I’m so passionate about this topic! I’ll even be using some exclamation points throughout this post. That’s how excited I am! Why am I so excited? Because I finally found a chore system that’s working beautifully, which I will explain to you in just a second…read on!
I used to be a yeller. Not like ‘old yeller’, he’s actually really cute (if you were born in the 90’s or later, that line will have no meaning to you). I mean the kind of mom who knew that her kids would only listen and obey if I raised my voice. And if I really raised my voice, then they’d work quicker. They had to see that I was mad, or nothing would get done.
This way of parenting went on for quite some time. And it always made being a parent so unenjoyable. All my friends seemed to enjoy their kids. Being around family members only reminded me that my parenting skills were not up to par. All my sister in laws seemed so natural and perfect at it. Their kids seemed to do exactly what they were told the first time. I had to ask my kids at least 10 times before they would move…but I’d keep reminding myself ‘at least I’m not yelling’. But then by the 10th time of asking, I had to yell. I felt like I had no choice. In order to get what I wanted (them to pick up some mess they made), I had to yell. It only got to the point of screaming maybe a handful of times. I’m certainly not proud of that and vulnerably tell you this so that you can understand that if this is you, I know how you feel.
All the parenting podcasts, books on the topic, advice from friends etc…just wasn’t sticking. Things would work for a little while, then fade away.
My kids were just as frustrated. They probably felt like they had a ‘mean mom’. Although kids are resilient and I was always quick to ask for forgiveness which I am grateful for.
I decided I was ready for calm in my home. And I desired obedience, but I also knew it wasn’t something I could completely control unless I wanted things to escalate, which I didn’t.
In 2017, I invested in a Life Coach. This amazing coach taught me that my thoughts are creating my results. She challenged me to look at my thoughts ever single time I wasn’t getting the result I wanted (kids to clean up their messes). Here’s the common thoughts that would run through my head in the moment: “Why don’t these kids respect me”? “Why are my kids so lazy”? “Why do they only listen to their dad”? “Why are they so disrespectful”? It’s like my brain was playing this record on repeat. It would heat me up so much to the point where I was yelling.
I decided to change my thoughts. It was as simple as that. Instead of the old track I was used to playing when the children wouldn’t do what I asked them, I would manage my emotions by watching what I was thinking. I chose to think thoughts like “Their not cleaning up after themselves has nothing to do with me” and “I’m totally going to figure this out” and “This is exactly what most kids do and it’s okay”.
I think the thought “I’m totally going to figure this out” stuck the most. My creative juices went to town. I got out a notebook and wrote down all the daily chores/activities I wished they would do. I then thought of a few reward systems I knew would strike their fancy…VIDEO GAMES ANYONE? Now, maybe your kids don’t like to play video games, but I know mine are very stimulated by them. They would often come home from school and jump on the computer to unwind for a while. Then I realized “Why am I letting them do this”? Surely if they want that precious electronic time badly enough, they’ll work for it.
So I created “THE CHART”. It’s amazing! I designed it in such a way, that each child can work on the things I think they need to work on most. My son needs to stop complaining every morning about getting out the door on time. My daughter needs to move a little bit quicker in the morning and be more organized so we can get out the door on time. And of course, I want them both eating their lunch I pack them and drinking a green juice or smoothie in the morning. For each activity I want them to do, they earn 5 minutes of electronic time. On top of that, if they do all their chores each day, they get their full allowance at the end of the week.
So let me show you the chart…
The box on the top left with the utensils means “eat all your lunch”= 5 min electronic time. The bed icon=clean your room and make your bed (to my standard). The vacuuming guy icon=clean your zone (they are assigned their bathroom, hallway, and laundry room). The boy and girl icon=walk home from bus stop nicely together (they used to run and scream and fight all the way home…not anymore). The girl and mom doing dishes icon=’ask mom if there is anything you can help with’. The green juice an veggie icon=’drink your green juice shot and take your vitamin for the day’. The morning complaining icon=No More Complaining If we aren’t out the door on time. The book icon=10 minutes of scripture reading or something for your personal development and growth. They can earn a total of 40 min of electronic time/day. Which is actually less than they were doing before and I am happy about that. If they choose not to do something on the list, no problem, I don’t have to yell or get mad. They just get the consequence of not earning all their money or their electronic minutes. Easy!
This system has worked out so nicely, and I evaluate it every few weeks…’do I need to add something different’? Sometimes they’ll master one of these behaviors but need to work on something else, so I swap out something, for something else for a few weeks.
Here is little sisters chart:
As you can see, they’re almost identical, only hers has a box with a timer to remind her to move faster in the mornings instead of dawdling around the house. It keeps her focused on the task at hand.
If you get creative enough, and find that thing your kid really enjoys…and it might take some digging, you can really have a system that works. If I had a teenager who had a phone and loved being on the phone, I could have a rule where he/she gives me their phone until their chores and homework get done. Their reward would be a certain amount of time on their phone. Not an unlimited amount, but a certain amount. I still want to teach them to have a life outside of a screen. This is called parenting. And I would also try and fill in the gaps with giving them more quality time with me. I want to be present. Even when I am home, sometimes I’m not totally present. I step away to check facebook or work on my business. When they are home, I need to learn to put it all away and focus on my home environment. I’ll paint a picture in my mind of what I want that to look like and ask my brain questions like ‘how do I create this vision’, then I wait and let the ideas come as they come.
If you’re interested in getting a chart just like mine going in your home, I dabble in graphic design a bit. I can make one for you with the images or wording you’d like. I charge $15/chart. Let me know if that’s something you’re interested in.
Good luck my friend! I hope you find a system that works beautifully in your home. If you already have one, I want to hear about it!
Post your ideas and thoughts in the comments below.
P.s. Did I mention how clean the kids bathroom always is? One child does the sink, countertop and mirror, and the other child does the floor and toilet. No more apologizing to my friends who show up randomly and need to use the bathroom. Its clean.
This situation has been a total win win for us (Thank you Steven Covey), that I really wanted to share it with you in hopes that I can help some mama out there who feels hopeless.