Problems with getting the kids to do their chores?
Kids taking for granted their privileges?
This was me about a month ago.
We always have had our kids doing chores, but it was a major battle. Especially their toys and bedroom.
I wanted to burn their rooms to the ground and chuck every single stinkin' toy. Because melted plastic is toxic.
I get a newsletter every day with a list of free/discounted ebooks and I found this awesome book that changed my world. I am not exaggerating.
PLAY The Discipline Solution: A New System Motivates Children to Do Chores while Teaching Life Skills & Self Discipline WITHOUT Cash or Spanking (aff)
What it's all about (aka the hokey pokey)
I don't want to give the whole book away so I won't go into a ton of detail here.
- They each have 2 jobs they do every day (their choice) and they will get paid for it.
- Paid with Mom Dollars (we call it Barlow Bucks) that look like real money.
- They are fined for misbehavior.
- They pay for privileges and extras (electronics:phone, tv, computer, video games; friend over; treat; activity; and more).
- If they don't have enough money to cover their fine they are grounded for a certain amount of time per dollar owed.
- There are laws that both children and parents have to follow.
How we introduced it
During our weekly Family Night we sat the kiddos down. They saw all the printed money and papers and could hardly stand to wait for me to show them what the money was all about.
We talked about how laws worked in the real world and the consequences for breaking and obeying those laws. We also talked about the commandments and the consequences for those as well. Then we introduced the program and how it all ran.
It was a lot for them to take in. If I could do it over again I'd talk less about the real world and more about the program. Then talk more about the real world as needed.
The first day (the road to heaven)
They woke up bright and early and got to cleaning right away. They were stoked.
I did have to have them go back and walk them each through their chores. The best part was they were happy with my feedback, rather than the usual whine-fest. They got it done and got paid! Victory!
The hardest part? The fines. Man did they get fined up the wazoo that first day. Fine after fine after fine. They were grounded within an hour.
It was tough on me and tough on them. But I persevered. I felt like a pioneer or a hero or something. I refused to give in to feeling bad about taking their money away. I refused to give in to anger when they threw a huge tantrum because they lost their money.
The next days
They had a rough few days. They did their chores, they got fined, they got grounded. They did more chores and more fines, and more grounding.
Then. The angels sang.
They finally got it. They finally stopped sneaking food ($30 fine), stopped tattling ($6 fine), stopped fighting ($9 fine), stopped wasting food ($3 fine). They were so much happier. I was too.
They were able to buy a can of soda ($6), a treat ($6), video game time ($12), TV time ($12), and just this past weekend go to a movie ($80).
I'll be real - they weren't perfect of course. I can tell you their bad behavior was reduced 90%. 90 freaking awesome percent. That's pretty much as good as 100%.
Pros and Cons
Let me list out the pros and cons of this program for ya.
- Printables all ready made for you
- Learn about $$
- Clean house
- No whining about chores
- No guessing about rules and consequences
- Happier family
- Not clear on some of the rules (ex: grounding rule)
- Tattling issues*
- Some chores not done**
I've got 5 kids. I'm pretty sure I raised them up to be tattlers. I know, whatever. Judge away.
Here's an example. Please tell me when Sweet Cheeks is getting into the bathroom. Please tell me if The Animal isn't doing his chores (pre-P.L.A.Y. program). And on. The tattling took a while for them to understand what it was. However, now I had the problem of not being able to have my kids tell me if someone was doing something wrong.
I had to now figure out who was sneaking the apples and not be told who it was.
I'm telling you, sneaking food has always been a problem. They'll wake up at 3-4 am to go downstairs and get some food. No, we don't starve them. They get 3 meals a day and a snack.
Yes, I am watching my children and interacting with them. When you have 5 you are not able to physically be with all 5 at once at every moment and nor should you.
Before this program we would always have one kid in charge of dishes, one for the laundry, one for the vacuuming. They would all clean the playroom, living room, and bedroom.
Well, now they each pick 2 chores a day and there are quite a bit of chores to choose from. This means that some days I won't have anyone doing the dishes. Or they could have a disaster of a bedroom (every day) and no one wants to do that chore so it just sits there filthy. That is not cool.
Tweaks we made
Angela is all about you customizing to fit P.L.A.Y. to your family. Bless her soul. She's awesome.
- Reduced time on electronics (on the chart it says $12 for 2 hours).
That's just too much to me, so it's now $6/1 hour.
- Only allowed to buy one treat per day (1 soda or 1 treat, not both).
In the future I'll be picking healthier treats and non-food treats as well.
- Have to do something while grounded (extra chores, own chores, school worksheets, reading, etc).
- Do required chores before they can do extra ones.
Since there are so many chores on the list, I want to make sure the basic ones get done before any extra ones that aren't necessary for daily cleaning.
- I pick what those required chores are each day.
They still chose their chores, however, if no one did the dishes yesterday and I need them done, that's a required chore for today that someone has to pick. This ensures that the dishes don't overflow and their room isn't a war zone for the whole week.
I have set times throughout the day for them to do their chores during the school year. Chore #1 is after lunch and Chore #2 is before dinner. We may tweak it to be after breakfast and lunch that way they'll have more time to do extra chores if they want to earn more money.
Chores my kids can do
My 8 and 6.5 year olds can do: dishes, laundry (wash, dry, fold, put away), kitchen, mop, living room, play room, bedroom, clean out fridge, bathrooms, mop, etc.
My 5 year old can do these: laundry (wash, dry, fold, put away), kitchen, mop, living room (including vacuum), play room, bedroom, hallway & stairs, microwave, and bathrooms. We haven't let him do the dishes just yet. Maybe in another few months.
My 2.5 year old: help fold towels and blankets, put them away. Pick up garbage, put away toys, dishes in sink, pillows on couch. I want to start helping and teaching her to put more things away and to do it better, but I've been a little swamped lately and have let it slide.
There are lots of resources for age-appropriate chores your kids can do.
I'm of the mind that your kids can do a whole heck of a lot more than you think they can.
They may do it slower and not just the way you think it ought to be done, but they can do it. You will need to do it with them a few times before they get it and your standards. Do them a favor: have high standards. If there are Cheerios still on the ground after they vacuumed have them do it again. If there are smudges on the bathroom mirror have them do it again.
Make sure you point out what they've done well and then redirect the items that need to be done again. When framed like this my kids are more confident and compliant.
I absolutely love P.L.A.Y.! It has done all the hard work for me by setting up the system and making the printables for me. My whole family is all on the same page. We all know what to expect from each other. There is more follow through because I don't have to make up a consequence each time something happens.
I highly highly highly recommend this to every parent. Even if your kids aren't struggling with chores and privileges. It is so incredibly cheap that it's even more awesome!
What is the biggest battle in your home?
What have you tried?
Have a wonderful day my friends!
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