Sunday, July 13, 2008

I’ve just discovered the Santa-threat jackpot MID-SUMMER.

One of the reasons I love Christmas so much is the idle-threat use of ‘Santa is watching.’ As in, “Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good and he sees you doing that.” “Santa keeps his naughty and nice list. Is your behavior naughty or nice right now?” The power of those statements in our house is really unparalleled. The problem is when Christmas floats away onto last year’s calendar and we are 11 months from the next gift-laden holiday, I don’t dare use the “Santa is watching” threat lest I find myself ready to field the wish list requests for longer than I must. I can’t imagine doing an ‘only 326 more days until Christmas’ countdown every night starting in January. No way. So, I am left powerless. My own threats of losing DS, TV, bikes, etc. are relatively effective, but often lead to a choice of bad behavior over the hostage-threatened item just for a good mom-child throw-down.

HOWEVER, I have discovered a new jackpot. This one, so far, is proving to be more golden than Santa.

A chore/reward chart.

I know I am a bit behind the times on this and many parents have been doing it for years, but OHMYWORD I didn’t know how effective this could be. HOLYMOLY my kids have NEVER been so eager to earn their checkmarks for their daily functions. Our daily chores consist of these:

  • Set the Dinner Table
  • Make your Bed
  • Practice Printing/Math/Reading (it is summer, so we all need a little incentive to take time to do this now)
  • Put away your clean laundry
  • Put away all my toys

Okay, so admittedly, I just implemented this plan this week. We will see how it progresses, but the idea Brian I had was that each time they complete one of these tasks, they earn a checkmark. The above list may seem a bit undemanding to many of you, but I have 5 and 6-year-old boys and this is what I would like to get from them each day WITHOUT complaint. If they complain about the task, they do not earn a checkmark. If they do not perform to my standards, they do not earn a checkmark. After 18 checkmarks they earn a $3 allowance (5 and 6 year olds, remember, $3 is the equivalent of a sports car forcyrinoutloud – preferably paid in change so it looks like even more to them). They have been asking for some small action figure type toys lately, so Brian I thought this a good way to let them earn the money themselves since we don’t like to buy them toys without cause.

The drawback. Based on their historical chore-related habits, I really thought that they would earn 18 checkmarks every 10-14 days and this would have been a radical turnaround in their behavior. In the first day, my kids earned FIVE checkmarks. Gavin even cried when he got home yesterday when he learned the basement was all cleaned up in his absence. This may cost me a bit more than I had realized.

Of the above tasks, the one that is working out THE BEST for Brian and me – EXTRAS. This is a very subjective area for anything above and beyond that we think earns them a check. OHMYHOLYWORD you can’t believe the power of this so far. It has my boys tripping over their feet to open my door first, to pour my cereal, to take my plate to the kitchen sink, to lick the very stinking floor I am about to walk across. HOLYCHILDSLAVELABOR, BATMAN this has even me feeling a bit guilty. Because so far, I can’t really justify any one of these small acts as enough to earn a checkmark. But, I am loving it. Yesterday, as we were leaving the house to go to dinner, I called for Grant to come ONCE AGAIN and get in the car. I threatened for him to lose a checkmark (another bonus for Mom and Dad) if he can’t listen. He came running and when I inquired as to what he was doing upstairs when I CLEARLY stated it was time to go before he ascended the steps, he replied, “making the bed.” I told him he already earned his checkmark for making his bed and he couldn’t earn another in one day for the same task. He replied, “No, Mommy, YOUR bed.” Oh yes, he did.

Umm yeah, this is gonna work out just fine.



  1. HOLYMOLYGOSHGOLLY BATGIRL. You have hit on something. I may try that. Of course, that would involve getting organized... Here's one idea I have that works good at my house: I have the "extra chores" on a wheel that gets turned on M,W,F and the kids all take turns doing the chores which include: bring laundry to laundry room, wipe down kids' bathroom sink, bring trash to main trash can in garage, and sweep under the kitchen table (I am also in the rotation - just easier than a battle, ya know). I like the check marks. I would probably use "idiot box" as the reward, though, as I am cheap. My kids only get $1 per year of age per month. Your system would break my pocketbook! Congrats on another Mommy Miracle Moment... they happen all too seldom, don't they?

  2. I don't want to be the one to burst your bubble, but the novelty may wear off a wee bit in the near future.

    It's still a great idea to get them in the regular chore habit.

    In our house we have chores you do just because you're part of the famiy, and chores you get paid for. They also get a "just because" allowance.

  3. I think it sounds great.
    Simple works. Even if it wears off down the road...NOW is better than NEVER.

  4. If this WORKS, I am SO ALL OVER IT.

    Then again, my 2 year doesn't know what Santa is.

    *le sigh*

  5. AnonymousJuly 13, 2008

    Hate to agree with Jenn, but the novelty may wear thin in the future. We're doing Accountable Kids (google it) with the boys and it's great, but the fun factor has worn off and some days it's a real PITA. I think I need to step it up a notch. ; )

  6. Um yes, going online to buy one of these immediately!!

    Where did you get it?

    Must have children making my bed. Enough said! :)

  7. yes...

    good for you!

    whatever works...

  8. Oh My! That's working wonderfully! I'm only SIXTEEN YEARS TOO LATE!! Seriously - I hope it continues to work and I am going to consider starting this for Alexis and Little Billy - boy do we need somethin' to straighten those two up!

    Have a good Monday - Kellan

  9. ha ha ha. oh my! That's pure genius!

  10. Brilliant!

    This is why I am happy to read mom's of older kiddos. I get all my ideas from you guys. This one? Is a total keeper!

  11. AnonymousJuly 14, 2008

    AWESOME! Now trademark that and sell it to'll be rich!

  12. Does this mean you will have to start making your own bed, so the boys don't argue about who gets to do it to earn the checkmark?

  13. I wonder if it's too late to try this with my boys.

  14. AnonymousJuly 14, 2008

    Are you willing to let them travel to make my bed too?? LOL

    I hope it works.. I am going to try this when my oldest gets a little bigger and his Nana stops spoiling him!! :)

  15. I'm looking forward to incentive charts. We're just creeping around the corner, for that to be effective, with 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 year olds.

  16. A great idea! Hey, if it works..fabulous! I can't wait to get my daughter into some chores.

  17. Let me know if it works..... this is something that I might want to research.

  18. AnonymousJuly 15, 2008

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  19. Child labor is the BEST!! And I have an army at my disposal!

  20. Every child likes to feel that they are really contributing...I just want mine to be happy!
    I feel a little guilty, too, when the girls are doing their chores and I'm on the couch reading!