Friday, March 9, 2012

I wish we would've figured this out earlier!

     About three years ago, I was visiting family in Alabama. My sister-in-law and I had a chance to be alone in the car together, and our conversation was centered around how difficult it was for me to keep a clean house. She consoled me by explaining that it took her about five years of marriage to really get the hang of cleaning.

     I’ve held on to those words for nearly three years, but I am constantly feeling overwhelmed by the state of our house. Recently I told my husband, “Rachel said five years, but I’m not getting any better!” It’s the one thing that I truly feel like a complete and utter failure. So my loving and supportive husband and I sat down and made a list of the things that make our house the most disorderly.

     And then we did this amazing thing. We took that list, and created a list of daily chores for our kids to do. Then we created a whole family home evening and presented it to our kids. The list is this:


1. Make your bed

2. Hang up coats

3. Shoes on shoe rack

4. trash pick up (we put the garbage can in the center of the living room and they pick up anything that is trash and throw it away)

5. put coloring books and pencils in basket

6. Toys put in room

7. Dishes in the sink

8. dirty clothes in laundry basket

9. game remotes in t.v. basket

10. 5 minute bedtime pick up

      So, here is how the family home evening went down. We gave each one of them a baby food jar and let them paint them. Then we explained the rules- as part of our new and improved bedtime routine, we would pull out the list and go through it, and give the kids one more time to complete their chores. If the list is completed, they get a penny. If they did something extra special or extra nice, or they helped mommy with her chores, they get a bonus penny. When they get ten pennies they can choose a prize at the Dollar Tree ( An exciting reward for youngsters!) Here’s the kicker, when they get ten pennies, we put a sticker on the calendar, and when there are four stickers (which usually happens once a month), they have earned a big prize! This means something done as a family. For us, Grayson really wants to do this rocket ball game where you get these air guns that shoot big nerf balls at people. That will be their big prize this month.

    We’ve been doing this for almost two months and it has been AMAZING!!!! SUCH A DIFFERENCE!!!!! Instead of focusing on the cluttery mess the kids make, I just focus on the big stuff: dishes, laundry, dusting, etc. because I know at the end of the day, they will pick it all up, and the house will be clean in the morning! Of course some of it is to little kid standards, like bed-making, but I try to overlook that fact.

     I have felt so much happier with life since we started this. And our kids looooove to sit down and count their pennies every night and figure out how many they have left to get to ten. I know some people are against giving rewards as reinforcement for chores, but I don’t care what they think. If I got prizes for cleaning, I’d do better too!

So there you have it. Rachel… it’s five years (and 6 months) into our marriage, and I may have figured it out.