Back when school was about to start, I was sitting in my hairdresser's chair, waiting for her to finish working her magic, when I started lamenting about our chore charts and how the system just wasn't working for me anymore. Okay, I was whining. Is that better?
I've told you that my hairdresser is a magician, so I was very interested to hear what she had to say about chores. Lucky for me, she had a lot to say. We got into a big discussion about how we were tired of nagging our kids to finish their chores. To just stay focused long enough to get them done. Stop beating a dead horse and do the ding dang chore so you can ding dang play before you leave for college, PUH-lease!
I'm sure you are familiar with the scenario.
The Magician shared with me how she revamped her whole system by assigning just one chore to each kid per day. Every Monday they had the same chore. Every Tuesday they had the same chore, and so on. I was desperate and willing to try anything, so the schedule you see above is what we came up with. And guess what? It worked.
Mostly. I really like that there is just one chore to focus on because the kids aren't overwhelmed with a ginormous list. Now, they are still responsible for other "procedures" as I like to call them. Sneaky, yes, but that's what us moms are paid to be, aren't we? Oh wait. There is no pay.
All the more reason for us to do whatever the heck we want to do. My house is a small country and I am the Queen, and all that jazz.
The "procedures" I'm talking about (by the way, snarky air quotes are required) are making the bed, picking up after yourself, brushing your teeth, etc. Basically, whatever I say they are, on any given day. I just point at the kid, say do blah-blah (please) and it is a "procedure," not a chore. Also, Saturdays, which are my cleaning days, they must be available to assist me at a moments notice. I make it a rule to never bend over to pick up anything that I didn't put on the floor, so it's mostly that sort of thing. "Pick up that creepy looking horse or I'm going to suck it up in the vacuum cleaner. Head first."
It works for me.
The nifty thing is that the kids are not doing fewer chores, but they think they are doing fewer chores.
The only part of this system that didn't work long term for us, was the same chore on the same day part. The problem is that some days we aren't home long enough to do even the one chore. Every week is different because there's always something going on it seems. It's probably like this for everyone, right?
Anyway, I've been thinking and thinking and thinking about how I can improve this system, and I came up with this.
You know how I love me some magnets, right? Well, couple that will some jumbo popsicle sticks, a little pretty paper, and some Mod Podge, and we're in business. They are very simple, but they are versatile.
Our chore charts have always had a home on the side of our fridge, so that part is still the same. Now each chore is on it's own popsicle stick under the responsible party's magnet face. We started with the three chores above, that each of the girls have to do at least once a week. Next, they took turns picking their chores.
These are the chores I gave them to pick from this go 'round. Aren't they lucky?
After they chose their chores, I moved them around a little bit so they wouldn't both get scoop litterbox on the same day. That would be a waste of a perfectly good chore, don't you think?
As you can see, our chores aren't tied to specific days, but instead we will rotate them in order. If we are home and the chore can be completed, as decided by myself and my mood of the moment, then each child will do the chore on top, then rotate it to the bottom of their stack. This way things still get done on a regular basis, but maybe not on June Cleaver's schedule.
Also, we can trade chores when they get tired of the chores they picked. We like to mix things up to keep them fun. Because chores are so fun.
I'm really excited about the 10-minute timed family pick-up. We've never done this one before, but I have high hopes for it. The idea is to set the timer for 10 minutes, and everyone runs around and tries to pick up and clean as much as they can before the timer goes off. Doesn't it sound like fun?
Okay, pretend then.
Here's the other part of the chore system that the Magician gave me. When the girls finish their chores they come to me to get a token, which is simply a poker chip. If they forget, the token is forfeited. This puts the pay out on them, and let me tell you, this is really working for me. Before, I felt like every time I turned around I was handing out allowance and printing out new chore charts. Now, I have more cash because they hardly ever remember. Not that I should be cheating my kids or anything like that, but I'm teaching responsibility, right? If you don't punch your timecard, you don't get a paycheck, right?
Do people even still use timecards? Did I just totally date myself? Let me guess, hourly wage earners are microchipped and as soon as they walk into the building, their time is noted by a computer off site, and their paycheck is delivered electronically to their bank without them ever knowing how it was calculated? Do I watch too much Sci-Fi?
Anyway, as I was saying, the poker chips are worth 25 cents each. They can't cash them in until they have $5 worth collected. Then I take 20% off the top for charity and savings.
The tokens also work great for
bribing consequences. I can take them away if the girls misbehave, or I have to ask them more than once to do something, or not do something, whatever the case may be. I have to tell you also, they think the tokens are pretty cool. Losing a token is a big deal around here.
And it makes me feel powerful. Which I love.
I also put the tokens into play to curb some other undesirable habits, shall we say.
For example, if Annika gets up in the morning the first time we ask her, and she gets dressed, brushes her teeth, etc., the first time we ask her, she gets a token. If she doesn't, not only does she not get a token, but she can lose tokens if we have to ask her to get her gnarly carcass out of bed repeatedly.
For Zoe, if she wakes up without her hair looking like this,
she earns a token. If she wakes up and it does look like this, she can still earn a token if she takes care of it by herself. For example, like this:
Hey, whatever simplifies things for me, that's what works around here. I've had to work very hard at relaxing my standards.