Yesterday, Sunday the 26th of June, was awesome. Sunday’s are usually pretty great anyway, but yesterday was exceptional. Besides the weekly traditions of a pancake breakfast, church, and awesome home made burgers and chips for dinner, my husband was an absolute angel. Not only did he make lunch for the kids, AND me, he served me on the couch, did the dishes, and then let me have a nap! How wonderful he is!
After nap time I played with Bridie and her new strawberry shortcake dolls that she got as an early birthday present from her Aunty Elsa, whilst I had my favourite iced coffee. Then I had quality outside time with Ava, pushing her around in the little red car, before the girls and I finished the Teddy that we had been sewing. (More on that in a blog to come.) The sewing machine threatened to destroy my good mood, and tested my patience beyond anything my kids have ever done, but we persevered, and I won. (Take that sewing Machine!)
But by far the best thing about yesterday, was the fact that Tim and I spent a good portion of the day stealing lollies from our kids. And not just any lollies. Skittles.
But before you think I am a truly terrible person and mother, perhaps I should explain.
I have had enough of tidying up after my kids. It’s one thing to have a baby that crawls around, randomly dropping whatever it is she holds in her hand, or a toddler that get’s distracted by the smallest things (like a bug), but it’s another thing entirely when my older kids are lazy. It’s not unusual to go into the bathroom and find a nappy next to the bin, instead of in it. Or the clothes on top of the washing basket. Or the tooth brushes and toothpaste lying beside the toothbrushes holder. Or someone’s smelly poo just sitting in the toilet waiting for me to flush it.
My kids, particularly my older girls, have become experts at doing half a job. Which of course leaves the other half of the job to yours truly.
And I am over it.
So I was trying to think of something that would encourage them to complete the whole task, but also give them an appreciation of just how much Tim and I do, when they neglect their responsibilities.
Enter my inspired idea.
A lolly jar each, filled with two bags of skittles. At the end of the week, whatever skittles are in their respective jars, are theirs to eat. Simple right?
Because for every job that Tim and I finish that they have not done, we get to steal one of their lollies and put it in our jar. That means every towel that doesn’t make it back to the bathroom, every pair of knickers that lies on the bedroom floor, and every-time someone leaves the door open and Ava escapes, I get a skittle.
Like I said. Awesome.
Now I don’t like to teach a skill without teaching the reason why, and I also don’t believe in bribing my kids, but this exercise fits my goal, without compromising on my standards. For starters it’s not a bribe, it’s a goal incentive. What’s the difference? A bribe is used to induce a behaviour. ‘If you’re good at the shops, I’ll buy you a treat.’ A bribe does nothing to promote relationship or respect, but instead teaches self-centredness. The child will only do what they’re told if they get something for it.
A goal incentive encourages a skill. It promotes a reward when the desired level of achievement is reached. It pushes kids to do their best, and it builds relationships because of the joy that comes when we reward them for their hard efforts.
Since being tidy is definitely a skill, this fits the bill. Their efforts will be rewarded in a commensurate measure.
But it doesn’t end there. What is the purpose of being tidy? Well in the last school holidays, we focused on ‘others first.’ The kids got to put a marble in a jar every time they put someone before themselves, and had to take one out for selfishness. The aim was to fill our jar with marbles by the end of the week.
Well this holidays we have taken it a step further, because part of putting others first, is considering those that come behind. And when we make a mess, or just neglect to pick up after ourselves, we show no consideration to the others who are coming after us.
The beauty of this system is that for every skittle the kids lose, they gain an appreciation for just how much I do instead, and how their neglect shows no thought to me.
So our holidays have started with a bang. They thought it would be easy; their jars were full and they couldn’t imagine that they would lose that many lollies. But one day has shown them just how much they forget, and reality is starting to set in. Taylah has even shown some concern that Tim and I might make ourselves sick if we get too many lolls!
I am definitely anticipating a full jar by next Sunday.
Which might make that one, even better than yesterday!