Friday, July 12, 2013

Building Character Through Chores

I have a confession to make:

I am an advocate for child labor.
In fact the reason I keep having kids is to staff my own little sweat shop.

I work my kids to the bone:  
they have to do things like 
make their beds
put away their own clean clothes
even unload the dishwasher occasionally.

Me = slave driver.
At least that is the impression my kids give when they fall down on the floor and writhe in agony over the prospect of putting that toy away.

As entertaining as the floor writhing is for me, it wastes valuable time that I could be cracking the whip.  So, I purchased the Accountable Kids program, convinced my husband that it was okay to drill a few extra holes in the wall for the charts and after a brief but painful training period my minions have been properly brainwashed and now perform all of those distasteful tasks without even being told.

Most of the time.

We have been trucking along with Accountable Kids for so long that when we came to New Hampshire with no real chore system in place, my eyes were opened to some personality quirks I had not previously  been aware of.

Take Emma Jane.  
She is my most helpful child.  
If I ever have an extra chore that I need help with, she is the one I usually turn to because she tends to keep the writhing to a minimum.  
I have always assumed that that desire to help with household chores stemmed from a natural cleanliness.

Libby on the other hand, when faced with any task that is not part of her usual routine, usually responds with lots of eye rolling and huffing and puffing.  

When we arrived in New Hampshire, Libby begged for her own room.  She has been sharing a room with Emma Jane practically her whole life and since John and EJ seemed happy to share a room for the summer, we let Libby have the room to herself this summer.  

The reason Libby longed for her own space quickly became apparent:

Emma Jane is a complete and total slob!
That child has not made her bed one time in six weeks!  
The only thing that has kept any thing that falls under Emma Jane's personal jurisdiction presentable in the last three years is the chore chart!  
Thank goodness she has a strong sense of responsibility to counteract her complete disregard for order and hygiene!

Whereas, Libby is so neat and clean that it almost borders on OCD. 
 She lives by the adage "a place for everything and everything in its place."  
She also lives by the adage "every man for himself."

We needed a system in place to foster both cleanliness in Emma Jane and graciousness in Libby.

Enter the Jewel Jar.
I wish I could take credit for this idea, but it was my sister's.

The jewel jar is simple.  
Each child has a mason jar and a bag of colored jewels.  They earn jewels for doing chores and being helpful and also for having good attitudes, showing kindness to others, sharing, etc.
I'm loving this system because it kills two birds with one stone.

When the jars are full the kids will get to trade in their full jars for a new lego set. 
 All of my kids love legos and if you also have a lego-obsessed child, you know just how stinking expensive those things are!  New lego sets don't come around often, so this is high motivation for my children.  
They are actually seeking out and creating opportunities to be kind and loving to one another and extra helpful around the house.  

Emma Jane has even cleaned her room a few times! 
 Without being asked!!

I think this is an idea that is going to follow us home to Tampa.

Hearts for Home Blog Hop


Arnebya said...

Man, this has me cracking up! My Zoe is an Emma Jane. Need help with the dishes? Ask Zoe; she says yes! Need help folding/sweeping/putting things away? Zoe's your girl (because the older girl will roll her eyes, probably call me all sorts of bit...names under her breath, and the boy just throws stuff from one place to the next) = Zoe to the rescue.

Oh. But. Wait. Zoe's bed is not made and Zoe took off her pants, underwear still in them, and left them in the middle of the bedroom floor. Zoe has (cringe) food wrappers in her closet and candy wrappers (WHERE ARE YOU GETTING THE CANDY?) in her pockets, sunflower seeds and popcorn in the bathroom trash can (all food goes in the kitchen trash; this is not hard!)

So. Maybe I need some kind of system for personal accountability outside of household chores. Because slob, thy name is Zoe. (The kids are each responsible, on varying days, for various chores, most of which go either undone or are done by me once it reaches WE'RE ALL TOO NASTY status). Shoot, maybe I need a jewel jar for my damn self.

Emily said...

Libby is seriously a girl after my own heart! And Melody and EJ could be slobs together.
Love the jewel jar. That might actually be the one thing that will help keep Melody's crap, err, treasures to a minimum. You know what a sucker she is for anything shiney...