Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Can I go home now?

I am having extreme motivation issues today – at least, when it comes to all the stuff I “should” be doing. You know, cleaning up from our painting, putting furniture back where it goes, folding and putting away the laundry I didn’t do yesterday because I was painting…

Today was one of those days when all the stuff I wanted to do was derailed by things I had to do, all of which took longer than anticipated and then hey – here I am, at 6:00 in the evening with no dinner on the table (or even a plan beyond, “Hmm, maybe PB&J?” in my head) and my entire !!KING SIZED!! bed covered in clean laundry that needs me to do…uh…something or other with it.

Yessir, it’s been that kind of day. I walked the kids to school this morning, and then Captain Adventure was being high maintenance and my shoulder is killing me AND THEN I had a teacher conference this afternoon for Danger Mouse in which it was revealed that she has ‘attention’ issues and can’t do first grade math or writing (she is in second grade, hel-LO), SO!, instead of doing any of the things I had planned for today, I was instead getting together Certain Tools to help her learn her math and spelling and putting together our new Reward Binder, because I am a shameless, terrible mother and I don’t care whether or not it is sound child-rearing practice, rewards work in this house.

So I’ve got the play money (I want them to be learning basic economics from this – I’ve got coins from pennies to quarters, $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills and purses for them to keep them in), which they will receive as incentives for things like…doing extra chores, getting perfect scores on homework and tests, acts of extra-good citizenship and the like. There is a base “salary” they receive for simply doing what they ought to do (enough to buy a single treat weekly from the treat basket), and then basically they can earn “bonuses” for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Aren’t I terrible? I know a lot of experts are saying you shouldn’t do that and kids should just do it because it’s what they ought to do but hey – I know that when somebody says, “And also, if you finish this project on time and under budget, we will give you an extra $500…”, it adds a certain heat under my posterior.

They’ve got everything from getting ice cream to trips to Disneyland, and the dollar values are roughly equal to what those things actually cost. $30 to go to Build-A-Bear, and $25 for Chuck E. Cheese, $20 for a toy and $15 for the zoo. They can save up $200 and go to Disneyland! Or, they can just give me their play money and I’ll deposit it into their real-life savings accounts, so they can earn real-life interest to buy a car someday.

Hopefully, it will introduce them to real-life economics, and how hard it is to earn those pleasures they currently take for granted. But mostly – I just want to have a way to get them to do things I otherwise have to yell, scream, nag and carry on about. This is why I am a terrible mother – this isn’t really about education, it’s about finding a way to make things easier for my-selfish-self.

Oh well. There goes my Mother of the Year award. Or, wait, did I lose that already for giving them PB&J for dinner? Or perhaps for stuffing an older sister’s pair of sneakers with tissue because I couldn’t find the younger sister’s actual shoes and was in a hurry? Or…well, the list does go on a bit, here. Let’s just move on, shall we? Yes, do let’s…

So I’m not getting most of the things I wanted to do today done, but I am finding all kinds of time to work on Captain Adventure’s sweater (well, by ‘all kinds of time’, I mean ‘almost half an hour, when I should have been doing something else’) and sit here reading blogs and news articles and also staring at my yarn stash thinking, Hmm, that would make a really lovely hat…I’ve got enough of THAT for a sweater and THIS would make a good shawl and I wonder if I’ve got enough of that for a long scarf?

I have a nice lady from California Closets coming tomorrow to give me heart-failure a quote on my big old walk-in closet. This is a line item on my list of Den Maintenance that makes me squeal the way my girls did when they saw the new paint on their walls: oh, I’ve done Rubbermaid and I’ve done wire shelves and I’ve done all kinds of goofy things in that closet, but it remains one of the worse-used spaces in the Den.

I’d like to tone down the Crazy for her, but I just can’t motivate myself to get ON with it. I just can’t.

Also, while I was moving furniture around I slammed into a toy chest with a truly astonishing lack of grace (and awareness of where my body was) and now have a swollen area the size of my whole hand on my thigh. It hurts like billy-oh, and it already turning a lovely shade of dark purple.

Right before the husband and I are supposed to go on a romantic four-day weekend together, courtesy of Saint Grandma and Grandpa.


OK, OK. I’m going back to the laundry. I can’t let my mother see this house, not in this state. She’s coming Thursday. I can totally get this whipped into shape by then, right?

Right after I spend some time reorganizing my stash, because the Yarn Monster got at it a couple days ago while I was painting and now it is all organized by color rather than fiber, then color and while I’m in there surely it would be perfectly natural if I spent some time cross-referencing fibers to potential patterns, right?

(There are 1443 people ahead of me in line for Ravelry . I expect to completely vanish from real life when I get that invitation for about, oh, two years or so.)

Onward!! To the goofing off! organizing!!


Sunny said...

