1) I had gotten into a slump in eternal winter here in Iowa (Oct through Apr). I am a Vegas girl and used to eternal sunshine, which stinks when it's 100 degrees plus for four or so months, but sun is sun and it brings happiness. So, I was in the slump and decided to pull myself out. I started writing a weekly checklist. I wrote a few goals for the week, dinners and snacks to prepare, our daily activities and things I needed to do with Blake and each child. Then I wrote a daily list off of the weekly list. It really has kept me motivated and focused each day. I don't get to everything every day, but the point is that I am trying. I also don't print off any cutesy "to do" sheets and put them in a binder. Here's why. I don't have time and I don't want to make the time. Cutesy sheets don't make work more motivating to me. In fact, keeping the binder together is more trouble than it's worth, in my book. I have a spiral notebook where I jot everything down. Not pretty but it gets the job done. I don't begrudge cute to do lists, but they just aren't my thing.
2) I have taught the kids different jobs over the last few years, but I was lacking consistency. I had a hard time keeping up with things and making sure they knew what their part was. I tried a few job charts. They didn't work out for our family. One day, I saw a fun idea on pinterest where kids roll a dice for their job. Each job has a number 1-6 and whichever number they roll, that is their job for the week. We have a list for kitchen jobs and one for house jobs. For us, it's wash dishes, load dishwasher, clear table, wash counters, sweep and we just added "you pick" for number 6. The house jobs are up bathroom, down bathroom, family room, vacuum, toy room and you pick. Sometimes I switch them up. But the main thing has been the kids "roll" their own jobs, so they really can't complain. Nobody gets the same job two weeks in a row either. We have been doing this method for over a month now and it has been successful! They actually remind me to roll for jobs on Sunday nights. Now, don't go thinking jobs are always easily and nicely done. Just tonight, my 9 and 6 year olds had complete meltdowns while my 4 year old excitedly cleaned the bathroom. But they eventually did their work. And the meltdowns inspired us to add a new rule to the cleaning responsibilities. Crying equals another job. That solved the problem pretty quickly.
3) My last idea came yesterday. I was frustrated because my kids always wait for me to get out of bed in the morning to make their breakfast. Half the time I end up making it because they are being slackers or I am too tired to make them do it. So, I came up with the "Accountability" chart. Not sure if this is the appropriate name or not, but they are pretty excited about it. The idea is every time they "self start" on ANYTHING they will get an X on their chart. When they got 20, 30, 50, 100 X's, they get a reward. The rewards range from staying up late to ice cream cones to a "YES" day to getting a dollar bill. Now, when I say "self start", I mean doing anything without me asking them or reminding them. Brushing teeth, cleaning room, doing homework, making a sandwich. I don't care what the activity is as long as they are doing it of their own will. And they are in charge of their X's, as well. We are on the honor system here. I am pretty ok with that. I told them, "You can choose to do it on your own and be rewarded, or I will keep bugging you to do it and not be rewarded. Either way, you are doing it." The consequence is no X. There will be no taking away of X's. I hand drew them each a sheet of boxes for them to fill in while we were outside on this glorious day. It isn't pretty, but that's not the point.
You know, I am no expert on parenting. I am still floundering a lot of days, but these are things that have worked for our family. The kids are learning responsibility, accountability and I am keeping myself on a schedule. They are learning that work won't kill them and will actually help them to be stronger and more disciplined and gain confidence! These are all things that we want to instill in our children and if I have to put a few systems into place to get things going, all the better. I love this quote from Gordon B. Hinckley, "An understanding of the meaning of hard work. If there is anything that's needed in this world, it's more work, and you are learning how to work here, to get up every morning, to get out and work in the face of discouragement. The harder you work, the more you love the work."