Inspired by an article in Family Fun magazine, I developed a fun motivator for bedtime cleanup that really works.  Before, there would be lots of complaining, dilly-dallying and nagging.  Now the house is clean every night before bed and the job is done quickly!  Here's how it works.

We have a jelly jar to fill up with colorful glass gems (which we call "beads" though they have no holes).  Each evening at clean up time, we set a timer for fifteen minutes.  For every minute left on the timer (rounded to the next whole minute up) they get to put a bead in the jar.  A bonus of five beads is awarded if the whole house is clean before we even start the timer (motivating clean up before the evening even arrives!).  A penalty of three beads is subtracted if the parental inspection reveals that the house is not clean despite the boys' statement that it is.

The reward for a full jar of beads is a special treat selected by the boys.  The most recent one was to watch a VeggieTales movie.

This works so well for our family.  Now, even if it takes the whole fifteen minutes and they get no beads, the job is done in that short time - in the past sometimes it would take until they were falling into bed and still not be done, really.  The past several days they have gotten most of their beads and even the bonus twice!  The jar is now half full again though it was reset only a few days ago!  The house is noticeably cleaner (ask my Mom who just visited!)  I know I'm using a lot of exclamation points, but I am so happy that this is working out.  Everyone benefits and it is turning out ot be really fun.  (We even get some math in as Noah counts out the reward for the evening and Jonathan divides them as evenly as possible for the three kids to place in the jar.)  (:

Posted by Heather Daley on September 25, 2010, 6:32 pm | Read 2547 times
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It's true! It's awesome! (I'm using exclamation points, too.) I've seen Before: the weary, dragged-out, moving through molasses, this is child slavery attitude, and now the After. Unbelievable enthusiasm, and they do a quick and reasonably thorough job. (Inspector Dad doesn't let them get away with much, though he may be of a differing opinion.)

Once when dinner was on the table but Jon was still busy at the computer, Noah suggested, "Let's clean up while we're waiting!" And one night we had been busy till quite late, and expected to have a cranky cleanup (at least on Grandma's part), only to discover that Jonathan had done the whole thing himself, earlier in the day!

And no, this doesn't stop them from having fun and making messes, getting Legos and craft projects everywhere. But it does effectively stop the messes from snowballing to the point where the job looks impossible, even to me.

It's remarkable.

Posted by SursumCorda on September 25, 2010, 7:05 pm

Thanks for the bead jar idea. We've been using it for the past several days as motivation for Hannah and Daniel to clear their own places after meals and snacks. That's one area where I felt like I was a broken record. Today, I went into the kitchen and actually thought maybe they hadn't gotten a snack afterall because there was no mess. It turns out they had just put everything away!

Posted by Kelly on October 6, 2010, 5:47 pm

Hooray! I'm so glad to pass on something that works for others, too. (:

Posted by joyful on October 6, 2010, 7:41 pm
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