Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Chores Experiment

So, I went into this summer with this idea that if the kids were super busy every day they wouldn't have as much time to fight with eachother or whine about bordeom. Plus, I really don't like the TV/Computer and I could just see them spending the whole summer on one or the other. So I came up with a chore list that requires up to 5 hours/day of work! That's right...5 hours, and no it's not child abuse.

Isabelle and Jack rotated by week with Kitchen, Laundry, and Bathroom duty (Christopher and I did the third). And that includes, mopping the floor on their hands and knees, scrubbing behind the toilet, folding/putting away laundry, switching loads, and starting new ones, cleaning all the dishes after every meal even if it meant they were up till 11pm. Lots of work, plus they each had four other DAILY chores, piano practice, read a chapter book, bedrooms, and lawn/garden chores. The point was to keep them busy, and it worked. However, it also kept me really busy because they are unable to accomplish all of these alone and needed adult assistance, so I had to do all the chores every day at a brutally slow rate (I could've accomplished all of it in 1 hr/day, instead I was doing 8 hours or more helping out all 3 kids). Over all however I think it has worked wonderfully. And lest you think I'm putting the kids to work as slaves, I should mention that they were being paid in Monopoly dollars.

$50 for a good week without too much complaining, $10 for a bad week. And $5 for extra chores (taking out the trash, cleaning the toy room, etc), $2 for helping with meals, $2 for exercising (basketball games, tennis practice, yoga at the Y), and many other ways to earn extra cash. There was however also a list of ways they could loose money. $5 for fighting, $5 for property damage, $2 for whining, $2 for sassiness, etc.

You may be asking yourself, what good is Monopoly money, how does that motivate hard work? There was a third list! One that allowed them to 'spend' their money. $100 bought them a $5 toy at Toys R US, $75 bought them an ice cream date with Mom or Dad, $50 bought them some candy from my secret stash (a combination of candy confiscated after parties and other events and candy that I've gotten doing couponing), $25 got them a $2 book at Half Price Books (my favorite book store). So as summer has gone on, has my system worked? Surprisingly well!

The kids love to spend their money, so the cheapest thing, is the thing I'm happiest to spend my cash on BOOKS! And the thing they want most, requires saving up. Yesterday each of the ninos had enough cash saved to buy both a toy and a book so I decided to brave the stores with all 4 of them (I have an 1 year old that I watch every day and Christopher was taking his GRE). First we hit up Toys R US, it was the best trip to that store I've ever had. Because it was 'their' money they were so careful in choosing just the right thing, they each took a turn and we walked through the aisles until they found just the thing they most wanted. They helped eachother choose by offering opinions like "well, I think you should choose the blue, because I know that's your favorite color." No one begged for anything that was beyond their $5 and everyone came out happy! We ended up with a Zooble for Isabelle, a small doll with three changes of clothes for Eva, and a set of 5 Hot Wheels muscle cars for Jack. It was lovely. On the way out the door I thanked them for being so good in the store and Eva said "That's the most wonderful store, I really love it."

Then we were off to Half Price Books. We had an equally good experience, except that Zoe was ready for a nap and needed a diaper change and therefore, royally cranky. Jack picked up a Magic Tree House for his collection, he's got about 20, Eva bought a cute book called Princesses Are Not Quitters (really cute story about working hard, love it) and Belle bought a Jewel Kingdom book, she's working on the whole collection.

In the end, the kids have been able to spend their money on things they've wanted throughout the summer, they love books, they only buy small inexpensive toys, they're learning the value of hard work, and they don't have time to fight with eachother. Best summer ever!!! What a way to beat the 100+ degree temperatures we've been enduring for the last 33 days.