Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dinner Conversation

"Dad, you want to know what's weird about [friend]?"
"No, not really."
"Why not?"
"It's not nice. You wouldn't like it if [friend] was telling her ads what was weird about you."

Now... It's either knowing our how our daughter's mind works, or maybe it's all children at this age, but we had a split-second to anticipate what was coming next, but not long enough to steel ourselves (or maybe we knew what was coming and didn't want to steel ourselves.)

She got a puzzled look on her face and said "But there's nothing weird about me."

To which we burst out laughing.

She looked perturbed and exasperated and gave her mom - sitting next to her at the dinner table - a cute elbow in the arm in protest.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chores and Responsibilities

Cross posting on Dad2Be and tvjames x blog.

A friend from work described this to me, so we've been working towards it for some time now. We're finally hitting the next big phase, so I thought I'd describe the process we're using for getting children involved in helping around the house.

The premise boils down to two distinct and different sets of tasks: Responsibilities and Chores.


These are day-of-the-week specific tasks assigned to a specific child. They start out simple and progress with complexity and number of tasks per day as the child gets older and more able to help. These tasks are unpaid - they are responsibilities, things that are expected of the child as a member of the family, their way of helping out.

In the beginning, the child has only responsibilities. There is a carrot - something that they want to do. For Rachel, it's television/computer-time. In order to get to watch TV or play on the computer, she must first complete her responsibilities. And since we don't allow "screen time" after dinner in our house (except for movie nights), she has incentive to get them done early as that means more time for what she wants to do. (There is also a limit on how much screen time she can have - no getting up at 5 am and doing everything and then watching TV for 12 hours.

Currently, her responsibilities include things like:
* Make bed (before lunch) - six days a week
* Take down laundry to laundry room (before lunch) - daily
* Empty bathroom garbage (before dinner) - twice a week
* Remove sheets from bed and take to laundry room (before lunch) - Saturday
* Bath or shower (before dinner) - three times a week (don't worry, she has extras when she needs them. It might be four to start with, can't recall.)
* Put away any folded laundry - a few times a week

Currently there's 4-5 tasks each day.

In order to watch TV or play on the computer, the responsibilities must be done. In the case of ones required before lunch, they may be done after lunch but before screen time. There are a few exceptions, where we may decide to do her bath after dinner, in which case, she still gets to do screen time, but she's very aware that there will be a bath later in her immediate future.

The "before lunch" requirements are new, and they play into the chores.


Chores are non-child specific in most cases, except where skill level exceeds the younger children. Right now, only Rachel has chores and responsibilities. They are to be completed on specific days. They are paid. But, you can only do chores if you've completed that day's responsibilities.

Some chores include:
* Pull 25 weeds - a few times a week
* Help with dishwasher - a few times a week
* Sort laundry - a few times a week (the laundry goes into large bins by person, but then it needs to be sorted, folded and put away)
* Set table for dinner - daily
* Clear table after dinner - six nights a week (not Saturday)

There are a fixed number of chores, and as more children get to the age where they can do chores, there will be some competition as to who can get their responsibilities done first and move on to the paid chores.

Currently, there's 4-7 opportunities each day to make money. We're still working out the relative value of each. Most are 5 cents, then 10 cents and a few worth a quarter. Saturday is very light on responsibilities and very heavy on chores. It's a great way to rack up the cash at the end of the week.

Right now, there is $3.65 cents worth of chores on the list. If she completes all of them (that means all responsibilities and all chores), she gets paid double and she receives a marble. Marbles are from a different behavior penalty/reward system borrowed from SuperNanny and accrue towards ice cream at Dairy Queen.

I can picture once-a-month chores like washing the car or quarterly chores like Lysol-ing door handles and light switches, but those are obviously too challenging at this point.

But even if we are supervising her work, it does allow us to do other things and it is encouraging to see her helping out. She is so far hot and cold on the whole thing, so we'll see what happens when she's competing with Ben for chores and money.

The Chart

There are two charts on the refrigerator. One identifies the responsibilities, the other the chores. We cross off each responsibility as its completed. If she completes a chore, we circle the payout. If the day ends with chores incomplete, we cross off the payout.

Eventually Ben will have his own responsibilities chart as well.


On Saturdays, before dinner, it's payday. We count up all the chores completed that week, and we divide into three groups - 10% her to church and put in the offering, 40% for long-term savings (we hang on to, to later put in the bank for her) and 50% she gets in her little hands to take upstairs to put in her piggy bank. Last week was her first week (and a partial week at that), and I paid in pennies, so I'll probably need to buy a few rolls of pennies, and some larger coins if she gets hooked on it. After I had the three piles of coins in front of her, I put in enough extra pennies to round each one up to the nearest 5 cents.

This wasn't a big math lesson yet (I breezed through the percentages), but hopefully there'll be some in that as well as we go along.


We have, since birth, given each child a $20/month allowance as an automatic transfer from our checking account to their savings account. At some point, we may revisit how that works, but right now from time-to-time, Rachel may ask for something at the store. If we think it's ok, then she is allowed to have it and we transfer money back out of her savings account and into our checking account to cover it.


This is not my idea, I got it from a friend at work who had attended a money seminar at his church and learned of it there.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Philip Johnny Bob and Delores

In addition to "Polar Bear" (aka "Pohlie") Rachel's recently grown very attached to two of her other stuffed animals - a WebKinz elephant she's named "Philip Johnny Bob" and a little infant pink security blanket (maybe 6-7" square with a little pink bear head that squeaks in the center) named "Delores."

Not sure why. But calling either of them by the wrong names (especially Philip Johnny Bob, just because it's fun) sets her off on a stern warning to us about their correct names and she gets indignant that we seem to be unable to remember them. (And forget about calling her Rachel Johnny Bob.)

And I just heard her telling Lori that Philip Johnny Bob is a girl.