I don't know how many of you parents out there do chores with your children. I really think my kids have it really easy and need to start learning responsibility. There is my son who is 9, going to be 10 next month and my daughter, a good solid 12. I printed out a chore chart I found online.
It was pretty easy, there was a spot for the chore going across and the day it was to be done on going down. You simply write the chore and put an X on what day you want it done. I did really easy chores. Things that were no fail type stuff, such as picking up all the trash in the front and backyard, vacuuming the living room and hallway. One night a week I have they are to do the dinner dishes. I felt pretty confident that I picked some good chores. I hung a copy of their individual chores in each of the kids' rooms so they could always see it and I printed the "rules" of the chart. The "rules" were broke up into 3 short but thorough sections:
- First stated what time the chores are to be done by and said that in the event they were not home, the chore would be done the following day.
- Then the rewards, which was $5 at the end of the week with no problems and if they did a whole month perfect they got an additional prize which could be something like extra money, pizza party, sleep over, etc. I told them that if they got the end of the month reward, we would set a time to talk about a good reward for them.
- Finally the dreaded punishment, if the chores were not done to the best of their ability or even at all. They lost out on their allowance for the week and for each chore not done a possession or privilege would be taken away for one week. I will give them a coupon with a date, the date is the day they get back their item or privilege back into effect. If they continued each day the same action would happen. Don't feel bad, my kids are very stocked with electronics and gadgets. I could probably go for a month or two and they would still have stuff to amuse them.
To me sounds easy, sounds fair, I had a meeting with the kids went over their chore chart, gave them the list of "rules" for the chart so they could be reminded of the rewards and punishments, and answered questions. Everything went well, I had explained everything and left no room for errors.
The first day, I was really excited, my son took to the chores super easy. His task consisted of going around the house, collecting the garbage cans and dumping them. Super easy task. I was really proud to see my son working and helping me out. I was kinda impressed, he is always the one who doesn't make the best grades in school, he is very high strung with lots of energy. I worried he wouldn't do his job properly...or to put it bluntly...half ass it.
My daughters chores were for that day to do the dinner dishes. Another super easy task since we had pizza and fries. I swear of all nights for her to do dishes she really lucked out because there was literally 4 plates and a few glasses! I was I think overly confident in her ability to do the chart. I knew the chores were very easy and I know she is getting at that age where she wants to shop, buy clothes, so I knew the money incentive would drive her. She is the one who makes pretty good grades, she even talks like a grown up at times using a vocabulary that even some of my friends don't have.
I didn't mention it before but the chores were to be completed by 8. The day when by, we had ate dinner, it was 7:45pm and she comes downstairs and does the dishes. Oh my gosh....it drove me nuts waiting to see if she would complete them. I literally was biting my nails. I want to see my kids do well and be just good people in general, above all. I was shocked that she waited till 15 minutes before to do it. I calmly came into the kitchen while she was washing off the few dishes that she had and told her that she had cut it close and reminded her about the paper of the "rules" and how I would stick to them.
Okay so the first day went as I would say half and half. Son did great, daughter shockingly hung by a thread. I was still hopeful though and proud that they did do their chores and were helping out being a part of the family. For today....LOL (yes I am laugh out loud...this was today). Today son had two chores. One, to clean his room and the second to vacuum the living room and hallway. My daughter had one, to clean her room and two, clean the bathroom, which consisted of Windexing, (yes, Windexing is a word in our house, basically means to clean the window with Windex) the windows, cleaning the toilet, and sweeping the floor. Did I mention our bathroom is not very big. I'm thinking a 12' by 12' room, including the tub. So she comes home and goes upstairs to play on her DS and get on the internet with it. I did not see her till dinner. My son comes straight home does his homework and continues right on his chores. He comes outside and tells me he is done if I can go ahead and check his work. I say okay. Really impressed with his eagerness. This is a new side to my son that I was unaware of, he is really a hard worker and loves the reward system. I'm making a mental note of this...there has to be some way to tie this in to school to bring his grades up. I digress...that's another blog. Around 7:50pm...just 10 minutes before the chores are to be done for the day she comes in my room and starts telling me something. I'm looking at her as if I can mentally put it in her head to run do her chores before she loses something. I told them at the meeting I would not be down their throats reminding them or nagging because they had to learn responsibility. So here I am...staring at her, sending mental messages. Nothing. Obviously, she has some kind of brain blocking mechanism and can't receive mental messages. Darn! Finally I can't hold it anymore, I blurted out that it was 5 minutes till 8 and asked if she had did her chores. I told her that I wasn't going to say anything but really at 5 till there was no way she could get the work done. She told me that she could go do it now. I'm told her, "No, no you can't because that will put you past 8 and the paper says done by 8.
Now for the part I hate and usually bend on...backing up my words, with what Dr. Phil would say, putting verbs in my sentences. I chose her TV and her DS. She took it pretty well and claimed that she didn't care. I was really feeling defeated. I don't even know why. I was really hoping she would do her chores and everything would have a happy ending, nope! So I see her 10 minutes later drifting past me and I see in her hand, her brothers DS and tablet. I ask her what is she doing with her brothers things. She tells me that he told her she could play with them and then proceeds to her room. Really??? I swear, I had thought of everything, or did I? I have to admit, my daughter is a smart one. She really does remind me of myself at her age at times. So she had beat the system. I know my son doesn't even realize what was going on, he is just a good hearted kid. He would give his last dollar just to make someone happy. I think that's one of my favorite and least favorite things about him. I love that he has a heart of gold but hate that he gets used, abused, and mistreated by his friends at times because they take advantage of his gift. He will also do anything for his big sis' really sweet, super annoying if you are a parent trying to teach a life lesson. So I have to be the bad guy, I have to put my foot down, and I have to be a parent. I go in her room and tell her she must return the items to her brother. I tell her while her brothers items were not items I took away, I saw what she was doing and thought that it was undermining what rules I had put in place. She began to cry. Did I see that happening...yep. I will not break. Yes, usually I do cave at this point and say something like, "Well, lets make this a warning and next time.." Yes I do this a lot. I took a deep breath and told her that I have to hold her to the rules because it wasn't fair if I let her slide and hold her brother to higher standard than what I was holding her too. I also told her that her chores was easy and she had to start having responsibilities and helping out, something that other families do, in fact, do. I ended my lecture with telling her that if she does undermine me I have to step in and adjust my rules because a punishment is meant to be a lesson and if she could just get her brothers stuff and play on the exact thing I took away, it really wasn't fair or honest. So do I think that it sunk in and now there will be nothing but rainbows and unicorns? No, I know that she is at an age where her hormones are kicking in and all she really thinks about is herself. I was there once and believe it or not, I do still remember. I sit and look back at who I was then and now and I am kinda amazed at how I have changed. How age has made me wiser. While we are not even a week into this chore chart I'm still hopeful that I can teach responsibility with it and teach them about a family living together helping maintain a house and how it is everyone's job. I'm feeling like Dr. Martian Luther King Jr. standing on his podium delivering the I have a dream speech. Well people..I do have a dream, of my kids being responsible well adjusted adult and looking back and saying...Yep I had a hand in that and be proud to say I'm a parent. But for right now, I will settle with getting them to vacuum a room or pick up trash on the lawn.