As we all know I am not the world's best housekeeper. It is always a battle just to keep my head above water and not get crushed under the avalanche of dirty laundry. Dan is always telling me - you need to DELEGATE to the kids. Ah, that magic word. Delegate. That might work in the military, my friend, but to these 3 little anarchists there is no such luck. I find myself winding up into a tirade that none of them listen to while I end up doing all the chores anyway and they sit back, eating popcorn and snickering at mommy's meltdown.
A friend of mine recently recommended a program to me called Accountable Kids. I secretly mocked it for a while, but then took a peek after she swore to me it was life altering. I've tried doing it all myself. I've tried chore charts, sticker charts, marble jar rewards, grounding, threatening, screaming and all out war. So far, my kids are perfectly irresponsible little hooligans. (Whom I love and adore). But I know how much I struggle with day to day maintenance and diligence and I worry often about passing on a legacy of disorganization and frustration.
Accountable Kids has been very promising for our family. It is for families of all kinds, normal to dysfunctional and all in between. The appealing part to me is that it works very well for families with ADHD. Keeping structure in our home is both imperative and nearly impossible. Myself and my 2 kids with ADHD find structure comforting but very hard to maintain. This sounds like a crazy infomercial, but truly this program is really working for us.
My kids get up in the morning and do their "core chores" (the chores every member has to do because they are a member of our family) and I don't have to remind them....at least not a fraction as much. After the first week of not running out the door screaming... "We're late....get in the car!!!!" and driving up to the school for an emotional meltdown because we forgot our homework...AGAIN.... I was impressed.
It basically goes like this. There are core chores that you can personalize for each child and for your needs as a family. For example...make bed, breakfast, brush teeth, homework.... They are broken into morning, afternoon and evening chores. After each block of chores is completed they get to cash it in for a "ticket." Ah these tickets are strangely magical. They seem to hold more value that even the money we dangle above their greedily little heads. Tickets are exchanged for rewards. Hot commodities in our house are "Screen time" (TV, video games, movies) and staying up late. This has also been the most effective way I have found in limiting their time glued to the brain sucking TV. For the first time in months, my kids have been creative, played together, used their toys!
Beyond core chores there are Extra Chores. These are the ones you are willing to pay for. When my kids do an extra chore they earn a "Bonus Buck". For us...to start... Bonus Bucks are worth 50 cents. But it can be adjusted to what works for your family. I will happily pay to have my dishwasher emptied and laundry put away and dog poop scooped. And the kids happily will do it for me for these magical little cards. For my kids, they also like to trade in bonus bucks for Tickets. Sometimes we let them. I love that this program is flexible to our needs.
I am an all or nothing person. So if I start a diet or a regimen of any sort and I veer from the path at all, I tend to give up. This Accountable Kids program has really helped me because each day starts over new.
The basic program is like this:
Each child has their own board with 5 pegs to hold cards.
1. The first peg holds core chores that the child will go through in any order you choose. When completed they flip that card over to the second peg that says "Finish". The child earns a Ticket that can be traded for rewards. They have the potential to earn 3 a day.
2. Extra Chores - these are chores you are willing to pay for. After they are completed your child earns a bonus buck that will be traded at the end of the week for money.
3. Best Behavior Cards - these are awarded when you see positive behavior you are trying to encourage. They can be used as tickets or put into a drawing at the end of the week for a prize. We use them as tickets. These are awarded sporadically and kids may not ask for them.
4. Privilege Pass - this is used to eliminate negative behavior. Target one negative behavior at a time (something that happens daily usually) and reward your child with a Privilege Pass. They can be used to purchase special privileges that can’t be bought with regular tickets. The privilege should be an incentive your child is willing to work for. We haven’t used this yet.
5. Special Date Card: for each day that the child earns 3 tickets (completes the whole program that day) they earn a star on the date card. After 10 stars the child earns a special date with a parent, grandparent, etc. I love this because it promotes bonding time which sometimes we need as parents too! It can be something big like going to a movie, or something simple like a 10 minute walk.
I know this sounds too good to be true. But I am thrilled with what it has done for our family. There are certainly still challenges and we are currently working on the QUALITY of the work they are doing, but we are leaps and bounds where we were a month ago. The house seems more peaceful and more creative. On a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest) I would rate this program a 5. For real. One of the main reasons is that it is structured but not overly strict. It allows you to tailor it to your needs as a family. Nothing worse that a parenting book or tool that makes you feel like a loser and have been doing it all wrong. I take my parenting ideals and knowledge and apply it with the help of the structure this program provides. Check it out. It's worth a look.