Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Making allowances

I deluded myself that this date was coming anytime soon. I bragged on Facebook that *my* son hadn’t asked for allowance yet.

I should really learn that this type of thing never results in anything good and only ensures that my days are numbered.

Last night as he was getting ready for bed Leif said he wanted to earn some money.

“Maybe,” he suggested, “we could make a chart of things I can do and when I do them, I can earn money?”

See sticker charts and the like have never gone over well in our house. When Leif was little we tried sticker charts for behavior. He just didn’t get them. He didn’t want to put a beloved sticker on a piece of paper, nor by any means, in a box! My friends reminded me, “well it doesn’t *have* to go in the box… you could just count stickers”.

Nope, didn’t work. He didn’t want to put the sticker not only in the box, but on a random piece of paper. He would rather hoard it somewhere unknown, for some future use. (I get it, I have this problem too, it is why my Halloween candy used to go uneaten, why I have bars of great smelling soaps in my linen closet… I save things.)

Then Skadi came along and we decided to try the sticker charts again.

It went moderately better with Skadi, but the biggest issue became that I sucked at making sticker charts. I didn’t have time to sit there with a piece of pretty paper and a ruler. Fine, I resorted to Excel. I printed up a few, but then would get busy and forget to print up more. And invariably the titles of tasks changed. And she couldn’t read anyways. I sucked.

We ended up with a piece of paper covered with stickers – every inch, of that piece of paper covered with stickers.

Finally I read a post from a friend on Facebook that talked about using marbles and jars. The kids earn marbles for random things. If I see a good act of kindness from one of them I often announce, “very nice, you may go get a marble for your jar”. If they are fighting and generally being mean I threaten to remove a marble, and then very often, I actually do remove a marble and then live with the crying and screaming and flailing that happens after a marble loss.

And funny thing – this has been ongoing for months now. Leif is saving his marbles for a trip to Chuckee Cheese. (Oh joy.) Skadi hasn’t really honed in on anything. Collecting the marbles is enough for her at this point.

So when Leif suggested we do a chart, I balked a little. I am organized at work and love my charts and lists. At home? My organization sucks. Why would I come home and make charts when I do them at work all the time?

I pulled AB into Leif’s bedroom and we all agreed that we don’t pay for things that he needs to do on a regular basis. Clearing his plate, brushing his teeth, doing our Wednesday night pick up? Those things don’t get marbles and we won’t pay for them either.

Now things like cleaning the cat box? Folding his clothes? Taking out the trash (I think he is getting big enough to flip open the dumpster lid and throw the bag in…)? Sure thing. We will pay for those.

Or that is the plan.

I found a quick template in Excel for a chore chart and modified it for our purposes and printed it up.

Nope, I don’t have high hopes.

But I, for now, have one motivated to earn money little boy.

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