The Horrible Setting of the Rules and How I Got Them To Agree With It

How’s everyone doing today? I’m frazzled from my day of Mom duties. Mom duties include keeping everyone happy and healthy. We all know very well that making every body happy is impossible, but ticking everyone off is a piece of cake. Please allow me to share a few ideas that I have implemented to keep my children happy and consequently unhappy at the same time.

The Chore Jar

The chore jar has actually been a success. We were spoiling our children by only requiring that they make their beds in the morning before any screen time (video games or television). Once I realized that I wasn’t being paid enough for my maid position within the household, I decided to outsource. Enter, the children.

This list hangs on the door for easy reference of chores to pick from and rewards given for good attitudes while doing them
This list hangs on the door for easy reference of chores to pick from and rewards given for good attitudes while doing them.

The chore jar list outlines expectations, rewards, and options. The list reads:

  • One Chore Stick:
    • 30 minutes screen time on any of the following:
    • Tablet
    • Console
    • T.V. Show
  • Two Chore Sticks:
    • 1 hour screen time on any of the following:
    • Tablet
    • Console
    • T.V. Show
    • Also given a popsicle or other snack
  • *Bonus* -Whoever chooses the toilet first during the week will have the option of doubling their reward or amount of sticks for 1 day during the week
  • *Bonus* -Sticks do not have to be cashed in on the day earned. They can be saved for larger prizes like a trip to the movies, a toy, or a lunch/dinner date out.
  • List of Available Chores (Remember to Share):
    • Sweep kitchen floor and Swiffer
    • Clean sink, counters, and oven top
    • Load dishwasher
    • Unload dishwasher
    • Bathroom sink and mirror
    • Toilet 🙂
    • Bathroom rugs, floor, sweep, and swiffer
    • Living room cleanup
    • Bedroom cleanup
    • Dusting
    • Aid in Organizing
  • Amount of sticks awarded depend on quality and attitude. Chores are required everyday. No opt-outs. Who would want to miss out on this anyway? 🙂
  • We will explain how to do the job once. You will be told the quality expected. After that, it’s up to you. Get to earning! 🙂
Three mason jars accompany the list. One to hold the "house sticks" and one for each of the older two.
Three mason jars accompany the list. One to hold the “house sticks” and one for each of the older two boys. J is taking his nap at this time.

 

Here we have two of the sticks from the Chore Jar. The stick with the red is the toilet "wild card" stick.
Here we have two of the sticks from the Chore Jar. The stick with the red is the toilet “wild card” stick.

Whenever they do their chores, they are graded on both performance and attitude. Attitude is a big factor here. This being a stipulation has created children who find the fun in their chores. They make karate noises, wear drying towels like capes, you get the idea. I never thought in a million years that I could get them to be joyous while cleaning the toilet, let alone have to rock, paper, scissors for it! If performance and or attitudes falter, there is an option of gaining no sticks at all for the chore done (one even did chores for free just today). However, if it is done to outlined expectations and with a smile, then they can gain up to two sticks. When everyone is done, we have a small awards ceremony where they are awarded their sticks and told why they earned what they earned. They are then given the option to either cash in their sticks, or hold on to them for larger prizes. There is a maximum amount of four sticks per day. The wild card is counted as a stick, making 6 the maximum amount awarded when cashing it in to double their amount for the day. This implementation was like a gift from the heavens, let me tell you. This only took one very early morning and $4 to make.

I found this idea on http://livingwellmom.com/2015/07/chore-sticks-simple-chore-system-kids-works/ and adapted it to my own family.

Above are my own images.

 

The Weekly Planner

Also from the dollar store, a dry erase magnetic planner steps in to help organize the day.

Our magnetic, dry erase board stays on the fridge to remind us how our days and week line up
Our magnetic, dry erase board stays on the fridge to remind us how our days and week line up.

