It started as a consequence. Oldest has become a proficient reader – enough so that he navigated the PS3 right to the purchase of his favorite game. $20, auto-drafted from my account. (Psst – PS3 people. Some more verification would be nice, thanks!) They like to quietly play video games or watch netflix in the mornings while I’m getting up and around, and it’s quiet. They usually make pretty good choices, and did I mention it’s quiet? So that was working for us. Until this.
They obviously don’t have the income to repay the $20. They had no idea it cost money (and honestly, I’m not sure they really get the concept of money still), so I don’t feel like the first offense was worth taking it all completely away. Besides, that would not teach them much about a real life scenario and restitution. So, we explained the idea of working to pay for things (our house, car, etc), and then explained that they would be working to pay for the game. Before they can play in the mornings, they have a list of tasks to complete. Once complete, they are free to play for their hour or so. The rate is $1/day, so we have nearly 3 weeks to pay for it. (Doesn’t it take that long to build a habit, anyway? Nifty coinkidink there.)
It took all of 10 minutes to make a felt chore chart, and we set it in motion that Monday (this happened on Friday). Sunday, we got everything caught up together so that they wouldn’t be overwhelmed.
That was a week ago, and my house stayed so clutter-free all week that I feel a bit spoiled. I had noticed them making the shift from getting in the way while cleaning to being somewhat helpful, but this week really underscored how much kids can thrive under a bit of routine and predictability.
Mornings now involve them playing (not AS quitely, but it’ll do) in their room and downstairs with a single set of toys, usually until after breakfast. By that point, they are ready to move onto a game, so they quickly get on the ball. I’ve cut some rags into wipes and have them soaked in Dawn/vinegar or my Bac-Out bathroom cleaner the night before (kept in a pencil box since I don’t have a wipes box), and they each take a rag to the bathrooms to wipe them down. I’ve tried to convince them to spread out and get done quicker, but they prefer to stick together. It’s pretty adorable, actually.
Another grown-up feeling thing this has spurred…they are MUCH less likely to dump everything out at once and make trainwreck disasters of play areas, knowing they have to clean it up later. And, they are pretty quick to clean things up when I ask the more it turns into habit.
Also…Nate complimented me on the chart. The icons were declared “Pretty good, mom!”
I think I will give them their first pay statement today for their previous week of work. We have talked about how Mommy and Daddy can’t just decide to put off our work, and they can’t decide that right now, either. Once it is paid for, they will have the option to move their schedule around. For now, it’s first thing in the morning no matter what. And considering this is all brand new to us, it’s working out rather well.