Keeping 'Em Out of Trouble


Use a Marble Jar to Count Chores With Your Kids

Back to school - back to basics - it's choretime!

It's back-to-school time, and back to routines and schedules. It might be a good time to introduce (or re-introduce!) the concept of chores and responsibilities in your house, too! momstown Mississauga owner Sarah is the mom of twins, so she gets double the chores done at her house (right?... well, read on to find out!)

I grew up in a household where I had to do chores and it's a life lesson I really want to share with my kids. Helping around the house as well as having a positive attitude when you are asked to do something teaches responsibility. It's also part of creating a solid home environment where kids know what is expected of them and where they can learn the importance of working together with the rest of the family.

Now of course, the chores and expectations have to be age-appropriate (for a great list of ideas, click here). With toddlers, you can get them to help pick up their toys or throw items of clothing into the hamper. As your kids get older, you can introduce other helpful household activities like putting food in the garbage, sweeping or helping plant things in the garden. Patience is a must. If the chore is something new, it is important to teach your kids how to do it—and you might need to show them a few times. From making their own beds to starting the dishwasher, show the skills you want your children to learn. In the beginning their efforts might take a little longer and might not be enough to get the job done 100% (try to resist redoing it later!) but they are still learning valuable lessons and hopefully having some fun at the same time. It's the effort that counts!

There are varying opinions out there on how to reward kids for helping out around the house. Some parents opt to award stars or stickers on a helper chart. Others go the more traditional allowance route - which doesn't always work for small kids who have no real understanding of the value of money. Money however can be a great motivator for older children who might want to save for a new bike or toy. In our house, we have adopted what I call the "Marble Jar" system. A good friend shared this idea with me, so now I wanted to share with all of you!  

Each of my twins has their own jar. They are rewarded for doing good; things such as sharing, being nice, doing what is asked the first time and helping in our daily lives, loading their dishes into the dishwasher, clearing the table, putting laundry in the basket unasked etc. I usually award one marble per good deed or specific chore.  Once the jar is full, they can cash in for a treat!  Something fun, like going for ice cream or a dollar store trip where they can pick out an item. It has been really a good way to motivate them to work together and teach them to appreciate how much work goes into our daily lives!

Some days the kids are going to be less enthusiastic about doing chores than others (I think we all have those days even as adults). I have found when that happens, if I offer a choice of 'age appropriate' activities where they can help, it can make all the difference. Make a list of everything that might need to be done (or write them out individually on little cards) and let them pick one or two that they would like to do (either randomly without seeing what is on the cards, or taking turns choosing based on preference). If you have more than one child, you can get them to work together on a chore. This can help them learn more about teamwork and that being part of a team can get  things done faster! I wanted to add too that I do not ever take the marbles away. Removal of marbles is not used as a punishment -they are strictly to reinforce good behaviour and never feature in any accountabilities for mischief or misdeeds.

Do you have any fun things you do with your kids to reward good behaviour or being helpful around the house? What activities do your kids help with around your home?