Since summer time allows for several hours in the day, we have come up with themed days:

  • Make Something Monday
    • Monday is craft day and one of my favorite days. It can be a bit difficult balancing the older two with special needs activities for the youngest, but I haven’t received any complaints thus far.
  • Time to Discover Tuesday
    • We find a topic that we are all interested in learning a little bit more about and then research it. YouTube has been our most used source so far. Did you know there are more things than cat videos on YouTube? Who knew? As you can see in the picture, today was stop animation day. That was pretty awesome!
  • What’s the Sun Wednesday
    • This is the day we get outside with our only excuse being the weather. We are fortunate enough to live right down the road from a very nice park that has something everyone can enjoy.
  • Thoughtful Thursday
    • Thursdays are set aside for two main purposes with the same core foundation. First, we learn a little American Sign Language. This is set up for our youngest with Cri Du Chat. He mainly communicates with sign language and currently has a limited vocabulary. We are in hopes that setting aside one day for this a week will not only improve J’s communication skills, but help L and W learn about acceptance for all disabilities. The second part of this day is to do something selfless for someone else. Here, the boys have to get a little creative, but they’ve managed so far. I cannot coach selflessness, it has to come from within.
  • Freaky Friday
    • Friday is another researching day, but equally as fun. We try to learn something unique about different cultures, human abilities, nature, or the world. The Guiness Book of World Records is a favorite in this category.

Please ignore that the board says “shopping list.” We joke that if these things aren’t done, we’ll be shopping for new kids. (Our children are fluent in sarcasm, please don’t report me for mental abuse!) This side of the list is pretty self explanatory after you get past the light-hearted threats. I chose not to put times beside our daily routine because things are always changing around here. They need structure, but I am no miser. It’s summer time for goodness sakes! (Yes, I stole that line from the kids) I do allow them to sleep in, stay up late, extend an activity, or reverse the before and after lunch activities depending on the flow of the day. After all, summer only last a couple days in their minds, right? Don’t worry structured parents, as back to school gets closer, bed times and wake up times are more sternly enforced.

All of us here wake up slowly, except for J, who wakes up with the biggest grin imaginable ready to rock and roll. This is where we all seem to get off track. We are a house of five with only one bathroom. Showers are split between day and night and because of the morning showers, breakfast doesn’t always happen all at once. The one bathroom is also why there is a sneaky little bit of free time in the morning. They are allowed to enjoy their different forms of media in the morning without cashing in their chore jar sticks and I am allowed time to shower after everyone has been fed and cleaned themselves. Such a privilege!

We start our “daily activity” early enough to be mostly done before lunch. This is where the themed day comes in. If it goes on pause, that’s perfectly fine, but J’s tummy waits for no man. This 48 pound little man can woof down more food in one setting than I eat all day. High metabolism is a part of Cri Du Chat. However, after eating his own weight in food, he still requires a nap. A no nap J is a very unhappy J.

While J dreams of peanut butter and bananas, the boys and I knock out the chore jar. Afterwards, they are given the option of cashing in. All cash ins have to be made with consideration of others in the house hold. Everyone has to have time to fully enjoy the fruits of their labor. Though I have no sticks, I fit in a chore and a couple rounds of Halo before the boys get their turns. I am trying to teach sharing the gaming systems after all. 😉

Journal time is next on the list. If anyone has had any marks on the Accountability Chart (that one’s coming soon, hold your horses), they must right 10 sentences per offense in the backs of their journals. I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t she say she isn’t a miser? Those poor children probably have to write their fingers off.” The goal here is to take responsibility for your actions. Simply seeing it on a sheet isn’t enough and taking away their screen time defeats the purpose of being eager to earn it. These two are always kept separate.

The front of the journal is for positive and the back is for the negative. See the symbolism? We put all the negative behind and start off on a positive note. I was rather proud of myself for that one. *brushes dirt off shoulders* Writing assignments are no fun for anyone. Especially if you’ve just written 70 sentences like L did one day. Here’s the loop hole, drawing is also allowed. Both boys enjoy drawing and can flex their artistic skills rather than write something that either makes them happy, or something they just need to get off their chests. Being a kid is so stressful nowadays. I’ve drawn that conclusion from L’s writings. It may have been influenced by the 70 sentences, but he’s not always a happy camper when it comes to journal time. That number was his highest, so maybe this rule is working.