I think your reward system is awesome. I understand some of the arguments against, but the reality is that you are teaching them real life and in real life people work for rewards. I mean really, we don't go to work for fun, right?

Anyhow, on to the yarn stash. I have a question for you... do you keep your yarn out or is it in ziplocks? I desperately want my yarn to be out, but I am worried about moths and dogs and cats. Though the dogs and cats are easily disuaded by the closet doors.

Amy Lane said...

Your rewards system is so much better than mine, which sort of amounts to, "Did you tick me off today? Did yo u do your chores w/out me turning purple? Have you helped when I asked? Then sure, it's yours...)

Anonymous said...

I have always considered a rewards system no different to the commission structure by which my husband gets paid. If he were to sit around on his arse all day, he would bring home barely enough to keep us alive, but because he is a very good salesman and more than willing to bust his hump on a daily basis, we do quite nicely, thank you.
Similarly, if my boys sit around on their butts and do none of the jobs they are assigned (nothing terribly onerous - they have to keep their rooms tidy, and make their beds), then they live in squalor, with a shrieking harpy for a mother, and have no fun into the bargain. If they do their jobs, then they know where their toys are, the Nag-o-tron 5000 stays off their backs, and they get treats like trips to their favourite park, or lunch in a cafe when we shop. For extra incentives, if 7yo does particularly well at school, they might get a trip to the zoo or the cinema, and we always make sure they understand that said trip is a reward for doing well.
I feel it's better to teach them that rewards follow hard work, rather than send them out into the world with a sense of entitlement, only to get a very rude surprise when their boss won't baby them and hand out treats for nothing.

Kris said...

I like the reward structure, in that they aren't being handed a wad of actual cash and you still have control over what they spend it on to prevent complete stupidity on their parts. If it is any consolation, I fantasize about the day that my oldest is old enough to do the dishes.

Anonymous said...

We are all about rewards here - after all, isn't that what a paycheck is? Our kids have to earn their allowances. They get "points" for doing their chores, schoolwork, etc. and can also lose points for leaving things undone, bad attitudes and so forth. We figure this is a small-scale introduction to real life. Since nobody in this house is related to the Hiltons, they are going to have to work for what they want and they might as well learn now.

Anonymous said...

Huh, at the parenting class my DH and I took, we were told to set up a token economy, a consistent reward system, which is not a bribe, or anything like that, because it's not something that changes day by day. "If you don't stop that, you will lose a token," is much better than, "If you don't stop that, Mommy will turn into a screaming harpy." And "You will get a token for every fifteen minutes you sit quietly during dinner," is a much better way to get your kid to behave than threatening dismemberment (not that I've ever done that, (cough) this is completely hypothetical). I think your system is great!

Anonymous said...

Wow, honey, I feel so much calmer about my ridiculously unrelenting work schedule just reading about a typical day in your life. Not that that makes you feel any better. Bruise, shmooze - enjoy that four-day weekend; you deserve it.

MadMad said...

Oooooh! I like that rewards system, complete with treat basket. We give out an allowance, (and, like you, extras for extra chores that I just can't stand doing any more, like sock sorting) but because we're in the 'burbs, there's nothing really to spend the money on for them to know what they have. I like that basket idea!

Science PhD Mom said...

The reward system sounds fantastic! And hey, if PB&J dinners are not a good thing, then surely I am the worst of the worst mothers for offering cold cereal at times for dinner! What can I say, it was on sale, the daughter was hungry and tired, we were tired...yada yada yada.

Um, if you actually get a good system going for organizing your house, can you let me know? Because at this point I'd pay about a bazillion dollars to someone who actually understands how 2 year olds live and can come up with a system that can cope with THAT kind of strewn-about mess and clutter.

Rena said...

I use the financial reward system as well and it works great. Not only does my daughter learn about money, but she also learns about EARNING money and budgeting and all that sort of thing. And she's actually better at saving than I (helps she doesn't have to buy her own food).

Helen said...

First -- since I didn't say so yesterday, WOW on that room!
I daren't let my girls see THAT!

But the reward system you have in place seems perfectly reasonable to me. We give our girls allowance. Each year they have more/bigger chores, and get more allowance -- which they then get to do whatever with.
Your kids, get play money which you then seem to get to trade for real stuff (but that trade means that you needn't cough up actual money until they've earned the whole treat AND you have some control over what they do with it.).

Studies show that rewards work better than punishments (which would be why I"m still grounding kids? -- oh wait no, that's withholding rewards, that's it)).

Besides, as others have said, you're teaching reality! Brilliant I say!

NeedleTart said...

There is an award winning teacher out there who does the exact same thing (minus the real life deposits). His students "earn" money by working in the class room and earn money towards field trips (from Seattle to Washington DC). He is lauded for his success with the forgotten children who are placed in his class.