I am often asked how I get my kids to “voluntarily” do household chores.
That question makes me laugh.
If you’re hoping for an easy, foolproof method to get your kid to help around the house–I got nothing.
But because we’ve been outnumbered since the twins were born, PhilBillPaul and I needed to develop some survival techniques.
Though I have been a mom at home since The Grunter was born, I have also had a homebased business . In addition, I have always had clear boundaries about what I would and would not do. I am all about teaching our kids life skills.
I certainly do not fit the old stereotype of the doting stay-at-home mom. I’m more of the Rosanne variety and often used her famous line “If the kids are alive when my husband comes home, I’ve done my job.”
Order and organization makes me happy. Disorder and chaos create stress for me.
I have had systems and checklists for most everything because they work for me. (Getting them to work for the children is an issue for another post.)
One of my criteria for an effective system is that it can be self-monitoring and always works on the honor system. A system is not suppose to create more work for the supervisor/manager/leader of the said system.
Teaching Your Children Responsibility by Linda and Richard Eyre is a book that presents a peg system that we found to be very effective. They are parents of NINE so I figured they could teach me a thing or two! I highly recommend any of their books – I found several nuggets that have helped me manage our home through the years.
You can use your creativity (or involve your kids and use their creativity) to create your actual peg system.
Lucky for us, PhilBillPaul loves his power tools and I let him use his creativity with wood and power tools and make the pegs. He basically created the system from the line drawing in the book on page 56. Pegs were attached with fishing line. Be sure they are attached. Don’t give them one more thing to lose.
I just picked the location which was right outside the door of our bedroom in the upstairs hallway.
We fashioned our pegs much the same way as the book suggested. Each child had a morning peg, homework peg, job peg and evening peg. When they completed their morning responsibility which was to make their bed, brush their teeth and be ready for school, they put that peg in. Same basic idea with each of the pegs.
Above the pegs was a small shelf where we had a “family bank” which was an idea also taken from the book. Each night the kids were responsible for filling out a slip of paper and they got ten points for each peg they put in each day. These points were converted on payday but the key here was that each child was responsible for keeping track of their points, having them initialed by mom or dad and put in the bank each day.
Three kids and the honor system works two ways. We’re teaching accountability and personal responsibility. We ended up using this system with some degree of success for about four years.
But be prepared, as with most things, when the “new” wears off, the “fun factor” wears off too.
The age-old tattling system comes in to play.
“The Grunter put his cleaning peg in but he didn’t do his job.”
” Wizzy isn’t finished with her homework and she put her peg in.”
” Roger Leroy didn’t take all her pegs out from yesterday.”
Whatever system you use, remember your goal is teach them. It’s a hard lesson for both sides. The teacher (you, the parent) must let the student (your child) learn to do things for themselves and learn natural consequences.
The points, allowances and/or privileges you decide on will impact their personal motivation for completing their chores and actively contributing to family life.
The book really outlines the system well and you can adapt it to your family and your expectations for your children.
I’d love to hear if you try this system or if you have a system that is working well at your house! I’m especially looking for a good teenager system these days. 🙂