Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Almighty Dollar

We are on DAY2 of a new reward system we have implemented in the McDermott household.

I know its early, but its been A-MAZING.

I attended a pampered chef party last week and the mother of one of the girls in Dawson's kindergarten class was the consultant. After the show ended, we were chatting about summer, and I asked how she was keeping her girls busy. She responded that 'she keeps them on a pretty tight schedule.'

I think my kids are 'on a schedule' too, in the sense that we do the same things around the same time each day, the rules don't change, and we don't spend the days in front of the TV in our PJ's as a general rule. So I asked what her definition of a 'tight schedule was,' and she grinned and began telling me about how her older daughter is very 'financially motivated.'

Well, obviously I am thinking of how I'm not going to pay my kids for doing things they are required to do as functioning family members. But then she begins to explain her system... which is brilliant.

I came home and called Kari, who had already created a system in her own home. She thought it was brilliant also. So then she introduced the money aspect into what she was already doing, and shared it with me.

On Sunday, I spent a half hour throwing to all together. Heres what it looks like on paper....

Basically, the tablet in the left pocket of their charts is just an excel spreadsheet of the things they are required to do each day. Get dressed, make bed, brush teeth, feed dogs, pick up living room, comb hair. They get a sticker for each task completed, and $1 for each sticker (the stickers are fun and cute, and they help keep track of the dollars in case I don't have time to pay out right then). So they earn about $6 just for getting up and starting their day.

Then. We made a list of other chores that sometimes need to get done. They aren't all things that have to be done every day- but things that will give them something to do and ways to earn extra $ when they are 'bored,' such as setting/clearing the table for the next meal, putting away my laundry/matching socks, cleaning dog poop and changing dog water, reading quietly for 30 minutes (which they like doing anyways), picking up backyard before sprinklers go off, etc. Each of these are worth a dollar amount, depending how big the task is.

There is also a list of 'rewards' they can spend their hard earned dollars on. They are things they have been getting for free up until now (doh! what was I thinking!??!), such as $2 for 30 minutes of TV time, $1 for a sugar snack was added recently (like a popsicle, or hot cocoa in the morning), family walks to the park, or a bike ride after dinner. There are bigger rewards they can save up for, such as $50 for an ice cream date, $100 for the drive in movie theatre with snacks, $50 to choose a movie at Red Box, $50 for a trip to the dollar store, $25 for the 'prize box' which is a stash of cheap toys I got in the clearance bin at Michael's, most of which are marked below a dollar each.

The last part is where it gets good. They LOOSE money for bad behavior. There is a list of fineable offenses, with a written dollar penalty. Bad table manners? Bummer. You owe me a buck. Not listening the first time I asked you to stop? $2, please. Hitting??! Whoops, looks like you just lost $5. Throwing a fit?, tattling?, yelling?, running in the house? All more money for mom and less money for fun.
I have never seen my kids more motivated to do good without being asked! I have never seen them more proud of their rewards for their dollars well spent. They feel empowered! They are making their own choices, and living on their own terms in a way. Dawson earned AND lost several dollars yesterday, but at the end of the day ended up with about $8. He spent $3 for a family walk to the park after dinner, and saved the rest to save toward a big reward. THEY ARE LEARNING TO BUDGET! And count money! I am less frustrated with their behavior, and feeling less guilty about being too busy to keep them busy. There is always something to do. 'Go read a book in your room for 30 minutes, and earn some money!'

Anyways. Like I said, I just had to share. My kids are a short season older than most of the other kids we hang out with, so I feel like since I have to make the first mistakes with the things I am doing wrong for all of you to see, I should probably also share the successes that come here and there in between as well.

Here's to the almighty dollar, and hoping it doesn't deflate to less than its worth before the summer is over.



Rachel said...

So when you showed this to me yesterday it looked so complicated. But as I think about it and see it here, I can't wait to implement the same type of things when the kids get older. You are teaching them some awesome skills that they will appreciate when they get older!

Thanks for blazin the trail once again!!

Beatrice Blount said...

so...go ahead and post the templates to save me some time, mmmkay?