Organized and Rewarded

This transition to traditional schooling has been p.a.i.n.f.u.l. to say the very least.  I had no idea we were going to be so busy, so tired, and so separated from one another.  On Mondays, Chloe and Carson spend over 10 hours away from home.  That's more time away from us in one day than they would in a week of homeschooling!  And I hate it.

I really hate how are lives are so separated.  The close second for top reasons I homeschooled was to allow us the freedom to live our lives with our own schedule.  To be gone when we needed to be gone.  To dictate our lives.  Unfortunately, there isn't anything I can do to change this school schedule.  So, I began working on what I could control- their time here.  Nicer mothers would have taken over the kids' chores because they are too busy.  I'm not that nice.  Or I'm too lazy.  Tomato.  ToMAHto.  Instead of removing their chores, I decided that we needed to get organized.  The goal:  To have all school, chores, showering, and readying done before Dad gets home at 6:30 each night.  The Ultimate goal:  To allow our family to reign over school.  Mission Impossible?  I have no choice but to make this succeed.

Last Friday, I set about to create chore charts that apply to our family.  Apparently, I've been married long enough that Tony's need for an Excel spreadsheet has begun to take over my brain.  I sat down with Excel and got started.  I'm thrilled with the results.  I created three separate, yet similar, charts for the kids.  Each one has a list of jobs that must be completed, and signed, before the next can be done.  Ultimately, when all chores are signed off, the kids have the freedom to play the rest of the day.

Chloe's chart during day 1!

While I was creating the chore charts, I decided they needed reward charts, too.  I'm not one for a reward.  My theory is that you do what you are supposed to because you are supposed to do it.  Your reward?  Not being in trouble for disobedience.  (Maybe Mean Mom is more accurate?)  This time I decided to institute a difficult-to-earn reward system to motivate cooperation.

Because I'm wholly incapable of figuring out rewards, I did what all stumped mommas do- I posted my needs on Facebook.  Several people responded.  And then my life-truth echoed in my brain:  These are your kids living in your life.  I always forget that.  Other people can only help so much- and I did appreciate the help, but ultimately, I decided that my kids' rewards would be determined by the experts.  My kids!

I created a neat reward chart.  (This time I used Word.  A shout out to my liberal arts degree!)  It combines my need for working because you are told to and the kids' need for rewards for a job well done.

They earn a star after a week's worth of completed boxes.  Yes, a week's worth of chore completion.  You have a bad Tuesday.  You don't get a star.  Period.  (See Mean Mom comments above.)  The small yellow stars earn them nothing other than the applause of Mom and Dad and a feeling of satisfaction.  The big gold stars are the Rewards Stars.  When they earn these stars, they get a reward.  Of their choosing.  Within my parameters.  Star Number 1 earns you something minor.  Star 5 is a bigger prize.  Star 9 is the "greatest" reward.

We all sat down at dinner Friday night, and I went over the charts with the whole family.  The kids were thrilled.  Carson, in particular, was super excited.  I couldn't initially figure out why.  The answer is two-fold.  First, he has issues with authority.  (I'll give you one guess where he gets that.  Sometime remind me to tell you the alarm clock and Lisa story.)  He is good with obeying authority as long as it isn't up in his face.  This chart is a nice way of knowing what needs to be done without having to be told.  Perfect for him.  Secondly, it gives him the opportunity to beat Chloe at something.  Super perfect for him!

We spent a fair amount of time coming up with the rewards.  They decided that Star One was going to equal: dessert, 5-10 minutes of later bedtime, or game choice on Family Game Night.  Star 5 earns them hot lunch from school.  (Think KFC or Pizza Hut- not mystery meat and plastic trays.)  I was very amused that they were so unanimously decided on that reward.  Star 9 is the big prize.  They are trying to decide if they want a trip to the toy store or lunch with just the child and Dad.  It's a close call.  They really would like just Dad to take them to the toy store.  We'll see...

Monday morning, we began the chart system.  All things being equal, it went pretty well.  Camilla cried because she couldn't read her chores, and we discovered, again!, that Carson has legalistic tendencies.  Overall, we were all quite pleased with how it all went.   I look forward to seeing who earns Star 1 this week!


Melissa said…
Ok, it seems what you hate most about school is what I like the most. School forces us to have a more structured day, which I think is good for the kids and me too. And left to our own devices, we have VERY little structure. I love privileges as rewards! Much better than "stuff"! Oh, and if you're a mean mom then I am too because all of the things that you thought might be construed as mean I totally do too :)
panaMOM said…
What I hate most about school is we can't just live our life. If Daddy decided that we want to go on a trip some week, we can't just go. We have to get homework, call the school, worry about what's being missed, etc. If we need to sleep in because of whatever reason, we can't. Know what I mean? Life just isn't ours anymore. I'm hoping we get a handle on it!!!

(And I already knew you were mean like me! LOL!)
Clara said…

MOM is an means Mean Old Mother. At least that is what I told my kids. ;)

Enjoying reading the blog. I forget why I looked you up. Can't believe the prices in Panama. Glad I am not there. :D

I have been back to the US four times since we left in January...yikes.


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