Yesterday marked two weeks of Chores For Charity in our house and I am compelled to share what I’ve learned.
- Chores Suck! So, those are my words, but if Josie knew the “S” word I am sure she’d use it too. As a parent, implementing a chore system is a serious PITA. What it really amounts to is more work for me – I have to remember to prompt Josie to do her chores, supervise her while she does them, keep track of the chore chart, pay out allowance…and that doesn’t include the fights when she doesn’t want to do them. Strangely, Josie still loves to clean. She begs to use the Dustbuster and Swiffer and thanks me profusely when I let her. I mean, I think the girl would pay me to allow her to use the Dustbuster. But, there are times when I ask her to make her bed or clean up her toys before bed and I can see the tantrum developing before my eyes: fists clenched, head shaking no in a violent fashion, and then the “NO” screams begin. In those moments, I think to myself, “What the hell were you thinking? This SUCKS!”
- But It Is Not All Bad: Josie is starting to take more pride in our house and belongings since starting chores. Sometimes, she will say, “This place is a hot mess,” and then she will start putting her toys away on her own. Or, she may ask to do the dishes (granted this is her absolute favorite of the chores on her list!). And on two separate occasions, I have heard her scold Lily, saying, “AAARGH! Lily! I just cleaned up in here. Put those books away.” How many times have I said that (or something like it) to her? I had to suppress a giggle when it happened and, *confession time*, I didn’t even correct her for scolding her sister because I know how frustrating it is to clean up and have it a mess again 10 seconds later. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, Josie is still a walking natural disaster. We are on constant alert for Hurricane Josie to blow through at any time. These baby steps just mean we downgraded her to a Category 2 (Extensive Damage) from a Category 3 (Devastating Damage).
- Flexibility Required: Yes, as with much in motherhood, Chores For Charity requires both mental and physical flexibility. For instance, I quickly lowered the expectation for what Josie’s “made bed” looks like. What started as “pull the blanket and sheets up to the top of the bed and then fold down to expose the pillow” has evolved to “just make sure the sheet and blanket cover the pillow.” I can be flexible and go with the flow. Bed-making also requires a bit of physical flexibility. Josie’s bed is situated in a corner with only two sides exposed. She stands on the side of her bed to pull the sheets and blanket up but always wants me to help. Helping means that I stand at the bottom of the bed, usually on one foot with the other leg stretched behind me and my waist bent at a right angle stretching my arms in front of me like Super Mom to get the blankets and sheets to the inner upper corner of the bed, usually while Lily is hanging on some part of my body. Yes, there are easier ways to do this, but this is what keeps Josie actively engaged in the chore and so I am flexible, literally.
- About The Benjamins: I’m not sure how much money Josie has in her jar currently, but it is not insignificant. We are paying her more than we typically would if the money was just going to her, but this is helping us reach a family goal for monthly charitable donations so I am okay with it. She does not get her allowance if she throws a tantrum about doing the chores, but still has to do the chores anyway. Needless to say, she has been penalized several times so she has not earned to her maximum potential this month. The allowance has been a good way for me to teach Josie about monetary denominations and counting. I think she finally gets that 4 quarters is equal to one dollar bill. She has also come to the conclusion that, when it comes to money, more is better: