I have been a mom for 10 years now but have only recently started to understand a few things. You would think I would have figured them out a long time ago, but it was difficult to be motivated and consistent when I was continually pregnant and nursing little ones. Finally, my kids are getting to a point where we can be more of a family team, and they can understand responsibilities and consequences. So, I was able to create three systems that have really helped our family.
I am a Vegas girl used to constant sunshine, constant gambling at PokieGuide site, so the eternal winters here in Iowa (October through April) are very hard on me. To get me out of my winter slump, I started writing a weekly checklist. I write a few goals for the week: dinners and snacks to prepare, our daily activities, and things I need to do with my husband and each child. Then I write a daily list from the weekly list.
This has kept me motivated and focused each day. I don’t get to everything, but the point is that I am trying. Also, I don’t print off any cutesy “to-do” sheets and put them in a binder–they just aren’t my thing. Instead, I have a spiral notebook where I jot everything down. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done.
Rolling for Jobs
I have taught the kids different jobs over the last few years, but I was lacking consistency. I had a hard time keeping up with things and making sure they knew what their part was. I tried a few job charts, but they didn’t work out for our family. One day, I saw a fun idea on Pinterest where kids roll a die for their job. Each job is numbered 1-6, and whichever number they roll, that is their job for the week. We have a list for kitchen jobs and one for house jobs. For us, the kitchen jobs are (1) wash dishes, (2) load dishwasher, (3) clear table, (4) wash counters, (5) sweep, and (6) “you pick.” The house jobs are (1) upstairs bathroom, (2) downstairs bathroom, (3) family room, (4) vacuum, (5) toy room, and (6) you pick.
Sometimes I switch them up. But the main thing has been the kids “roll” their own jobs, so they really can’t complain. Nobody gets the same job two weeks in a row either. We have been doing this method for over a month now, and it has been successful! The kids actually remind me to roll for jobs on Sunday nights.
Now, don’t go thinking jobs are always easily and nicely done. Just tonight, my nine and six-year-olds had complete meltdowns, while my four-year-old excitedly cleaned the bathroom. But they eventually did their work. And the meltdowns inspired us to add a new rule to the cleaning responsibilities—crying equals another job. That solved the problem pretty quickly.
My last idea came recently. I was frustrated because my kids always wait for me to get out of bed in the morning to make their breakfast, when they are perfectly capable of doing it on their own. They were also struggling to take initiative in other areas. So, I came up with the “Accountability” chart.
The idea is that every time they “self start” on anything they get an X on their chart. When they get 20, 30, 50, 100 X’s, they get a reward. The rewards range from staying up late, to an ice cream cone, to getting a dollar bill. Now, when I say “self start,” I mean doing anything without me asking them or reminding them. This includes brushing teeth, cleaning their room, doing homework, making a sandwich; I don’t care what the activity is as long as they are doing it of their own will.
They are in charge of their X’s, as well. We are on the honor system here, and I am pretty ok with that. I told my kids, “You can choose to do it on your own and be rewarded, or I will keep bugging you to do it, and you will not be rewarded. Either way, you are doing it.” The consequence is no X. There will be no taking away of X’s. I hand drew a sheet of boxes for each child to fill in. They aren’t pretty, but that’s not the point.
Although I am no expert on parenting and am still floundering a lot of days, these are systems that have worked for our family. The kids are learning accountability, I am keeping myself on a schedule, and our home is running more smoothly.
QUESTION: Is there an area of your life in which you feel you or your children are lacking motivation or accountability?
CHALLENGE: Use the author’s suggestions as a jumping off point to develop systems that will help your own family.
Edited by Aubrey Degn and Sarah Monson.
Collage images from Heather Bell.
Feature Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net/posterize with graphics by Anna Jenkins
Originally published on March 19. 2015.
Lindsay Rasmussen says
I love this idea of the accountability chart! And the phrase “self start” is golden! I’m going to do this! And I agree about not printing out cutesy Pinterest worthy lists… Just getting it done is the point. Sometimes I get caught up in the making of the chore chart so much so that the actual purpose of the chart is lost. The focus is the kids and the parenting. Thanks for a great article!
Heather bell says
Thank you! It really is a simple way to get the kids and yourself motivated.Would love to hear how it goes!
Thank you for sharing your ideas and especially for posting your messy lists. They made me want to cry because, to me, they represent reality. We try so hard to be good mothers and we so often don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve because things aren’t on cutesy printouts. My reality isn’t cutesy. This was a good reminder to me that I just have to keep trying and believing in myself and my children. Thank you.
Heather Bell says
Yes you’re so right!
I wish I could post a picture. I recently made charts for my 5 and 6 (almost 7) yr olds because I was so tired of feeling like I was always asking them to do things. I feel like such a horrible mom asking my kids to do stuff, what feels like, all the time. I want to say, you want to play a game rather than making sure their “stuff” gets done. The chart is divided into 3 sections. One is for the morning. I have one chart that uses words and the other has pictures for my 5 yr old but it says they must get dressed and be at the breakfast table by 7:10, brush teeth, and for my older son, he has be brushed (he has a sensory processing disorder). There are boxes for each item on the chart and they check them off as they do them. I had to remind them about the chart for the first week but now they are good to go and it makes things so much easier. The afternoon and evening sections vary depending not the child. The checks-offs that are the same are put lunch bag on counter (I was getting so annoyed that they leave them in their backpacks), homework, practice awana verse 2x/week, occupational therapy exercises, wash hands before dinner (I was also getting frustrated because if I didn’t say “wash your hands” then they wouldn’t do it and I believe in always washing your hands before eating), shower, brush teeth, & pick out clothes for tomorrow. The older one also has to practice piano 3x times a week. They know that we do check-offs at 7:30 every night. It has put a lot more responsibility on them and they are becoming better at time management. When I use the chart right, things go pretty well and they are definitely learning to be accountable for their behavior, whether they do something or not. They keep a tally each day of how many check marks they have earned and we came up with a number which is their goal for the week. If they hit that goal, they can choose something out of the prize box (which includes random knickknacks along with coupons for an extra time, finding an extra geocache, a movie night at home, their choice of a favorite meal, etc).
I love your idea of doing the check offs for cleaning jobs and will definitely be incorporating that as well. Rolling of the dice will add some fun to it which is always good. And the crying = another job is just BRILLIANT. I’ve been struggling with this one and that is a fantastic idea!! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas!!
HEather BEll says
Thank you for sharing your great ideas! This community is the best!
Debbie T says
GREAT ideas! I love the rolling a die chore system – I don’t have to buy anything or print anything – awesome. And I like “X” chart too – that’s the kind of system I need to establish as well. That makes sense to me! I am really excited to read this today!
HEather BEll says
Thank you! I haven’t been on this site much and glad it is being helpful!