“Make it fun for them”, they said.
“Make it age appropriate”, they said.
“Make a cute chart for them to follow”, they said.
“Pay them for doing the work”, they said.
“Shut up”, I say to them, because I have tried all of what “they” said and it didn’t work.
C’mon, you’ve seen all of the pretty Pinterest tutorials on how to make a chore chart with age appropriate chores, giving a sticker for each chore completed. Just go to Pinterest and search for “chore charts” and see what you get.
The cute magnets with dollar amounts on them, indicating the dollar amount for each chore completed.
I’m over it.
Tired of being nice.
I believe the niceness threshold changes once your kid becomes a big kid.
My niceness is what prompted me to try and follow one of those Pinterest tutorials, that resulted in an epic Pinterest fail. Seemed like a good idea at the time, simple even. Usually, I am all for pretty and fluff but these kids have burned me multiple times. Here’s our relationship with chores:
Me: Please make sure the kitchen is cleaned after dinner.
Next morning, dishes that were in sink were “washed” but there are still plates, glasses, silverware on the countertops and table. The previous night’s pots are still on the stove. When walking into the kitchen, crumbs and all sorts of stuff is all over the floor.
With the boy, my oldest, now in college 5 hours away, I figured it was time to usher in a new regime.
Something fresh that would knock the socks off the girl that has the pleasure to be left at home with me.
I searched Pinterest again because I knew that I couldn’t be the only mom of a tween that couldn’t get the kid to do the chores. And I knew that I wasn’t the only mom of a tween who was ready to cut through the BS and get my point across that chores will be done by a tween.
Kelly Whalen, over at The Centsible Life, knew exactly where I was coming from. Kelly’s chore cards erased any questions of what needs to be done. She says “with chore cards, I’m able to more accurately convey my expectations.”
So many times, my kids would neglect to do certain tasks in certain rooms. For instance, clean the toilet but leave the towels and dirty clothes in the bathroom. Huh?
Feeling encouraged, I kept Pinteresting and found Susan over at Organized 31. Susan is for real, she has that “ain’t nobody got time for that” mentality. Susan hand wrote her chore cards because she didn’t want her kids to disregard the cards as being for “little kids”.
For me, leaving out the stickers and cuteness meant that I am for real, all joking aside, go clean up.
As for me and my house, I knew I had to entice my daughter somehow, get her to want to do these chores.
Easy, what’s one thing that she loves? TV. Disney. Nickelodeon. Netflix. That’s right, hit her where it hurts.
Truth be told, I was already looking for ways to cut down on her TV watching. Why not kill two birds with one stone?
The end result? My chore cards, here’s a sample:
See, nothing fancy. My tween takes a card, notice some are daily, some are weekly. She picked Tuesdays as her day to clean her bathroom and do her laundry. The big tasks, like cleaning the kitchen are worth 30 minutes of TV time. Smaller, quicker tasks, such as tidying up the living room are worth 15 minutes of TV time. Big tasks cannot be combined, meaning you ain’t getting 60 minutes of TV time.
I also added two additional cards for things that just need to be done without any type incentive tied to it. I want her to prepare for the next day and respect other people’s things:
Now, I knew we needed a buffer, a filler, things to do instead of watching TV. If we didn’t have this, I would constantly hear “What can I do now?” Uuggghhh.
On Pinterest, if you search for “bored jar” you get a pretty cool amount of lists of activities for kids to do. Just make sure that they are things that don’t cost much and that you don’t mind helping with from time to time. Part of my objective here was to help her learn to entertain herself, to stop using me and the Hubs as her show monkeys. We enjoy doing things with her but she needs to do this for herself at times. Yes, I know this will probably change in a few years.
I picked a few activities, such as doing crossword puzzles, writing a story, jumping rope, 20 minutes video game time, and wrote these on popsickle sticks (ok, so I am a sucker for pretty and fluff!). I placed these in a jar labeled “things I can do instead of watching tv”.
Honestly, we are still getting used to this part.
Of course, this system will have to be tweaked the older she gets. I neglected to do this sort of thing when my son was her age and I can see the difference it would have made with him. He has learned though, especially with living away from home this past year.
Most tweens have at least one thing they enjoy and don’t want to lose. Be it money, cell phone, tablets, TV, whatever. Use that “thing” as bait or the precious (yep, Lord of the Rings reference there). Give them something to work towards.
Turns out my tween wasn’t the only one who would be working.
In order for this new chore regime to work, I knew that I needed to do some work as well. That work is being more consistent. Part of my Type A personality causes me to overthink. So much that I can be inconsistent because I am still thinking about being consistent. I know, it’s exasperating.
Consistency has always been a struggle for me. Child behavior help site Empowering Parents teaches that “choosing expediency over consistency has an effect on your child’s behavior and character”. And that’s just it. Many times, I would go ahead and clean the kitchen because I could do it faster. Not realizing that, as my child goes and plops in front of the TV, I am doing her an injustice. By me doing that, I am saying to her “the world will do the work for you, all you have to do is just show up”.
Don’t we have enough of that in the world already?
As I am typing this post, we are in the second week of the “system”. Tonight was open house at school, which means we arrived home later than usual. Does that mean no chores?
Stuff still has to get done.
So, to the laundry room we go because it’s Tuesday, the day she picked for laundry. Sure, she cried cause she didn’t want to fold or hang her clothes. Sure, I almost stopped her and said “I’ll do it”. She kept crying and I went on to do something else.
“Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”, the Bible says.
And I say, Amen.