Points Project Update

points project from thishappymom.comIt’s Thursday, so I’m writing about our points project. It’s an ongoing series about trying to get my kids to do more chores, establish good habits, and become financially responsible.

After a week or so, the kids started pushing back about doing their chores.  It’s summer.  I was, quite frankly, surprised that it took more than two days for the novelty to wear off!  So I was prepared.  My husband and I had talked about it in advance and had a plan.  When asked to take out the garbage, one of my sweet children looked at me and said.   “No thank you mommy, I don’t need anymore points today.”  The other child chimed in with “I’d rather watch TV than earn points today.”

That was on a Friday.  On Saturday, we took our kids out to eat at one of those places that has a table-top gaming system. We’ve been there before, and the kids expected us to swipe a credit card on the top of the machine to buy them credits.  We won’t let them play while they eat, but it’s a way that hubby and I can squeeze in an uninterrupted conversation in an emergency.  We swiped.  Then we told the kids how many points they had just spent (100 points each).  That was almost a full week worth of points to my little slackers.  Guess what we learned?

In order to motivated, our kids need to be spenders, not just savers.

On Sunday, I declared a new rule effective the following day.  The kids were not happy, and they immediately appealed to their dad.  My husband backed me up 100% and even told them how lenient I was being compared to what it could be.

There will be no screens until you each earn 30 points for the day.

It worked, although not without conflict.  I don’t take points from them to turn on a TV (like I do when they buy a Happy Meal), I merely set a minimal earning requirement for the TV to be turned on.  In our house, “screens” covers TVs and video games and computers and phones and pretty much every other electronic device my kids can name.

Thirty points as a threshold was arbitrary.  I wish I had thought through the requirement a bit better.  It should have included a morning routine (get dressed, brush your teeth, make your bed) requirement and then been a little lower than 30 points.

The points threshold was hard on me.  I confess I like to check my Facebook page before getting out of bed.  Bad habit, I know.  My kids busted me.  They said I needed to do 30 points worth of stuff to earn MY screen time too.

The points threshold was really hard on me! I love summers because the boys crawl in bed with me and watch cartoons most mornings. Someday soon, they’ll be “too old” for morning cuddles with me.  Until then, I treasure the feeling of two warm sleepy boys pressed against me.

So I modified the rule.  The boys and I worked on the modified rule.   We talked about how much we like watching cartoons together as we wake up.  We talked about how I am not by nature a morning person.  My husband laughed at us.

There will be only 30 minutes of screen time allowed until you earn 30 points and have eaten breakfast.

During that precious 30 minutes, I check my messages and enjoy my boys.  After that, they earn their first 5 points by making my bed.  Most days, I’ve been awake for an hour or two before the boys stumble into my room.  I can generally start a load of laundry, brush my teeth, take my thyroid medicine, and have my morning devotional before the kids are awake.

What have you learned recently about getting your kids to do their chores willingly?

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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