Monday, April 16, 2012

new something

I have something to write down and didn't know where to write it, except a blog I haven't updated in a year and a half. Oh well!

I'm starting something new with the kids and I hope it will be a good idea, or it might fall by the wayside (like, say - blogging?) but it might work and then I'll be glad I'm writing it down.

I have decided it's time to have the kids do some chores, take some responsibility and this laissez-faire way of doing things has been more laissez than faire. I realized, they DO help when they are asked, they are capable, but I am just finding it easier to do things myself than be responsible for making them responsible.

I pondered this for well over a year because I recall having conversations with my friend Christy about whether or not to tie chores to allowance (she is firmly in the NO camp) and I agree with her that children should just be responsible for chores because they are members of the household/family, they shouldn't require payment for these things. And that allowance is paid to them because they are members of the household/family, not because they are hired hands.

However, there is the age-old question of how to get them to do anything without payment, and how grouchy parents get about handing over allowance to lazy kids who have done nothing to earn/deserve it. Not to mention the keeping track of who gets what and who does what and all of that. It's more work for the parent, right? I've looked at all kinds of chore charts and reward systems, using buttons and rocks and marbles and stickers and whatever. It all looks like work. I saw one that used pretty stones and jars but I do not have any pretty stones. Then it dawned on me - if these stones represent money (because, who are we kidding? It's going to add up to money...) then why not just use money in the first place? What better way to teach them the value of a dollar than to substitute pretty stones for actual money?

Finally finished pondering, I have a solution. The kids are getting their 'allowance' in quarters. It goes into a jar with their name on it. They also have a list of simple things that they are expected to do as members of our family. There is a third jar with more quarters in it. All of this kept out of reach. I'm going to put their allowance in every week, in quarters. I told them, instead of reminding you to do stuff or not do stuff, I am just going to take a quarter from your jar and put it in the middle jar. Then I'll remind you to do whatever it is, because you are still responsible to do these things. At the end of the week whatever you are left with is your allowance.

Then, I have another list of things I need help with that I would like them to do. I decided they can earn quarters by doing this stuff without being asked. If I ask them, they still have to do it of course, but no quarter.

So, technically, they are getting paid not to do their chores, because they have to do them no matter what. They're just getting paid for me not to have to waste my time nagging them. They are getting paid for BEING RESPONSIBLE.

First Step - Implementation

So, here we go starting with the money jars, and already there is a ridiculous situation involving the choice of the little baskets I bought them to put their money in. The oldest child is having an emotional breakdown despite the super-duper fair pick a number between one and ten method to decide who gets to choose first, she gets to choose LAST, and does not get the one she wanted and is scowly. However the discussion of the system, the list made of chores and painting of the little baskets all continues as planned, despite one very sulky individual.

Day 1

I wake up this morning to the 6 year old all dressed and ready, her room spotlessly tidy, bed made and eager to have help with her first chore which is to let the dogs out every morning. So far, so good. The two older girls have been working on their room, and the sulky oldest declares she did not have time to make her bed, because she was cleaning. Other bed is made. Everyone gets to school.

I go in the kitchen and there are four dishes of cereal still sitting out, despite the fact that it is clearly on their list of responsibilities to clear their dishes in the sink after eating. This is completely new to them, because I am ashamed to say I've always done it. So I don't blame them for forgetting, and didn't I say if I have to remind them, I will take a quarter?

Okay, so here is the dilemma I think most parents face, the temptation to let something slide. We think, hey, maybe they didn't understand the rules, they need to get used to this new world order, we'll give them a chance, let them know they *could* have lost their quarter but don't take one yet, etc. We live in a world of expecting warnings, alternatives, second chances, etc.

I am NOT going to be tempted! NEW RULE! I have decided that is a huge weakness in my parenting. They don't not understand the rules, they understand them just fine. It's me (the parent) who is deciding rules can bend and don't need to be followed. How the heck can I expect them to figure out that this is Serious Business if I am caving on day 1? It's a freaking quarter!

So that is one huge important part of any plan - to make sure that as a parent, I will not be afraid to go through with any consequence I invent. If I will be tempted to do a "okay, just this once, but NEXT TIME...." then obviously I didn't do a good job picking a consequence for that action, if I am reluctant to apply it.

So. Quarters taken from four dishes. One extra quarter removed from the girl who 'didn't have time' to make her bed because she was cleaning her room. I am not starting this out with excuses and exceptions! It will be doomed to failure!

1 comment:

Christy said...

Stay strong! I'm watching your plan to see how it works because oh, do I hate the nagging.