Momlogic's Julie: It cost less than five dollars ... but the results have been priceless.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I had reached a breaking point: The house was in chaos, the kids were neither helping or listening, and things just felt out of control. With school starting, jobs intensifying, and paperwork multiplying, we were losing a handle on things ... fast. What were we going to do?
We sat down and talked it out. Things needed to change. We couldn't get a handle on the cleaning anymore, but we couldn't afford to hire someone. After weighing all our options, it was obvious what needed to be done: The kids were going to have to pitch in more -- period.
But that was a whole other challenge. My 7-year-old and 4-year-old barely lifted a finger. I know that was definitely our fault, but frankly it just felt easier to do things ourselves rather than tell them 500 times to do something. But us doing everything for them wasn't doing them any favors either, and we knew that.
I spent a few hours on a Sunday making a responsibility chart. Each child would have 23 responsibilities that ranged from getting dressed and brushing teeth (without being told) to making their beds and putting away their dishes. We threw in a few "wish list" items like "no fighting" and "no whining or tattling," too. Each time my son or daughter completed a task, they put a star on the chart. At the end of the day, my husband and I would assess if they earned the behavioral stickers. They would earn a dollar a day -- 7 dollars a week -- if the chart was maintained, and would lose money when they did not do their share.
We are in week 3 now -- and the change in our house has been astronomical. The kids are excited to earn their stickers and are doing more than they ever have before. We yell at them so much less. They feel more "grown-up" and are acting more mature, and we have more to be proud of them for. The load on me and my husband is so much lighter now.
Now the pressure's on us to keep up the momentum. The chart is starting to become less exciting and more routine, which means the kids are not quite as gung-ho about it as they were in week one. It's all too easy to slip into old habits, but now that we have seen how much the chart benefits our family, we have a reason to keep it going.
Am I the only one who's felt like an unpaid slave to my kids?