Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Toy time out and extra chores

It is not my responsibility to pick up my children's toys. Our 7mo daughter can't pick her stuff up, of course, but her older sisters are quite capable of putting their things where they belong. If they don't put their toys/projects/papers/books away when they're done with them, those items are put in time out (or thrown away/recycled if that seems to be the better option to me). Once in time out, the item cannot be played with or used until it has been "redeemed" by the child completing an extra chore. If something stays in time out too long, it just might move to our give away box and leave our home forever.
I made a list of extra chore options, complete with pictures, for my daughters to choose from and taped the list to the inside of a cupboard. I found this helpful when they couldn't read and there were very few chores they could actually do. I recently upgraded our system to short suggestions printed on paper and glued to popsicle sticks. The sticks are kept in a jar inside a cupboard. This allows me to add new options more easily and remove anything that is no longer appropriate. I can also print ideas on different colored paper for different children: one color for the oldest as she learns new skills, another for each of her siblings that reflect their younger ages and more limited abilities. If the child doesn't care for the first chore she pulls out, or it's not available that day (e.g. her sister has already completed it), she is perfectly free to choose something different.
Usually completing an extra chore is optional: a free time activity motivated by desire to earn something back or out of boredom. Recently however the girls accumulated far too many books in time out (possibly as many as 50!) The fact that they weren't motivated to redeem them is a commentary on just how many books we own... Anyway, I made the completion of one extra chore compulsory until the area given over to time out items should be cleared out once more. They are still free to choose whichever task they want; the requirement was simply that they choose something every day.
If there isn't anything in time out, extra chores still come with a reward. I am willing to pay a small amount for them to be done (current rate for their ages and the size of the tasks is a single dime), or they can earn extra computer play time. There is no limit on how many extra chores may be done in a single day, but all regular tasks have to be completed first. Extra chores do not replace everyday chores, including schoolwork.
As of now the craft sticks are labeled for our 5yr and our 6.5 yr old daughters, based on our particular circumstances:
clean floor under high chair
give away/throw away 1 toy
recycle 5 papers
shine bathroom sink
clean toilet
shoot basketball 10 minutes
dust one room
put away 20 extra dishes
clean dining room chair
vacuum one room
take out small trash
take out recycling
organize living room closet
make parfaits for everyone
cut fresh vegetables
fill carrot containers
put away clean diapers
Their regular chores including putting away certain portions of our laundry, putting away certain types of dishes, setting and clearing the meal table, maintaining a decently clean bedroom, and taking out the compost. Our daughters' abilities are similar enough that I just used white paper this time, but that will change within a couple years when their younger sister needs very simple ideas but the older girls master new skills. New chores that I can already foresee adding in a few months include weeding and harvesting in our garden, sweep floor, wash tile floor, scrub bathtub, wash windows.
What chores would you like done, which your children might be able complete for you with a little motivation?
Linked with Works for Me Wednesday, Modest Monday, Teach Me Tuesday

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