Another Challenge

In a way, this blog serves as a kind of journal for me. Nothing really intimate or private, obviously, but more an overview of whatever seems to be happening in our house at the moment. What’s going on here right now is me trying to correct some insidious behaviors that I have overlooked for way too long.

I wrote last week about decluttering and getting organized. That’s still a work in progress. Letting clutter build up is a bad habit of mine.

But, then, so is letting the kids off the hook. It’s sometimes easier to just do the jobs myself (all of you Moms out there know exactly what I am talking about) and skip nagging the girls to do their chores. Captain Chaos is still a little young, although he does help me pick up his toys (sometimes) and he loves to unload the silverware from the dishwasher (clean or dirty!). But the girls! Oy.

It starts with me asking them to do something – anything. It gets met with attitude and/or complaining. Then there’s foot dragging to the area of the job followed by whining and complaining while the job gets done halfway. Then Mommy loses it. Then there’s tears and blaming the other sister and finally getting the job done 3/4 of the way at which point Mommy throws her hands up and huffs off and the girls collapse in front of the TV or toys and destroy the room in 27.3 seconds.

Not a good routine. It’s a rut really. And it stinks.

Enter Party Boy and his infinite wisdom. Something he said about managing people (which is what he does for a living) echoed around in my head last week until I figured out how to make it work in our house.

“Lead with a carrot, not with a stick.”

See I have tried this. It feels like bribery in many ways. And it did nothing to curb the whining which just kills me! The problem is/was that there was no consistency in the reward. There was no way for me to reward them like they want to be rewarded on a daily basis – they want tangible rewards like little toys and ice cream – I want to reward with TV time and an extra 30 minutes before bed. My attempts at rewarding them were simply not their currency. On the other hand, their currency could quickly bankrupt us and bury the house in clutter!

And then I found this new site (new to me anyway!) called Goal For It. It’s like social networking for goal setting and I suppose that some people do use it as such. I use it for the chore charts! I was able to set each girl up with a chore chart that has pictures of the job. Not so amazing, I know. The cool part? At the end of the day we can put a virtual sticker on each job they completed. Each job is assigned a cash value. They have a virtual piggy bank and can save their chore bucks up for real life prizes that they can buy! We pick the prizes and set the monetary value. Our vary from a candy bar for 15 bucks (one day of completing everything) to getting a new game for Wii or DS for 2500 bucks.

I like this for two reasons:

1. It’s like they get paid for doing their job(s). They can choose how much effort to put into it. Hollywood is really bad about coat-tail riding MOTS on joint chores. She can’t do that anymore. Everyone get evaluated separately here and has to earn their own way.

2. They’re gonna have to budget. Sure you can blow your money a bit at a time on ice cream and candy bars. Or you can save up for that new Webkinz… It’s all about decisions, just like “real” life.

My hope is that we will see an attitude shift as they start to get tangible rewards for completing their work and also that having a printed list will help to remind me of exactly what they need to do every day.

We start today. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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