“Did you feed your fish? Get dressed. You need to make your bed. Today is laundry day, so please bring your baskets down. What do you want for breakfast? What do you want for breakfast? If you don’t tell me what you want for breakfast, I’m going to pick something for you. Please put your dishes away. Did you brush your teeth yet? GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH! Time to get your shoes on. Get your coat on. Get your coat on. GET YOUR COAT ON! Where’s your backpack?”
This is how my mornings usually seem to play out. A tired mom trying to rush her children through their morning routine by giving command after command and repeating phrases over and over. Sadly, I end up doing more things for my children than I should because I know we’ll miss the bus if I don’t make their beds or set out their clothes or put the toothpaste on their toothbrushes. Well, those days are over…(hopefully).
I am determined to make my children more accountable for getting themselves ready in the morning and for helping around the house! Doing everything for myself, a baby, and two capable children is exhausting & to be honest, isn't helping grow them into responsible adults. In the past, chore charts didn't work for us. My kids are beyond doing things for stickers or check marks. Paying them proved unsuccessful, since we never seemed to have cash, and lets face it, we are letting them live here for free, they need to earn their keep!
Then, one night, a light bulb came on! What if I turn the chores into a game, Chutes & Ladders style? For the next week or so, I thought about how the game would work. My plan was to come up with a list of chores, assign points to them, & create a game board to set my plan in motion. Here is how it turned out:
Yes, I gave it a title & a tagline! (Chores Galore: Clean Your Way to the Finish Line) Pretty sure my husband is still laughing in his head at me!
After coming up with a list of chores & points, I created a table with pictures, words, & the points for each chore.
For the mandatory chores, they either get points for doing the work, or lose points if they forget to do their chore or if they have to be reminded. Making the bed is mandatory, so if the kids do it, they can move their “vacuum” up two places, however, if they forget or have to be reminded, they have to go back two places. I like the visual aspect that they can see if they are progressing well or not.
Some of the chores are bonuses. For example, setting the table is not a mandatory chore, so the kids will not lose points if they don’t do it. However, if they choose to set the table, they can move ahead more spaces. Hopefully, we will get to the point where the kids notice what needs to be done around the house & take responsibility by doing it themselves.
After assigning chores & points, I made a game board using poster board & scrap paper.
The object of the game is to be the first one to move your game piece (vacuum) all the way to the finish line by earning chore points, or as the tagline says, “Clean your way to the finish line”! (The game pieces adhere to the board with sticky tack.)
Clipped to the back of the game board, near the finish line, is an envelope containing the prize. The winner will get to open the envelope & find out what the prize is (that way I don’t have to worry about the kids not working because they don’t like that particular prize). The prize will be different each time. It might be money, getting to go someplace, dinner of their choice, getting to have a friend sleep over, or something else. Hopefully, we won’t have a problem doling out the prize (like we did paying the kids after doing their chores) since the prize gets put in the envelope at the start of the game & we are not limiting ourselves to a set prize or money amount.
Yesterday afternoon, I hung the game board & point sheet in the toy closet between the kids’ rooms. I also placed another point sheet on the pantry door, as a reminder of the system. Then, before the kids went to bed last night, I explained how to play the game. I went through the list of chores & explained my expectations of how each chore needed to be done in order to receive points. For instance, when the kids brush their teeth, they also need to rinse their toothbrush and the sink, wipe the counter, & put their toothbrush away. Points are earned for doing chores correctly and deducted if the kids forget a chore or have to be reminded. Since this is our first week, I anticipate that I will have to remind them of my expectations & how to properly do each task. I will probably be a little more lenient with chores this week as we ease our way into this new system.
So, how did the first morning go?
When I came out of my room this morning, both of my children had made their beds, gotten dressed, fed their pets, tidied their rooms, & had their laundry baskets waiting in the hallway to take downstairs…all without me having to say a word! Obviously, they are excited about this new system! I think it helps that they never really know what the prize will be until they finish the game & get to open the envelope.
Now, I know this system isn’t perfect & will need to be tweaked. But, I also know that it will probably continue to work for us as long as we are disciplined enough to keep it up. I think with the other chore charts, our kids lost their enthusiasm for working because we kept falling short on our end. Hopefully, turning our chore chart into a game will make it easier to keep track of & follow through.
Wish us luck!
(P.S. I’ve already thought of four other tasks I want to add… 1. Bring in trash & other items you brought into the van +/- 2 pts., 2. Miss the bus –5 pts., 3. Forget to wash off after meals –3 pts., 4. Get caught eating in the family room –5 pts. I realize these aren’t all tasks, but a few behaviors that are either a result of not being efficient or cause me more work, like having to wash the couch covers when the kids eat in the family room!)
Also, if you are concerned about me letting my 6 & 9 year old watch the baby, don’t worry! I would never leave any of my children home alone, they are much too young! Sometimes I do ask them to keep an eye on her (while she is gated) so I can run to the mailbox or up the stairs. (If they do, they’ll get two points for it!)