If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve been seeing me post some sneak peeks of this system but today I’m revealing the whole thing! It’s not that our kids haven’t been expected to do anything but with having 3 kids in 3 ½ years, my main goal up until recently was keeping everyone alive and fed without losing my mind. Getting dressed was often optional. So while there have been daily things the kids know are expected of them (most of the things on the Daily Chores list), until now, we’ve never had a formal system. But I am running myself ragged trying to do everything on my own and the kids are getting to the ages (2 ½, 4 ½ and about to turn 6) where they see commercials and want a lot of things. Since it turns out that, just like my parents said, money really doesn’t grow on trees, they’re going to have to earn them.
If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. -A. Van Buren
CHORE & BEHAVIOR SYSTEM BASICS:
- The main family rules I “borrowed” from my son’s Kindergarten classroom: Respect, Responsibility, and Right Choices. Not only are they basic and simple, they pretty much cover all the bases of “being a good person” and I like the connection between school and home.
- Behavior sticks are stop light colors. Failure to follow the basic rules (Respect, Responsibility, Right Choices) will result in loss of sticks. If you lose all your sticks in one day, you have to pay Mom and Dad a ticket(s). The kids will be able to earn sticks back by doing extra chores in lieu of earning tickets. We will probably only use the behavior sticks while the kids are young, but right now they seem to work really well for us.
- Daily Chores are things they have to do just because they are a part of the family and we all have to chip in. No tickets will be earned for those basic chores.
- Extras will earn them tickets which are equivalent to 25¢ each and will be cashed out each time they hit $5 worth.
CREATING THE BOARD. Other than the clipboards, I didn’t spend any money on this project by getting creative and using things I already had on hand.
- I used the front rail of the baby crib we are using as a day bed in the playroom to create the main part of the system. I painted it blue with DIY Chalk Paint (I eye-balled ½ cup paint and stirred in ⅓ cup water and ⅓ cup Plaster of Paris). Since it had pre-drilled holes it was super easy to drill into the wall with long screws.
- The “To Do” and name plates were craft wood I painted black and applied vinyl to with my Silhouette Cameo. I glued them to the crib frame with wood glue. You can find the “To Do” cuttable file here.
- The “S” hooks that hold the ticket boxes are shower hooks from Target.
- The ticket boxes I cut with my Silhouette Cameo using the main part of this cuttable file shape and Silhouette Chipboard.
- The behavior straws are just striped paper straws from Target. I painted the top of the yellow ones since I didn’t have yellow on hand.
- You can buy the large roll of yellow tickets here. I used a garage bike hook screwed into the wall to hold the ticket roll. For anyone reading this thinking I’m super organized, please note that I’ve owned this roll of tickets well over a year with good-intentions of doing something like this…and it’s just now actually happening. This project has literally taken years for me to get around to. My oldest is about to turn 6. #keepinitreal
- I used the clipboards so that I can easily change the lists, quotes, bible verses, etc. as the kids grow and we add more age-appropriate responsibilities.
- My oldest is starting first grade next week, so for the Word of the Day printable, I’m using this First Grade reading Key to pull words from.
- For extra homework, I simply Google free printable worksheets for the kids to practice handwriting, spelling, math, etc. There are so many great sites that offer free educational worksheets. You can find the fall ones below here.
PRINTABLES. Just click the link to download and print. They are all size 5×7 which fit nicely on the 6×9 clipboards. These are all PDF. If you’d like to try to edit the lists to fit your family, you can convert the PDF to Word to edit it for free here. These are for personal use only, please.
- Family Rules
- Daily Chores
- Work for Hire
- Word of the Day (I plan to use a Post-It note in the box with the word of the day).
- Fruits of the Spirit
- Kind Words verse
THE SYSTEM’S INSPIRATION: DROP THE WORRY BALL
In addition to simply needing more help and wanting the kids to learn to be responsible, I recently read the book “Drop the Worry Ball” by Dr. Alex Russell. My husband’s aunt and uncle are raising two amazing kids and we told them we admire their parenting skills so much. They told us how much they love this book and how well it’s worked to end homework battles and such. The basic concept is that parents need to “drop the worry ball” so kids can pick it up and learn to worry for themselves, which helps them be proactive and make good choices. Dr. Russell advocates that we should let kids fail in “non-catastrophic” ways so that they have the chance to learn from their failure and make a better choice the next time. (He admits this can go against our natural instinct but gives tips on how to do this throughout the book). None of this “every kid gets a trophy” nonsense.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book (which I highly recommend reading in its entirety):
One of the trickiest parts of parenting is learning how to guide and protect your children yet leave them to their own devices enough that they develop their own ways of coping with the big, bad world. We have to do both. We must be active in our children’s lives, at various times teaching them directly, controlling their freedoms, or advocating for them. At the same time, we need to do the opposite: We need to be park-bench sitters in our children’s lives: interested and available, but relatively inactive, giving them their freedom and letting them learn on their own, making mistakes along the way. Fortunately, we don’t need to be perfect parents (perish the thought!), just good enough. (p. 24-25)
We should aim to be emotionally present, interested and ready to help, but let them make choices about what to do on the monkey bars so that when they fall and it hurts, they can become anxious about it–instead of relying on us to do it for them…Unfortunately, kids won’t pick up that worry ball unless and until parents put it down. (p. 26-27)
When it hurts, she learns. It’s as simple as that. The only thing that can interfere with it is parental meddling. So though we obviously don’t want our kids to know it, we should actually cheer to non-catastrophic, painful failure. (p. 28)
Just sit on the bench and sip your latte. This will be hard to do and sometimes you will feel like a bad parent. But you will be doing the right thing for your kids and ensuring they succeed on the jungle gym of life (p. 32)
He even gets into parenting kids with ADD/ADHD, why a “trophy for every kid” creates a sense of entitlement and how this style of parenting can be challenging in the “common core” and “no child left behind” styles of education. He tells you how to deal with these things (and more) so you create responsible kids who do not have a sense of entitlement. It’s not our job to assume personal responsibility for our kid’s academic efforts (or lack thereof). It’s our job to teach them how to do it themselves. It’s worth noting that a lot of this applies more to kids ages 6 and up, as you obviously don’t want to let your 2-year-old fall off the monkey bars.
Update: A few of you asked about the wall décor in the above picture:
- The “Life is Simple” Quote I bought at Target a while back.
- The 3D Cherry Blossom Wall Art is a Silhouette Design Team project I did and you can find the tutorial here.
- The colorful pendant banner was a pre-made plain paper banner I bought at Hobby Lobby and simply painted.
- The chevron dress was formerly a baby changer and I used fabric for the chevron design. The tutorial is here. Then I simply added a vinyl chalkboard label so there is a drawer for each kid.
Wish us luck being consistent with the program and I hope this inspires anyone looking to implement a similar system!
Update: We’re a week into using this system and it’s crazy how much it’s changed our daily routine and the attitudes around the house. I have more help than I can handle (even without being asked now too…they’re volunteering to help with all kinds of chores…even things that don’t earn tickets! What?!), less yelling from all of us, and the house is much cleaner. I don’t know what took me so long to do this! Now instead of sheer chaos it’s more like organized chaos.
Lest anyone think it’s all sunshine and rainbows in the Warnaar household, let me assure you it’s not. I was totally that mom in Target today, pushing the giant cart, with a crazy-screaming-tantrum-throwing-2-year-old and whisper yelling at all of them that “There will be no donuts after this if you all don’t just be quiet and let mommy shop so we once again have toilet paper and milk!!”
As always, please feel free to email or message me with any questions!
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