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Family Work: Revised

I mentioned in my last family work post that I don't like giving rewards for desired behaviors.  It is a short sighted system that, while it may work in the immediate future, does not affect long term behavior.  But I don't always listen to my own advice.

Our system worked at least in as far as we followed through with it.  But after the first week the kids lost motivation to do their chores.  Further, I started to reflect on what I had read in Frantically Simple's family work posts on principles and vision (the series continues here).  I needed to think more about my vision for my family.

I also needed to think more about the things that generally, work related or not, are not working for us right now.  We have no structure.  We have no routine.  This summer I have been so busy with the gardens and the chickens that those things have gone out the door.  We get up when we get up.  We go to bed when we get around to it.  Sometimes nap happens, sometimes it doesn't.  There have been a few days when we forgot to eat lunch- no, I'm not neglecting my kids- I forgot to eat, and they snacked all day, so no one thought about lunch.  However, children, particularly preschoolers and toddlers, thrive on routines because knowing what happens next makes them feel like they are in control.  And frankly, I think that most moms thrive on routines, too, because a routine makes you feel productive.  And the more I thought about this, the more that I realized that I had to change what I did (sounds a lot like what she says at Frantically Simple in one of her family work posts, but apparently I had to come around to in myself...).

I still want my kids to learn to appreciate work, both because it increases one's sense of self worth and because it makes them feel like an important part of the family.  So I decided to remove the incentives I was using.  And the kids didn't care, because the incentives no longer meant anything to them.  The kids will still, however, get something in return for doing their chores... which leads me to another thing that I wanted to change.

We all spend too much time either watching TV or in front of the computer.  We're not couch potatoes by any means- I wouldn't have been able to accomplish what I have this summer if I were, and my kids were right there for most of it.  But still, it's a habit that has been bugging me for a while, and I have wanted to change it.  I don't think TV is evil.  But I don't think it's good, either.  We could definitely live without it, and have at several times during our marriage.  But when we moved to Minnesota we realized that we would be spending a good portion of 6 months of the year (give or take) inside, and that, while there are lots of things to do, having TV would be nice.  But it has gotten out of hand.  I don't know if I imagine it or it it is real, but I notice a huge difference in my kids' behavior when they spend much time in front of the screen- they get brattier, whinier, and more exasperating when they watch too much TV.  And my frustration level skyrockets.

Our new and improved chore chart and our routine.
So they will earn their screen privileges.  I completely changed the chore list to reflect things that they HAVE to do each day, and for each chore they earn 10 minutes of screen time.... BUT they can't use it until that portion of the day's chores have been done.  So, for example, they we can't watch any TV or use the computer in the morning until they've we've fed our animals- Izzy the cats, Oliver the dog, and me the chickens.  Then we must eat breakfast, followed by the kids doing the dishes while I start a load of laundry and fold a load of laundry.  Then we can have free time.  They are a little hard to read in this picture, but here are our routines:
Our new routines, inspired by flylady.
 And as you may have noticed in the first picture, I have a "kid friendly" version of their routine posted on the side of the fridge with their chore chart.  The #1 reason I made this version was because the "can I have a snack?" question is about two seconds from sending me to the loony bin.  No, my kids can't read yet, but that's why it's color coded... and why snack is in pink, Izzy's favorite color.  And she can read a clock... kind of.  Well enough to compare the picture of the clock to the actual clock to see if it's snack time.  But this is also a visual reminder for me, as it's the first thing I see when I come downstairs in the morning.

Our routines and chore lists... still a work in progress!
 And it will probably continue to change as we work out the kinks.  I've based much of this system on Flylady, and if you really feel like your home is out of control I would strongly recommend you check her out.  And I borrowed the screen time as incentive idea from Kitchen Stewardship's post on school lunches.

1 comment:

simply heidi said...

Brandi, this is great! Way to go!
By the way, I don't think it's in you imagination - Newt is always cranky after too much tv. I think it makes her forget for a bit how to entertain/help herself. It puts her in a do-it-for-me mood for sure.
Thanks for linking up!

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