Thursday, May 10, 2012

Paying for chores with "screen time"

 image from't this little guy cute helping with chores?
If you have small children, she has a nice article on how to train small children to help.

I'm swamped with house work.  4 children can mess up faster than you can clean up and my children are especially quick at making messes.  Quite frankly, I am sick and tired of picking up after the messies.   I'm messy enough on my own!  I have a scary closet and Sewing room to prove it!  A couple of nights ago I decided I was somehow going to implement a chores system.  I am training them to run their own homes someday and I want their spouses to thank me, not blame me.  I downloaded a little app that gave me the idea for "screen time."  In this app you could assign children chores and then pay them with money, tv time, game time, computer time, etc.  I decided "screen time" was a better name for that so that I wouldn't have to decide which chore is worth Wii and which chore is worth an episode of Clifford.  The app was supposed to tally up minutes and money, but it never did work.  I had to find a way to keep up with these minutes and money another way and it was starting to look complicated.  So I decided it worked well enough (ie chores are getting done at record speed) that I had to find a simpler solution.   Basically, I give out 5 minutes of screen time for little jobs such as sweeping the kitchen, vacuuming the living room, taking out the trash, etc.  I had some big ticket items such as 30 minutes screen time for a big job like cleaning a bathroom top to bottom, picking up the yard and prepping for the weekly mowing.  I also decided to pay cash for a few items.  I am so frustrated at the state of their bedrooms that I decided to pay 50 cents a day for a clean room.  At the end of the day, I realized that they needed further motivation for their rooms so I collected 50 cents per child.   At this rate, I'll have a source of income for my Starbucks habit since they not only didn't care about earning 50 cents, but also didn't mind one bit paying me 50 cents to not .  I really was surprised that they didn't care about the money.  It really seems that to them, screen time is far more valuable.  So I am still figuring this all out, but for now it's worked pretty well.  Trash is taken out without complaining or reminding.  Same story with vacuuming, sweeping, loading the dishwasher, etc.  So I guess in order to keep with the theme, I'll be switching out screen time for the cash on the clean room.  Here is how I'm keeping up with the stockpiles of minutes.  I made a table in a Word document and just typed in 5 minutes screen time in each little box and reserved the bottom row for 30 minute screen time tasks that occur only once a week or less.  I cut them out and now I hand them to the kid after the chore is inspected.  It is now up to the children to keep their tickets so they can later trade them in for time on Howrse, Wii, Pinterest, Facebook, or even to watch the morning PBS kids lineup, or the new favorite around here is MeTV's reruns of Daniel Boone.Yesterday, one smarty pants child, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, said that she didn't have enough screen time to complete her Xtra math work online.  I told her she sure was luck then, that I didn't charge her screen time for things on the internet that are school related.  ;-) So far it is working well and my house is slowly, very slowly, looking better.  Maybe it will work well enough that soon I will see shining bedrooms greeting me each day!