Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Keeping Kids Accountable

I admit it.  I had fallen into the rut of doing almost everything for my children.  I picked out their clothes.  I made all their meals, packed their schoolbags, even picked up their dirty clothes off the bedroom and bathroom floors. But there came a point at the beginning of this summer when I said to myself, "Self?  What in the heck are you doing?"  This came after spending almost an hour picking up toys and messes after the children had gone to bed.  Why was I the one doing this?  I didn't make the mess.  If anything, I'd picked up that same exact mess at least three times already that day. Why? Why? Why?

I never intended to become the parent who did everything for their kids.  I wanted my children to be independent.  I wanted them to be able to take care of themselves.  And they were - they just couldnt' or more likely, wouldn't  do it.

So I declared war.  As soon as school was over this summer.  I made up a system to "help" them help themselves.  And it's long as I keep up on it.

You see, my children are just like myself.  In order to stay accountable to me, to them, to each other, we need a visible checklist, something we can see what needs to be done.  This can't be something you can hide away and forget - it has to stay constant, and you have to be able to physically manipulate it.

I mentioned in my last post about my love of the Motivated Moms system.  I keep the calendar in a 3 ring binder on my kitchen table.  I HAVE to mark things off the list before I feel like I can finish my day.

The kids are the same way.  Through trial and error, we came up with a system that helps them help themselves (and me in the process).  It's worked for the most part - vacation days kind of put us off.  But the biggest thing is that we keep it visible and that the kids are able to physically manipulate their list.

Here's what we do:

I made up a chore chart for each of the children.  I just used Excel, nothing fancy.  Each child has 7 chores per day.  These things include brushing teeth, making beds, picking up bedrooms, picking up toys, picking out clothes.  They also include some "extra" chores - setting the table, clearing the table, sweeping the floor, taking out the trash, putting away laundry.   Many of the basic chores are the same for each child, allowing me to use the same template for all four munchkins.

I post the chore charts on the side of the refridgerator.  That way, the kids can check themselves to see what needs to be done and I can check to see how they are doing.  When they finish a chore and I've checked it, they can put a sticker on the chart for that day.

Each chore is worth 5 cents of "momma money".  At the end of the week they can earn up to $2.45.  This isn't a real allowance.  It's Momma Money.  The wee monsters and I sat down and came up with a list of rewards that they can "buy" with their Momma Money.  The things included, dinner out, a date with mom/dad to the park, swimming at the college, a sleepover wih a friend; all things that are free or reletively free.  Or they can save up or pool their money to "buy" something larger: a trip to the zoo, a movie date, a toy from the dollar store, etc.

It's working pretty well.  The kids are saving up right now to buy a trip to the zoo for the Halloween event and Thing #1 wants a sleepover with 2 friends.  If they start to fall behind, a simple reminder of what they need to do and what they are working towards seems to help.

And we're all staying more accountable!


H0MEFree said...

Good stuff!

Thanks for sharing!

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