Life appears to have offered me the opportunity to stay at home with my children for now (if you know of any positions that I may be excellent for please let me know). Being at home full time is proving to be an adjustment. Starting with wondering when the kids can go to school/daycare (yes I know the days are long but the years are short…….living it). I am new at this so there are lots of different identities I still get to try out. I have been trying “spotless house, children and supper on the table every night” Mom, and it’s not working for me (remember, I don’t like to cook :p).
This first identity has caused me much stress and sore feet from being on them all day. My favorite moment was when my children asked for ‘soup crackers” for snack. Easy enough, great no dishes, cheap, not healthy but I don’t have to prep anything, good choice………………not as spotless house mom. My response to my darling children; “NO! You cannot have soup cracker for snack, I have swept this floor 3 times today and I am not doing it again. Unless you guarantee me that you will not get any on the floor, NO! Actually No food that makes crumbs……that means no toast either.” On the up side it encouraged them to use their creativity in thinking of ways they could eat their cracker without making a mess, and I love creative thinking.
The other obsessive part was that I felt like I was constantly nagging them to clean things up and pick them up……………and in response to my persistent badgering they began whining more and needing more time from me to think of things they could do if they were not able to take toys out, do art projects, play with playdough or have an abundance of screen time.
Knowing that this identity was not working for me or my family I came up with a plan. A plan to stop nagging the children about cleaning and keep the house tidy (ish).
Now that is an easy thought…….placed into action with follow thru could be different. I didn’t want to create a system that caused our children to expect to be compensated for every little task, (the boss lady in me does not want to create anymore humans for the world who have a sense of entitlement). At the same time I want them to learn to value the work they do and the effort it takes to save and have ‘treats’ and ‘extras’ in their lives. I didn’t want money to be involved because I am not paying these children to learn to be functioning humans, (and I barley remember to carry cash to pay the babysitter remembering to have money for chores is too much pressure for me). I went with a point system. Every chore is a point. And then you take the points “save” them and “spend” them on one of my pre-determined “prizes. (Smartest Mom ever, you do your chores, you save the points and I will give you the options on how to spend them). Life skills like hanging up your jacket, put your back pack away, empty your backpack, do your homework, practice piano, be a kind person does not give my children a point.
What makes something a point value chore or a basic everyday something expected of you while you live in this house? I decided, (don’t tell my children please) that any task I don’t like doing as the mommy is worth a value. We also decided on things together so they could feel ownership in the jobs they would be responsible for. (Rhett told me he would feed the dog….which is great excpet we don’t have a dog.) Picking up toys, unloading the dishwasher, setting the table, putting your dishes by the sink (baby steps, first get them to the sink later put them in the dishwasher Bahahahah), cleaning up all the shoes at the front door, picking up after the baby, (she trashes our house like a tiny tornado ALL DAY LONG! Yes yes the years are short……) and any other extra that might strike me. Each Childs list is tailored to them, building on their strengths, needed life skills and things they are personally working on. One chore that is currently on the list is tiding the basement each night without whining. I am not awarding a point for them to clean up their toys, that they took out to play with, but for cleaning without whining about it.
In order to avoid creating little monsters that will not clean their rooms without getting something, we are creating routines. First is that in order to get screen time they need to complete 4 pages in their workbooks (evil soul sucking worksheet filled work books (ECE friends get it)). Basic cause and effect, if you don’t want to do some education training with paper and pencil you don’t get to zone out in front of the a screen. I am giving them the choice, do it on their time or don’t. (Life skill: if you don’t work to make money you can’t afford to have television…..right?) The only other thing I am using right now is that their rooms must be tidy and beds made before they can play outside. This works at the new house because we have neighbors and they love to play with them, and ride bikes outside. Walking into their rooms and seeing laundry all over the floor, toys and an unmade bed irks me, I am not asking for perfection just respect for the clothing and toys that have been given to you, and reminder I am not your maid.
How do they get to spend their points?
10pts = a Treat (food)
15pts = a special drink at supper (juice boxes, mocktail, chocolate milk)
20pts = Extra 30min of screen time
35pts = Parent does a chore
60pts = Stay up 30min late
100pts = No chore day (should they be able to save enough points for this it might drive me crazy lol)
Now to continue to follow thru. I already feel more piece full as laid back mom, with daily habits for her children. Now what other identity can I try out, and make my own version?
Do you have a chore system that works for your family?