I spent much of my day telling this or that child to put away their clothes, clean their room, put their clothes on over and over and over. It seemed like all I did all day long was nag Nag NAG! I was getting snippy and frustrated and the kids were not seeing a loving mama.
So what should I do? Give up?
Let the house descend into a garbage dump? With six people in a house, and 3 of them small children, it takes allot of work to keep a house nominally clean. So I could either become a drudge that never spent time with my children, or I could teach them to keep their rooms clean, dress and care for their personal appearance, and help keep the house tidy.
I have always taught my kids from an early age to clean up after themselves. And mainly it works, but the more kids you have the more you have to tell them to do it. And soon it seems like that's all you do. Issue orders.
What I needed was a system that would make the kids do their chores and encourage good behaviour and no arguing on their own without reminders from me. Easier said than done of course, but I found a simple system that has been a big success.
I call it the point system and here's how it works.
We first start with our house rules. I got the idea from over at Life at Providence Lodge, a wonderful blog that has encouraged my in my mothering journey more than anything else.
1. "Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right." Eph. 6:1
2. "Be kind and loving to each other." Eph 4:32
3. "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies." Prov. 4:24
These are very simple rules and even the youngest children can understand them and understand why they are important. If our family abides by these rules that God has graciously provided for us we will have a wonderfully warm and loving home.
Next the children have a list of chores that they are responsible for every day, with one or two chores they trade off on every week. Like bringing down the dirt clothes basket every morning, or pooper scooping the dog poo.
They earn points by completing their chores without me reminding them. I use pennies because I have a ton of them. Each child has their own jar and every morning I "pay" them their points.
However if they break any of the above rules of the house points get taken away. If a child is disrespectful, says hurtful things to a sibling, lies, etc they loose a point. This works for teenagers too!
The last part of the Point System is the prize box. This box is full of little toys (I buy almost all at the dollar store) that the children love. Some items are: Plastic soldiers, glow sticks, small dolls, dress up jewelry, balloons, army toys, plastic animals, puzzles, picking out a movie to watch, computer game time. Each toy has a "price tag" on it with how many points it will take to buy it. At the end of the week each child can turn in their points to "buy" what they want. For my teenager we substitute privileges like sleepovers, bike rides, movies, books, computer time, etc for the toys.
This system has cut arguing, fighting, hurtful words, and nagging down to almost nill! I love it and our family is much more positive. When a child starts to misbehave I just say "Do you want to loose points?" And generally that nips it right in the bud. Every day the children see their points accumulating, and they see the fun prizes they can earn. It motivates them so much to know that chores and excellent behavior have rewards and makes it a habit.