Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Saturday, January 23, 2010

How to Raise 7 Children in 753 Easy Steps....

Actually, I haven't really counted all of the rules and other governing guidelines we have tried (given up on, tried again, etc...) but I'm pretty sure it's nearing the thousands. We have a lot of personalities, each responding differently to our varied parenting tactics so we have learned to be flexible and creative. We do, however, have a few hard and fast rules that do not bend, pretty much no matter what....1)Use your good manners (I know I raised you better than that!); 2)Eat what I fixed for dinner or starve (it works....they will get hungry and eat it long before they pass out or die...I, however, might pass out from frustration first) and 3)wear your seatbelt (we had a very near-death head-on collision experience...a story for another post at another no one questions this one any more).
Over the years we have toyed with numerous ways to get our children to work with us as a team to achieve our housekeeping goals and their financial goals. We went many, many, manyyears without an allowance system but I think we have finally struck upon a system that is a hybrid of many others ideas that works for us. Maybe some part of it will help inspire you when you are a little short on parenting creativity.
Monday mornings (or Sunday evenings)we draw weekly chores from the chore jar (a converted oatmeal canister). These include vacuuming, dusting, trash removal, plant care, laundry helper, breakfast (or lunch or dinner)table set and clear, etc... While my husband was recuperating from a broken leg we had "Daddy's Assistant" so everyone had a chance to be Dad's special helper. Some chores never rotate. Everyone has their assigned day to help me prepare the meals and keep the kitchen clean and clean the bathroom. It works out with seven kiddos and seven days of the week...everything is divided evenly. We also have a weekly shopping helper who gets to go grocery shopping with me on Friday mornings (one on one time, breakfast at McDonald's, throw in a little learning about budgeting, fractions, weights and measures, etc...they are smarter without even realizing it).
To keep track of all of this, I made magnetized chore strips and as we draw for chores, the magnets go on our dry-erase board under the appropriate child's name. During the week, I draw a star next to each chore as it is completed. At the end of the week, when it is time to draw again, we tally up the stars. Five cents each for the younger children (ages 4, 6 and 9) and ten cents each for the 10 and 12 year olds. Our two teenagers have graduated to a flat rate of $10.00 per week as they also help little ones accomplish some of their tasks and babysit when I run an occasional errand.
We have what we call ARKs (Acts of Random Kindness)where the children get to report on each other (maybe once a week or so) about things they saw a someone do that was exceptionally sweet or above and beyond the call of sibling duty. We let the kids draw stars next to their brother's or sister's name.
Did I mention that if the kids don't do their basic chores (keeping their rooms clean, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, making their beds)they cancel all out of the stars they have earned during the week? I know this sounds really cold but in an effort to encourage joyful compliance we have one other incentive program called Daddy Dollars. We instituted Daddy Dollars because we don't think children should be payed for the basics. Instead, if they complete all of these tasks by breakfast(somewhere around 8:00 am)they receive one Daddy Dollar. These can be saved and redeemed for special things that cannot be otherwise purchased for money such as computer time, TV or movie time, forbidden treats such as a chocolate bar or a whole soda(normally they are allowed to have one it is split 2 or 3 ways). I can't take complete credit for this one. I found mention of a similar idea in a magazine article with a link () to the website where you, too can print your own family currency. It has worked pretty well and we are actually considering trying it in the evening to prevent those little spring-loaded children to stay in their beds!
Well, obviously, if I have been able to blog this long, somebody's doing something they probably shouldn't be! I had better go check.....hey kids!...what? you put what in the toilet!!??! Gotta go!!!!!

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