chore charts that they will rotate doing week to week, and I made a spread sheet (I love spread sheets!) to make it easy to keep track of their “income” for the day/week, and every Monday during family night they will get their “allowance” which they truly will have earned.

The moment of truth came when the boys came home from school and I explained the new spreadsheets taped to the hall wall.  Once I told them that they would lose half their pay if they whined, pouted, cried, whimpered, sulked, or even gave me puppy dog eyes of any kind… they got to work… and they actually enjoyed the idea of working to earn some kind of pay. 

After dinner my world was amazing.  I was surrounded by Oz clearing the table and wiping it down, Little Princess wiping the seats off, and Droid doing the dishes.  I didn’t know what to do with myself!  I thought about making a cup of hot cocoa, and relaxing on the couch, but… that goes against my nature. 

I grabbed a rag and helped Droid with the dishes.  And we talked.  And laughed.  And enjoyed working together.

The day ended with the boys room being clean, the basement picked up, laundry put away, the kitchen clean, and no one was crying!  On the contrary… we all had a great day.
And that makes me feel like dancing inside.  Here’s hoping that this continues to work… and I can learn to be consistent! 

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