What motivates you? Actually, what motivates your children? That is what we are trying to figure out here this week. It's not that things aren't ever getting done. It's the struggle to get it done. The reminding, telling, okay, nagging, to get it done. I don't want to do any of those things. It doesn't allow for building relationships when I feel like all I do is remind, tell and nag. It concerns me because we are getting to the point where the rubber meets the road. In two years, A1 will be at college and have to take care of things on her own; school work, job, room, clothing and her health care. Is she ready? Will she do it if I am not there or will it just slip?
I am admitting to the contribution that I made to the problem. I have sinned in not "training them up..." and am reaping the consequences of that. While they were little and not in school they both had to help with things in the house. They would pick up their toys, help fold the towels, put the Tupperware away. The sweeper didn't work at that age and actually not until they were bigger, the 30 foot hose on the central vac was hard enough for me to whip around let alone the kids. Then came public school. They were busy with homework every night and activities afterward. The toys weren't in the front room anymore, they were in their rooms, rooms that I cleaned because they didn't have time. They would help by picking up and put their dishes in the dishwasher if it had dirty dishes in it. I did, however, ask that they be responsible for cleaning the upstairs totally in the summer. Like most tweens and teens, adults too, without accountability it wasn't always done.
Now I'm trying to re-establish habits that I let slack off. I haven't had much success since they've been home this, headed into our 4th year. Mostly because of lack of consistency and follow-up. Also, feeling like they just don't have time to do it with all the school work that they have each day. My view has changed finally on that issue. Now instead of them picking up and me cleaning their room and the upstairs of the house which is the school room and loft with their bathroom and bedrooms, it's on their list. I've even included some of the kitchen duties and laundry. It's past time for them to learn and for me to be obedient in my job as their mother.
After Andy and I sat and talked, while the kids were at youth group, the family sat down with the kids and explained what we thought we needed to do. The example was taken from Sunday School Class and tied into the system we had come up with. We knew also that to motivate them for now and to encourage them to do a good job we would have to work in a reward system. So back to tokens for school and chores done, extra tokens for those monthly chores that have to be done, but are not part of daily/weekly living. The regular reward for getting things done before supper is TV time that night. The TV doesn't happen here until school is done typically and that will stay. We weren't quite sure what kinds of rewards they would want to earn with their tokens, besides some extra internet time and maybe purchasing some books for them for fun. So after their input the list expanded to includes the above plus the following: iTunes, Ice Cream Trip, Pick out Movie to watch by self on Netflix(parental approved), spending cash, swim time for laps, trip to the downtown library on a Saturday, A1 added for her-nail polish colors and/or getting her nails done, A2 wanted flight time, but that one will be a lot of tokens since that is very expensive. Tokens will be withheld for Mom having to remind, tell, nag and for yucky attitudes as we stressed we are to do our work as to the Lord. The biggest consequence for not getting schoolwork finished by Saturday Night is the ability to go to all youth group activities for the up-coming week will be taken away.
So that is their motivation, for now. I foresee a lot more praying throughout my day as I remember to keep my cool while checking things, if I get arguments about having to redo them. The hope is that they will take ownership of it fairly quickly and will not need the external rewards for all the work. I'm not saying that we won't occasionally surprise them with a thing here or there, but first we need to get to where a job well done is its own reward. That they will not only take responsibility, but ownership for the things expected of them. Y'all will be excited to know that writing for this blog is one my list for the "chores" to do every week. My motivation is that I'm doing what God expects me to do, "train up my children."