I am the mother of a smart, headstrong, intelligent 5-year old girl. She knows what she wants when she wants it and she also knows what she doesn’t want and when she doesn’t feel like doing something. She is the only human being I have ever witnessed getting side-tracked 15 times on the way from the living room to the bathroom to brush her teeth. We have a very tight morning schedule and there are certain things that she needs to do before we can get out of the house and on our way to school. In the past I would help her along with picking out clothes or brushing her hair, but over time she wanted to do those things herself so I started letting her. The only problem is that it took her ages and ages to get those tasks accomplished because she was getting side-tracked by playing with the dog, or just simply laying on the floor in her bedroom wrapped up in a blanket. ANYTHING to avoid getting ready or contributing to us getting out of the house on time. This would eventually turn in to me repeating myself over and over and then eventually having to raise my voice or take the brush and try to brush her hair while she was lying down. It was not a pretty picture by any standard.
Another thing my daughter loves is money. If someone drops a penny or a quarter and she finds it, it automatically becomes her property. She doesn’t care who it belongs to. She found it, so it is now hers. Every time we would step foot in a store, or if she would even catch wind of the fact that a trip to the store was being made, she was already planning her attack on the toy section because she was getting something.
I try to raise my daughter to put less emphasis on material things and more emphasis on family time and doing things together. But, as she is only five, a trip to the store where they have “stuff” is like reliving Christmas every day of her life. She usually wants to get something. She is pretty good if I tell her we aren’t getting something on one trip or another, but you can still see the deep disappointment in her eyes as the trip to the store now becomes something she has to tolerate for 30 minutes.
So, on yet another crazy hectic morning of me trying to put underwear on a sleeping child I decided there had to be another way. I decided to make a list of the things that she absolutely had to have done before getting out of the house, and I wrote them out on a homemade chart. This is the first one I created.
We have since upgraded to a dry erase board that we found on Amazon.com. It works much nicer because I don’t have to re-create the chart every week on a new piece of paper, and my daughter likes to be the one to clean it off. You can get it here:
I told my daughter that if she could mark off each one of the “To-Do’s” we had on list, she would get a quarter for all the ones I didn’t have to ask her to do. If I had to ask her to do it and it was time to leave, she would not get an “x” for the task that day. If she did all her tasks, she would get $1.25/day which would be around $6.25/week. I also told her that with her earned money, she could buy what she wanted at the store when we go. That way, she would understand the value of her money and ask herself if she really needed the $1 pack of plastic bugs or if she wanted to save her money to buy something bigger. I told her she could create her own personalized allowance bank. We didn’t have any extra piggy banks lying around, so we made one out of an old coffee canister. This is the one she created.
It was her own design and she was proud of it. She knew all the money that was put in it was the money she earned from working and doing her tasks. We have since upgraded to a nicer allowance bank that came with special stickers and paint. I bought this one on Amazon.com.
This new routine has worked like a charm for us. The first morning she was up and out of bed so fast she almost knocked me over. She was in her desk looking for a special marker to make her x’s with and she was on the move. I didn’t have to ask her to do one thing! The dog was in her kennel, she was dressed with immaculately brushed hair and she was standing by the door in her coat, hat and boots. She was waiting for me! I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. We had time to spare, and I think we might have actually laughed together that morning. Neither one of us was stressed and we had an amazing start to our day. I can honestly say it has been a great decision for both of us to start doing this. My daughter has responsibilities and she is learning the value of a dollar. She has managed to save some of her hard earned money, and she is also the proud owner of 10 new shades of lip gloss:)
You can use this approach with any type of chore or task you want to implement. We used it for our morning routine because that is where we were having the most issues. I think this would work great for having kids help with any type of chore you want them to participate in that is age appropriate. The important thing for us was to help my daughter realize that you can be rewarded for working hard towards something. She is proud of herself and she understands the concept of saving and spending, and I am a happy, stress-free momma.