My daughter turns nine this month.
I'm trying to say and/or write that as much as possible because just yesterday I was nine. It’s quite impossible that I am now the mother of someone that old.
So I’m here with this nine-year-old little girl. She’s a good one. Always does her homework, respectful, loving, all that.
Except for how she NEVER cleans up after herself.
Toothpaste in the sink. Clothes wherever they fell off her body. Crumbs. Dishes abandoned on the table. Bed unmade.
I talk to her. I tell her that she’s an only child and it’s easy enough for me to clean up after her, but doesn’t she want to learn some life skills? Doesn’t she want to contribute to the family?
She read the Diary of Wimpy Kid series a while ago and begged me to create a system of Mom Bucks. Apparently, the kids in Wimpy Kid earn Mom Bucks for being nice to each other and doing chores. I already give out stamps for things like unsolicited help, A+ papers, and quality piano lessons. A full stamp chart (56 stamps) earns a pick from the super exciting prize jar. She could score anything from $1 to an epic Mommy & Me day from that jar. She wants Mom Bucks too?
Yes. Yes she does.
Well, I stuck to my principles on this one. There is one kid and one reward system. Period.
With my principles entact, I engaged in a lot of begging and yelling. Pick up your clothes. Do you see how Daddy and I take our plates to the dishwasher? That sort of thing.
Eventually, tired of the chaos, I caved. I printed a page of these Chore Bucks and made a list of chores that needed to be done every single day.
1. Make bed
2. Put clothes away or down the laundry chute
3. Clear dishes after each meal
Each month, I put a Chore Buck for each day in a little box on my daughter's dresser plus an extra bonus buck. (March gets 32 bucks.) If she does her three tasks, she keeps the buck. If she earns the buck every day for a month she also gets to keep the bonus buck. At the end of the month the bucks are redeemable for real money (10 Chore Bucks = 1 Real Buck) and prizes like choosing the family activity for one Chore Buck or a bubble gum machine prize for two Chore Bucks.
January and February were not perfect months. I took about three Chore Bucks each of the first two months. But a lot of days I didn't have to take any. And some days I didn't even remind her to do her three "chores."
Life is better with the Chore Bucks. Do I worry that she'll always need an incentive to do any little task? Of course I do. But this is better than picking up after her and I do think these "chores" are becoming habits. And really, that's all I want. Habits. Preferably good ones.
Image Credit: Joey Lynn Resciniti
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