Truth: Summer is coming, and with it three little humans who will be home with me all day, every day. I am excited to have nowhere to rush off to, no lunches to pack, no gym shoes to remember and no schedule to adhere to. But at the same time…nowhere to be? No schedule to adhere to? Suddenly the weeks of uninterrupted time alone with my children sounds a little more…daunting.
Truth: I need a schedule. In fact, I thrive on it and I believe children do, too. Add to that equation that both Jax and I are a little Type A and the need for a bit of structure to our summer is real. Jax has already asked me if we can make a daily routine chart like they have at school (you know, breakfast play snack play lunch play read play dinner bed). But he wants it on a posterboard written in permanent marker so that he knows what is coming next. I guess we both need a bit of a plan.
Truth: I get a lot of stuff done when the big kids are at school and Little H is napping, and I’m not going to give that up just because it’s summer. I can either give the kids lots of time to play independently (sign me up) or I can include them in the getting-stuff-done process (sounds good). I decided I would do both, and so the internet/Pinterest/Etsy search for a chore chart was on.
The search brought me to Fisher Kids, a company you can check out here that has a philosophy on parenting I can get behind. They are called Fisher Kids because they want to teach kids to fish, to provide for themselves, and thus become functioning humans in society who don’t need their Mommy or Daddy to hold their hands at every problem. Fisher Kids also believes that kids need not be rewarded or receive accolades for every little thing they do in life. “There is a need for children to have intrinsic motivation to succeed. Our stations are designed to teach children that there are some things we do simply because we want to help the family team. These are not “paid for” chores, simply deeds we all do around the house to keep a healthy, happy, high-functioning home.” You don’t get a trophy for just showing up here, kids. You’d better work.
Fisher Kids has a whole responsibility station you can purchase and it looks great and comes completely set up for you. My only problem was we don’t have a ton of wall space so I wanted a chore/responsibility system that was more three-dimensional. Plus I love jars. But I did buy the responsibility magnets from Fisher Kids, one for Jax and one for Em. I put them on our refrigerator and assigned them each two “deeds”–jobs that they have to do just because they are functioning members of our family who help out. They get those chores for a week.
Then I bought a $3 jar at TJ Maxx with a chalkboard label on the front to hold a colorful array of “chores”–things the kids can do to make money if they are feeling particularly industrious–and “deeds.” The brown/plain sticks are the “deeds” — Dishwasher Duty, Set the Table, Sweep the Kitchen, etc. They have a deed on one side and “Thank you” written on that back That’s all they get for participating, but being polite and thankful are important things to learn, too.
The colorful sticks are “chores” and are more specific–Wipe Down the Counters, Tidy and Clean the Coffee Table–and have a monetary value written on the back. These range from 10-50 cents, depending on how labor intensive the chore is. Just making them colorful made them appealing to the kids, and the fact that they are learning how to add money (so they can write down the commission earned each day and the total for the week) is an added bonus. If you need a place to start for your chores, I love the list provided here.
Basically, the kids don’t make any money if they just do their deeds and don’t do any chores. They get a hearty “Thank You” for your help and we’ll see you next week. BUT the chore jar is going to be the first place I send them this summer if they give me the dreaded, “I’m booooooored…” at which point they will be bored no longer because I will be having them do chores for free. I can’t wait.
The other element of Fisher Kids I like is to teach them not only to be helpful members of our family, but also contributing members to our community. The kids are going to give a percentage of their wages to a “Give” jar, which we will let build up and use for some kind of contribution, donation, or random act of kindness. Having the money be earned instead of given to them will really help them build some sense of ownership in the process, and I look forward to brainstorming ideas about how we can help our community over the course of the year.
The last thing I am going to do is start rewarding the kids for good behavior and exhibiting qualities I try to encourage in them. For example, yesterday Em dropped her cup of graham crackers and without me having to say anything Jax came over and gave her some of his. That sort of kindness should be acknowledged and rewarded; so once they reach a certain number of beads for their Caring Jar, we will have some kind of family reward, like going to get ice cream or making s’mores. Something fun that celebrates the kids being well-rounded, kind people. That’s my goal in life, anyway: to foster that in them. And to have as many uses for jars and beads as possible.
Lastly I got two small swingtop jars at Walmart for Jax and Em to put the money they make into–we’ll separate it into money to spend and money to save, and hopefully we can make a decent amount to open a savings account at the end of the summer. I put it all in a pretty crate that is now my Command Center and smiled like crazy about how happy being organized makes me.
And raising good humans. That’s pretty important, too.