Thursday, June 11, 2009

Breaking In a New System

The house was abuzz today, abuzz with the sounds of vacuuming, of bottles spritzing, drawers slamming, and rags swish-swishing away layers of dust. No, we weren't getting ready for a party, although we are pulling double-duty tomorrow in the entertaining department with one family coming mid-morning and staying through lunch and another family coming mid-afternoon and staying through dinner. No, we're just breaking in a new chore system courtesy of America's Cheapest Family.

I've tried so many systems, and they have all broken down for one reason or another. I say broken down rather than failed because I'm sure, had I possessed a little sticktuitiveness, any one of them could have worked successfully. I know that, while it is the kids' responsibility to pull their weight around here, habits take awhile to form, and therefore it will take some prodding and reminders on my part until the children have made their chores a habit.

Like I said, I got this new idea from the Economides, America's cheapest family, and I tweaked it to fit our family. It took quite a bit of preparation, so I'm that much more motivated to make it work. The whole premise behind the system is to teach children real-world applications about earning money. They fill out a time card daily, and they can earn as much or as little as they put into their chores.

This is how I created the system for our family:
1. First I created one poster called "Chores". Then I thought of everything I do everyday, chores-wise right down to the nasty nitty-gritty of cleaning toilets. I then made little 1"x1" cards for each chore which have on them the name and a fun clipart of the chore. I adhered those velcro circle thingys to each card and the joining circle thingy to the poster.

2. I then created a poster with 4 parts for each child: "Chores", "Done", "Bonus", and a time card slot. I affixed velcro thingys on these posters as well (the side of the circle thingy that joins with the velcro on the little cards; you will therefore use more of one side of the velcro thingys than the that?)

3. Finally, I made time cards for each child where they could record their points and bonus points everyday and then total them at the bottom. That total is then multiplied by their rate, which gives them the total dollar amount they should receive for their allowance.

And here's how it works:
1. Every night I place on each child's chart in the "Chores" box the chores he/she must do the next day.

2. The next day, the children theoretically do said chores and move each little card over to "Done" as each chore is complete.

3. Then, theoretically, the children are so responsible and so inspired to do their part for the family that they take a look at the Chore poster to see what chores have not been assigned (organizing a closet or cleaning a toilet, for example). They take the unassigned chores of their choice, complete them, and then place the little card on the "Bonus" section of their poster.

4. At the end of the day, we total the chores on the time cards. They receive 1 point for each chore completed and 2 points for each Bonus chore completed.

So, here are a couple of problems I ran into today:
1. First, I had to figure out what rate to pay each child. My initial thought was to pay each child 1 cent per year of age, but when I began totalling up potential earnings, I realized our children's chores might total right out of our budget. So I assigned $.06 to my oldest, $.05 to the next, $.04 to the youngest boy, and $.02 to the Princess. (I don't think we have to worry about her earning much, though. Yesterday I asked her to clean her room. She gave me a questioning look like, "Are you talkin' to ME?" I instructed her again, and she looked at me with such an offended look that I would even begin to suggest that she should clean anything.) Naturally, just like in the real world, they are eligible for raises for particularly extraordinary work.

2. I slept in a little today. OK, so I slept in a lot today. When I finally did get up, Michael had already cleaned his bathroom and was almost done with Audrey's room. I had told the kids that if one of their siblings did not complete a chore, that chore could be "stolen" and completed by someone else for bonus points (hey, it's dog eat dog out there in the real world!). Michael, without giving his poor little sister the benefit of the doubt, had already decided that she was not going to complete that task and had "stolen" it from her. I fixed this by telling the kids that they must wait until late afternoon to complete others' outstanding chores.

3. Jacob vacuumed the upstairs today for bonus points, and tonight I heard him and Alex plotting about who would vacuum tomorrow. As much as I love a really, really clean house, I've never in my life vacuumed EVERYDAY. I told them they need to approve bonus jobs with me before taking them to task.

So, in theory, it seems like an effective system that teaches so many lessons in responsibility, math, diligence, and initiative. There was an overabundance of those 4 things oozing out of our home today. We'll see how tomorrow goes...and the next 20 days since the experts say it takes 21 days for a habit to form.


dclouser said...

You go girl! Love this system. At least your kids will learn to clean, something most of us MKs never did. Cleaning is still not my strong point, even though there's nothing I like better than a clean house!

CrossView said...

So far the results sound amazing! Woo Hoo!

I'm most envious of the fact that you slept in!

Marianna said...

This looks great! I love the charts- nicely done. I hope you post updates. I'd like to see how it goes. Here's something that may streamline your daily assignments...I made a chart of daily chores for each day of the week. That way every Tuesday my plants get watered, on Thursdays their beds get stripped, etc. You could do something similar so you don't have to make assignments daily. That's where I would drop the ball.
Hope they keep their momentum. Money is a great motivator!

Courtney said...

I hope this one works for you. I have had so much trouble figuring out a system and we just recently started a new one, too. (That's working so far.) That's funny about the vacuuming. We HAVE to vacuum at least once a day, sometimes more. At least in the living room! I don't mind vacuuming at all-now cleaning bathrooms, that's another story!

Kathleen said...

Marianna, Thanks for the suggestion.

LOL, Courtney--I'm sure our house NEEDS daily vacuuming, but...hauling the thing out, etc. I do use my swivel sweeper (or rather now assign one of the kids to it) in the kitchen multiple times a day. (I miss my dog vacuum!)

sharon said...

i just want my boy to turn on the light and lift the lid when he goes pee in the morning. he stumbles in the bathroom and when i catch him and give him the evil eye he just smiles and says "oops". i think i'm going to give up the fight and install an electric sensor so the light turns on auto-magically and paint the bathroom pink...but then i may be inviting all sorts of trouble when he gets older....sigh....

Arby said...


I need to try this.

Do I get to make a column for the Boss?

Kathleen said...

Arby, You can give the boss as many columns as she pleases!