Summer Jobs

We often establish new routines to promote responsibility in our family.  We've talked about what each child should be responsible for as far as daily tasks and chores.  I can't say that this has been flawless.  In fact, I can't really say that it's been remotely simple!  We've discussed and ruled out monetary allowances because we can't seem to justify paying the kids for doing things that should just be part of "pulling their weight" in a big family.  We haven't really had specific assigned tasks...not for very long anyway.  For a year or more, it has been the responsibility of the child whose week it is to clean the kitchen, and each other child has a task to complete as well...this worked well until a few months ago when for some unknown reason, the kids all decided to assign their own tasks and we didn't object.  It was better when they were routine rather than random. 

I think that we will have to just plan to modify often.  No one really likes to scrub toilets or fold clothes or clean their rooms or even feed the chickens...especially in the winter.  To be honest, I don't really like to remind them 100 times to do any of those things either, but even more, I don't like the way the bathroom looks (or smells) due to wild boys, or washing the same pile of clothes over and over because it's easier to throw them in the laundry room than to put them away in drawers.  I can't stand to walk into their rooms and wonder where the floor is or go to check the chickens only to find we've been out of feed for three days, but no one told me!  This only sends me into a frenzy of battling expecting too much vs. forming irresponsible children and ultimately irresponsible adults. 

They are constantly being grounded from something, losing some privelege, tacking on extra chores.  I feel like I am the Nazi chore fun to be had in this house!  It is not a position I enjoy!  Last summer we had a chalk board that had daily tasks listed that needed to be completed by noon if they wanted any priveleges the rest of the day.  It worked pretty well.  This year we decided to implement the same idea, but we would also treat it more as a job, so they would get paid.  We came to this conclusion partly due to the fact that the kids don't really ever have money, so we are challenged to teach them to save, tithe, spend wisely, etc.  Oh...and because I'm tired of buying crayons and socks and gloves when they lose theirs.  How do you lose socks anyway??

It sounded like a good idea.  I say "sounded".  I still think it is, but this first week of summer has been brutal!  Again, maybe I expect way too much, but I have such a hard time when 4:00 rolls around and their 30 minutes of chores haven't been started.  "Can we go swimming?"  "Are your chores done?"  "Yes"  Typically, they are not, so the cycle of them asking for something, me denying it, them whining, me getting irritated, and the chore still not being done begins.  By the end of the day, I'm exhausted from this cycle, and completely deflated, because I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel.  There is a second factore to this challenge, and that is that for some reason, there has only been animosity between all of them since the end of school.  This isn't uncommon occasionally, but everday for over a week is sending me over the edge. 

SOOOOOO...I will try something new once again:  the money they can earn in a week will be paid in advance.  Not to them, but to a designated jar.  Each time they fight or say something derogatory to a sibling, whine, complain, or do something part way while pretending that they completed it, OR, have to be asked more than once, money will come out of their jar and go into the "FINES" jar.  Yes, they will be fined.  I know, this is not positive reinforcement, but at this point, they need to phsically see how they are spending their money--and they will not get it back.  There will be a jar to collect money for positive comments made...even if they're not genuine, at least they're not deragotory, and that's a start.  My window sill is littered with jars, and it is so ridiculous.  I'm sure someone has written a chapter in a book about this...if not, I might!  This is new territory...and I pray that we don't have to modify immediately!  I haven't pulled out the prison stripes yet.  :)