Our weekly schedule seems to have changed overnight as Easton and McKay have started baseball. For the next seven weeks we have an evening commitment of some sort every weeknight between practices, games, Scouts, birthday parties, and occasional school activities. When does homework, chores, and dinner happen?!! It's thrown me for a loop and the kids too!
Also, our family’s near future could see many significant changes – a new contract for Ryan’s work, perhaps a local move to a bigger place, a new baby in September, and Easton and I giving homeschooling a go.
I've been struggling to figure out and implement some better systems around here for getting things done with the kids' participation. Feeling unsettled and too busy has made me downright grumpy and overwhelmed actually.
Luckily, I have a wise, lovely friend who has begun gathering a group of mothers each month for a Mother’s Circle. Each month there is a selected topic of interest that is presented and discussed. I presented last month on teaching children personal safety and our hostess presented last week on ideas found in Richard and Linda Eyre’s book “The Entitlement Trap: How to Rescue Your Child with a New Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership.” One of the women there that night is someone I am slowly getting to know and glean from her wisdom. A military wife, she just moved here recently and then gave birth to her tenth child, home schools her kids, and runs three home based businesses (Homemaking Cottage website/E-zines, DoTerra essential oils, and energy work or something like that). To be doing all that, she HAS to have some serious systems at work, working! One element we all discussed that evening at length has stuck with me all week – creating a family economy.
Creating and instituting a family economy is just what my nesting brain needed to hear and mull over! What is a family economy? It is a system where parents train children to be functioning members of the home in preparation for launching them successfully into the world someday. Those who do the work earn the money or rewards of their labor.
This past winter, my bishop mentioned in passing this quote which has also been percolating in my brain:
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
I do not want to fail at this parenting thing because I see so much potential in my children! Yet, I’ve been floundering for a while on how to move forward. For the past week I have read articles, listened to podcasts, and read snippets of a couple books I own on this topic, sharing ideas with Ryan along the way. On the drive home from our Spring Break trip today, I formulated a plan and continued to pitch parts to Ryan for his feedback. At dinner tonight, I introduced the basic ideas of the system to the kids. I was so relieved everyone seems on board with the whys and whats of the plan thus far.
I told them we as their parents want to help them become independent adults so some day we don't have to follow them around at college, on their missions, or when they're married - that'd be embarrassing and show we failed as parents to prepare them for the world. We also want them to learn how to manage money they earn and understand deadlines for responsibilities.
While the boys finished up their dinner rotation duties, I sat down and laid out two charts. One chart is for tracking each child’s daily check list of responsibilities each morning and evening and they'll have to get me to sign off when they're done. Our evening breaks down into three elements – practice (homework, math facts, reading, and music practice), zone (daily duty zone and weekly zone's deeper clean list), and dinner assignments.
The other chart describes the rotating duties and daily check list. I really liked Merrilee Boyack’s system of numbering certain things that rotate among her children - van seating to avoid fighting, table setting assignments, and dinner cleanup duties. We’re also going to start rotating unloading the dishwasher to see how that goes. Our cabinets are pretty high and not accessible to the kids very well so I’ll have to help, but over half of the stuff they can do and it’s time to include them in it!
We determined Sunday night dinner would be our best time to hold our family meetings. This is when a review of the previous week’s work will be evaluated, the banker will pay those who earned, look at the upcoming week’s calendar, set the week’s menu with everyone’s input, institute the rotations for the coming week and hopefully begin setting personal and family goals together. I really enjoyed the kids’ and Ryan’s levels of input tonight. The kids seemed to enjoy the idea of having a say in all the items mentioned and evaluating how it works for our family. I am so grateful that Ryan is eager to support this system and discuss areas of concern as a family.
The children will earn money and video game time based upon what they accomplished each week. Morgan said she’d prefer to earn outings with Mom or Dad so we’ll be figuring this out as we go. Easton said he is motivated by knowing what's expected of him so he can earn his video game time. McKay's more motivated by earning money thus far. We talked about what their earned income will now pay for instead of coming out of Mom & Dad's wallets – PTA Friday snacks, movies, apps, indoor and theme parks visits, toys, candy . . . we will see how this works.
I’ve read some families pay based on points earned and when I totaled up the items I want to work with them on, it came to ~250 points/week = $2.50. If they do everything, they can double the amount earned. Some families pay interest quarterly on money kids save and have the kids utilize a check register to record their earnings and expenditures. One family’s children can earn their age each week. We’re not ready to be paying our kids their age yet although it’d be nice to let them see their tithes-savings-spending totals grow quickly that way.
Tonight, we started with the dinner setting and cleanup rotation assignments and I had a big grin on my face! The kids are finally old enough to really be helpful, but more importantly, I’ve realized a few things about how I can better “inspire, not require” them to work. I've been waiting for this day to arrive! Was our first test run tonight perfect? No way! One son began with a dutiful grumble, the boys got in a water fight and a Pyrex dish almost crashed to the floor. But in the end, Morgan discovered she’s quite capable of clearing and washing off the table alone without whining. I got a little one-on-one training/talking time with each child as we worked together. McKay and Easton were able to work together rinsing and loading the dishes, and music was playing as they worked and laughed together.
As I head to bed tonight, my little heart is hopeful and happy rather than it’s usual Sunday night dread of a new week’s impositions on “my time.” Two things I hope to revamp are my master list of zones with kid-friendly images, and a date night with Ryan to update our version of Boyack’s “The Plan” – a master list of items they used to time the training of each child to know between ages 3-18.
One mountain at a time. I haven't done my German homework yet and if grades were given in this course, I'm afraid my marks would be rather abysmal! My brain hasn't been in it for the past month, I need a better routine system for study time too!
Power of Moms podcast "What Really Matters" - interview of the Eyres by their eldest daughter. Links to the following:
- "A money system that works" post and video of Eyre's system when they first pitched it to their kids over 20 years ago and how one daughter adapted it to her own family
- "Everyday Traditions" podcast and the following links:
-- "After School Routines" post and video
-- "The most important 9 minutes of the day with your kids" short podcast - Awesome!
-- "Your family identity" podcast
-- "Housework builds relationships" podcast with link to . . .
--- "Two Tips for a Clean and Happy Home" post about bite-sized household tasks and a video showing sink-cleaning certification of 5 yr old
My mother-of-ten friend's youtube video about "Chores and Rewards"
Another friend's post five years ago about chores by age.
“The Parenting Breakthrough” by Merrilee Boyack. She's a riot! I love her idea of "The Plan"! That's the kind of deliberate parenting I aspire to!