We have established a new chore system inspired by my good friend, Sherry. It’s brilliant. Work is completely voluntary and the payment is in poker chips which can be exchanged for money or screen time. There is immediate feedback as well as positive peer pressure. Since it is voluntary there is no coercion and since any computer, video or T.V. viewing depends on it, there is motivation. One of my favorite aspects is that the kids can earn one chip a day just for keeping their rooms clean. How brilliant that they are learning that a little work, every single day, pays off royally.
Christopher is living paycheck to paycheck, but his room is neater than it has been in years with nary a nagging from me nor a bit of help. Lydia’s room is always clean and now she is reaping the reward for that as well as her innate industry. Most wonderful of all is that I am getting my house cleaned as my kids are developing a good work ethic. The big kids have lots of options but it’s been a little harder finding jobs for Eden. There are a couple that we reserve for her like picking up all of Jack’s toys at night and using the hand vacuum on the floors, but that’s about it. Because of this, and frankly for my own sake, I’m not holding her to the limitations on screen time. The other day I was exhausted and allowed her to watch a couple videos. Again, there’s a payoff: normally the big kids would be fussing about her selections, but this time they were just thrilled that the viewing was free.
Despite her exemption from the general system, Eden is throwing herself right into it. Last night I noticed her hustling off with the Swiffer but didn’t really think about it. Later I heard her banging around near her bedroom and ignored that as well. It was only when I heard a gush of water hitting a floor that I paid attention. She was in the half bath with the door shut. I opened it and quickly took in the sight of her shoving the Swiffer around – just the rubber, no pad – the floor swimming in puddles of water, dust and Jack’s fur. Oh the humanity!
“I’m cleaning the bathroom,” she announced with pride, “to earn a chip!”
“Honey, you need to check with me before you start a job.”
“But I wanted to SURPRISE you!”
I sighed. What do you say to that? I grabbed a towel and told her to dry the floor. As she lay down in a puddle to reach, I shuddered and checked out the rest of her work. The sink looked very clean and tidy. Her toothbrush and paste were carefully set on one side and on the other she had neatly arranged a bar of hand soap and some flossers on a floral plate. Soon the towel and the mopper were sopping. As I delivered it to the laundry room, Eden stretched out on my bed for a rest and soaked it down to the mattress.
Not so cheerfully, I shooed her off to get fresh pajamas then fetched fresh sheets and the hair dryer.