I went to MOPS this past week and heard a great speaker (www.NadiaSwearingen-Friesen.com) and she inspired pretty much all of us I am sure:) Not only did she have a great sense of humor (a must when you are a mother!) but she had a really great system she came up with years ago to get her kids organized and NOT relying on parents to tell them every little thing to do.
Once I heard her system, I just knew it would be a great thing for us, tailored to our own family, of course. We have done many charts over the years and lots of them have worked really well but all too often, the chart just becomes another thing blending in to the surroundings on the wall and we slowly forget about it. The boys have a beautiful Clean Room Chart on their wall...but they forgot it was even there! And I am not the best at reinforcing it, especially on 3 nights a week I am flying solo. I'm just too darn tired to think about enforcing the chart and doling out consequences. Bad maybe but it's the truth!
So yesterday, Ben and I sat down and made our list of things the kiddos need to accomplish each day and wrote them all on popsicle sticks! The boys have big sticks for the morning and smaller sticks for the afternoon/evening time. They lay them all out in the order they need to accomplish things and as they finish each thing, they pop the stick into their cup and at the end of the day? If they finish all of their sticks, they get a colored stick (Yellow for Z, Blue for S and Red for E). After they collect 10 colored sticks, they get a prize!
Since Eliana can't read yet, we did pictures on her sticks. She has "Get Dressed," "Brush Teeth," "Quiet/Rest Time," "Clean up Dishes," "Read a Book," and "Clean Up." We will add more as she gets older but this is good for now! She was very happy to put her "Get Dressed" stick in her cup this morning;)
Zakkai very carefully arranged his last night in the order things need to get accomplished and I heard the first stick being plopped in the cup before I was even out of bed this morning! We told them that if they finish their morning tasks early enough, they may be able to do a couple of their optional afternoon ones. There are a few things that can be done in either the morning or afternoon.
One stick that I am very excited about that we are incorporating is the "Spend 15 min with your sibling" stick. So, for example, Zakkai finished all of his morning chores super early this morning (yea!) and had extra time. He decided to spend 15 minutes with Eliana. We told them they are to go to the sibling they chose (they have their names on each side of the stick) for the day and say, "Would you like to play with me for 15 minutes?" and then "What would you like to play?" The point is to teach them to think about someone else and to hopefully, foster a closer relationship between all of them. They are going to have to stick with each other for a lifetime and learn to work together and love each other through all sorts of experiences. We'd like to start that early!
Zakkai went to Eliana and asked her if she'd like to play. At first she said "No" (little stinker!) but then she quickly changed her mind and told Zakkai she would like to play with her dollhouse. They went up and spent about 10 minutes doing that and 10 more minutes working on her lacing boards. What a great start to the morning!
When I peeked in the boys room before heading downstairs, I found beds made and jammies put away. I think I'm going to really like this!! The boys are very excited about it and we are determined not to just make it "One more system" but something that will become part of our routine. Our goal is to get all of them to be doing the things they need to do without constant reminders or nagging. WE don't get people reminding us to brush our teeth and get our shoes on and clean up our dishes so sooner or later, they need to figure out how to do it without reminders, too!
I love how proud they are already about how much they accomplished by 8am this morning. This will be especially good for Zakkai, who is easily distracted. To have a tangible way to do his tasks and see what he has already done and needs to do is going to be so helpful!
Now the flip side is, this will require just one more chart to be able to administer consequences. I will post a picture of the chart when I finish it. The chart will have each of their names and 3 pictures of ears and 3 pictures of mouths by each name. Why ears and mouths? Because most of the time when they get in trouble, it's for not listening or for talking back! When they do either, they will have to take the corresponding card down and that will earn them an extra chore. Boo!
If they have to take 3 down in one day, they will lose one of their colored sticks. I have a sneaking, really smart Mama suspicion that that won't happen too many times once they get into the system. Who wants to lose a colored stick that they worked so hard for?!
It was so nice this morning not to be reminding every 3 minutes that I almost forgot to do my own things! The boys were packing up to leave and they said, "Mommy? Did you pack our lunches today?" Oops! Maybe I should have made that a stick.....;)
Eliana has a cold and is a little bit on the grumpy side. We finished her lacing boards, got dressed and painted her nails! We haven't done that in so long and she keeps saying, "It's so pretty, Mama!" She came to me while I was writing this and said, "Mommy, you need to put on some Paul." I was really confused for a minute until she pointed to her nails and I realized she was trying to say "Nail Polish." Gosh, she's cute:)
Hopefully, the rest of the day will go just as smoothly! Maybe I'll have extra time in my days now to sit on the couch and eat my chocolates and be fanned with palm leaves. Just kidding! I wish...