Monday, March 17, 2008

And You Think I'm Nuts To Have Four Kids!

Those of you who know us may know about our chore check system....basically it was a way for the girls to earn their own money from doing household chores, and we would keep track of the money earned on checks rather than hand them cash. Too much money had disappeared around the house--kids sticking coins here and there or dollar bills in a book or at the back of a drawer. Using checks, if they lost their money, it was their concern but didn't matter to me! It worked well; each girl had three chores a day that were non-negotiable, and then about eight more that she could do if she wanted to earn money. They usually saved up chore checks and then had me take them to Target to buy something they wanted.

However, we had to revamp the system. For the past few months, there have been no chore checks paid out because it was just getting to be too much. Every week they had to be tallied, checks written, new charts filled in and hung up--enough of a pain, but now that Ben and Emma are into chores and money, just about impossible! Even finding four places to hang charts is too much, given that we have so much art work hung up. So the kids were doing chores as they were asked, but we weren't giving them chore checks. Rachel and Julia had so many saved up that they didn't care, but after thinking about it a bit, I decided that I really need and want them all doing chores. And a system where they get paid and rewarded just makes it easier to get them to do them. So I came up with a new system.

The best thing is, now that I've made it up, there's no more charts to fill out. I made four charts on different colored paper--purple, yellow, orange and cream. This way each child gets different chores every week, so boredom isn't as big of a problem. I made 4 boxes on each paper, labeling them with the kids' names. Every kid has make your bed and clean up your room, every week. That's non-negotiable. And the older girls both have guinea pig cage on every chart too--I have decreed that I am through cleaning rodent cages. Emma has two other chores (I have to give her the easiest things, such as feeding the animals dry food in the morning, emptying waste baskets, etc.), Ben has three other chores, and the big girls each have nine chores all together. These are not necessarily things that have to be done every day--for instance, we have fill bird feeders, dust one floor of the house, vacuum upstairs (we don't use Roomba up there because of all the stuff everywhere--too hard to get all tiny things out of its way) etc. So some may be daily, some may be as needed.

Every week, assuming they do the chores and do them without an attitude (I am keeping a small list for notes, because it's too hard to remember a whole week of four kids!) the girls will get $5 and Ben and Emma will get $2 added to an Excel spreadsheet, like a bank account. Then there's no paper to be lost, and we automatically know how much they have, without finding checks or adding up.

So far it has been beautiful. Everyone is doing their chores with just some reminders. And there is much less work for me and Matt to do. Shopping, cooking and dishes alone take up far too much time, so having everyone pitch in is essential. And they like to be helpful, and it keeps me less stressed, so it's good for everyone.


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