About halfway through the summer, I was stuck in a rut. George attended his first year of preschool last year, so this was my first summer having both kids constantly after not having both of them all the time.
The TV was getting a lot of attention, and my creativity was drying up quickly. I needed some kind of incentive to push George to do something other than beg me for more TV time. And so, I did what all good parents do when they need fresh ideas.
I visited Pinterest.
More specifically, I searched Pinterest for chore charts. But “chore chart” seemed a little…negative? Boring? Unexciting? But it has that alliteration thing going on, so I’m assuming that’s why the name stuck.
And so, our weekly chore chart was born! Each day, I asked George to complete the following:
- Get dressed
- Put PJs in hamper
- Pick Up Toys
- Try New Foods (2 times per week)
- Help Mama
- Do Something Nice
- Stay in Bed
I also gave him three 30-minute blocks of TV per day. This will sound like too much or not enough time, depending on your own guilt level concerning screen time and young minds.
It wasn’t the most challenging list, but it gave George incentive to generally behave. It also kept me accountable to limit his TV time. I ordered a big pack of “used” smiley-face stickers on Amazon (seriously. They were like $1 because the pack had been opened. Who sells used stickers online?), and I printed a new chart each Sunday.
He usually earned his “do something nice” smiley-face sticker when he gave his sister a tic-tac each time we got into the minivan (he gets gum, but she’d swallow it). I’m not sure if that actually counts as something nice, but at least his little 3-year-old brain registered someone else’s desire and tried to appease her sugar tooth.
“Stay in bed” didn’t always work, but after we started the chart, we had another tool in our belts to keep him under the blankets and behind the closed door. And he would wake up bouncing because he wanted to put his sticker in the right square.
And I felt that demanding more than two new foods per week from a 3-year-old would be too much. Maybe I’m just weak, but that just isn’t a battle I’m willing to endure. He did try salmon, quinoa, hash browns, etc. I know those don’t sound all that exciting, but it’s more the idea that he’s willing to try something he hasn’t seen before. Hopefully, we’ll graduate to more exciting options in the future.
So, what do you do when it’s the end of the week, and you have a chore chart loaded with smileys? Give a special surprise!
Since I’m fairly certain my love language is gift giving (at least in the outward show of love), I love that I have a special opportunity to give my son a present every week. Yes, I have to be careful about spoiling him, but the special surprises don’t have to be that exciting and it doesn’t have to be an object. As he’s currently enthralled with the periodic table of elements and U.S. presidents, he has received (over about a month) president flash cards, a periodic table puzzle, a presidents puzzle, and a periodic table of tiles to construct.
And, like any typical 3-year-old, he was thrilled!
OK, OK, maybe “typical” is going a bit far. Not every kiddo loves flash cards. However, I think if you pour into your kids’ interest, whatever that may be, it only fuels their response and willingness to play the game. Is this bribery? Naw. I think of it as incentive for good behavior.
Whatever you’d like to call it, it definitely helped our summer. And it made my children squabble a little bit less and play together a little bit more. Winner-winner, chicken dinner.
Have you tried a chore chart? How did it go?