After dinner and showers/baths (J enjoys a good slippery soak), is family time. This is when we all come together and play cards, board games, or watch a movie. J rules the roost, so whatever we do is usually based on his behavior in the evening. Movies tend to win 9 times out of 10. If I could only understand the language, I would be able to quote the entire Minions movie.

Now for everyone’s favorite part of the night! Okay, maybe it’s just mine and J’s favorite part of the night. Bedtime! You just can’t keep that kid down. He even gets excited to go to bed. I’ve had a discussion with the older boys that we need to all be a little more like J. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over to well with them. At least I tried.

 

The Dreaded Accountability Chart

No one likes this one, it’s a daily struggle for us all, but it helps…. maybe…

The chart that no one likes.
The chart that no one likes.

This chart… Ahh, this chart. So much frustration has been caused by this chart. It doesn’t matter how much I explain that I’m not raising entitled, rude, misbehaving children, they still don’t seem to embrace this with open arms. I wonder why that is? No one likes to be held accountable for their poor actions and this is the entire point. This chart is not meant to be liked. The purpose is to avoid it as much as humanly possible. L, however, seems to love this chart. He colors all over it. They are both assigned a color and use that color to tally every time there is an infraction. I chose the subjects for this list based on what we both had to fuss at them for on a constant basis. I still pick my battles, even with this chart, but some things on here had gotten out of hand. They are as follows:

  • Volume (talking too loud or screaming) (They always reference J on the screaming, but again, J rules the roost)
  • Being (overly) Dramatic
  • Bubble Popping (invading personal space)
  • Telling Others What to Do
  • Not Using Manners
  • Ignoring Table Etiquette (Does anyone else have children that sit sideways, poised to run at a moments notice, which causes food to fall onto and stain their fabric covered chairs?)
  • Taking Things Too Far
  • Stealing the Spotlight
  • Interrupting
  • Whining
  • (General) Disobedience

The punishment for this was outlined above. Tears have been shed and fear has been struck. Success!

Last but not least;

Oops, I Goofed!!

Because saying sorry can be difficult.
Because saying sorry can be difficult.

Here’s a nice simple one that has come in quite handy. When I explained this sheet the first time around, I used Shawn and I as the example. I asked the kids if they had ever seen Shawn/Dad and I have an argument. They looked at one another and came up with the correct answer. Never. The reason why, I told them, was because we use this chart in our own way. Whenever one of us annoys the other (which happens with all people), instead of getting angry we let the other person know how we feel. When we calmly tell them, there is a chance for instant reconciliation. Whether you believe you are in the right or in the wrong, apologizing for making someone else upset can bring you both to a happier conclusion.  Learning to be humble and accept that you may be wrong, not exactly in content, but in actions,  is a fundamental part of their upbringing in my personal opinion. I also felt that simply forcing them to say sorry to one another wasn’t enough. There is no sincerity in that most of the time. With the added sections, they are made known to what actually happened and the offended party better accepts the apology because their concern was spoken. Not only has this helped them think from a different perspective, but it has helped cut down on the amount of grudges held between them.

The original inspiration for this homemade chart came from http://from-student-to-teacher.tumblr.com/post/125869285114/httpswwwpinterestcompin187180928240113090

Above are my own images.

 

 

Thank you very much for sticking around for this post. I hope you enjoyed some of the ways I’ve tried to add both positive reinforcement and negative consequences to everyday life. Having these written down in plain sight has helped us all to not bend the rules. Admittedly, I myself wouldn’t have stuck by all of these were they not written in stone, or cheap construction paper in this case. I hope you all have a lovely day!

 

 

 

 

 

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theresaroberts@live.com

I am a mother of three young boys who has had a revelation. Recently, I left my full-time, second shift position as a factory worker to live life how I believe it should be lived, with family. My refusal to give up any more of my children's younger years has brought me to this point. Now for my only problem... Though I'm quite confident, I am also very clueless. What do I do from here? Let's figure out this thing called life together, shall we?

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