Thursday, January 03, 2008

Checks and Balances.

As any parent can attest, sometimes kids can suck the life right out of you. I swear, some days, can almost hear it.

Lately, The Boy has taken to tantrums. They usually occur when I 'need' to run an important errand - like SuperTarget or the craft store. When I say tantrum, I mean he either slumps down and lays on the floor, or he more dramatically throws himself down and yells, "NOOOOOO!"

Or I'd ask him to pick up toys, or do other chores to be met with the same response.

For the most part, I pretty good at deflecting and moving on. Suck it up buddy, get going. Though when the Toddler got in on the act, I was more than a little defeated.

Something had to be done. I just can't wait and run errands when my husband gets home, and that precious 2 hours Monday, Wednesday, and Friday can't always be spent with me running like a chicken with my head cut off just so my kids don't have to run an errand.

For the last two weeks, I've instituted a check system. Well, more like tally marks, but the kids call them check so let's go with that.

Every time I ask them to do a specific, chore related task - and they do it - they get a check. Every check is worth a quarter. They're paid Friday.

This may sound pretty simple, and it is. I ask them to get their coats on. "Yes, Mommy!" And they do. Then they get a check.

Now, before you start thinking I'm giving checks for every little thing - I'm not. There are still some things they're expected to do no questions asked. And for those of you saying, "You shouldn't have to pay your kids to be good." Do it your way. Knock yourself out. I'd like to be able to go to the store without having to cajole my kids every single time. Without telling them, "It will only be a little bit." Without the constant struggle.

Over the weekend, they earn a few more as they're home more. During a school day, they may earn one, maybe two checks. Also, we now have "check worthy" chores. Yes, I'll give my oldest a check every time she unloads the dishwasher. Yes, I'll give my boy a check to vacuum the main level of the house. They love it, and so do I.

It averages out to a little under $5 a kid. For me, the change is worth every penny.



Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

Smart lady.

merrymishaps said...

Do tantrums lose a check?
That'd be some good motivation ...

Mitzi Green said...

hey, my philosophy is similar to the AA "serenity now" mantra. it's called "serenity by any means necessary."

Penny said...

Whatever gets you through the day!

Nat said...

We have a similar system instead of allowance in this house. So he gets a quarter for some small chores (setting the table for instance) but can rake it in if it's a big job like shoveling. (It has to be a substantial help -- i.e. he needs to be outside for at least a good half hour.) Most I've paid him is about $2.50. I call it a fee for service model. I reckon stuff like cleaning his room just doesn't count.

Glad I'm not the only mom who has resorted to this.

Feener said...

sounds like an excellent plan and it is working !!

Louise said...

Hi, thanks for dropping by and a Happy New Year to you and your family! I completely agree with you - do what it takes! Not sure what's up with the 5 year olds, mine's completely nuts and drives me up the wall with her tantrums. We just suffered another one. She told me that 'in imagination land they can do what they like and that's where she lives'! I told her that WE don't live there and that in real life you lose your favourite christmas present for a day. To that she responded with a Swiper 'awww man'! Sheesh.. kids??!!

Karen said...

I've been using this method with my tribe for the last year - it works. There are certain jobs that HAVE to be done and certain behaviour to be adopted in certain places or situations - no arguments and no negotiation. Any complaints result in them being awarded another chore to do until they shut the heck up. Other jobs are voluntary and they get paid. Bad behaviour results in loss of money or a reduction in their allowance. It works.

The way I see it is that adults get a raise for working well in their jobs. They're not criticised by other adults for gaining a financial reward for doing something good - so what's different in a domestic sense with little people? Absolutely nothing.

Business people would call it 'enterprising'.

Gretchen said...

Thanks, Ladies! So far, I haven't deducted anything, as that's too 'complicated' for me. Today is payday, and they're all terribly excited!