Of sticks, jars, money and many things..

First to give credit where it is due, I got the original idea for this super awesome thing which works for us here.
It was a day of joy and gladness when I discovered it, thanks again :)
And here are my adaptations:
First instead of colouring the tips, we got coloured craft sticks and let each kid pick a colour. 'Cos they are pretty. And I'm very practical like that. Actually it does make it easier to spot when you add in the allowance earning sticks (which you will learn about later- patience, grasshopper). Can you guess which jar belongs to the princess?

We painted one end with a white tip. We wrote everything I ever nag them about on a daily basis on a separate stick. For my four year old, I drew a little picture too.

(The red sticks in the older boys' jars are for things which are not daily requirements or voluntary things that they wanted regular reminders on-like writing in their journals and updating their cute little blog).

SO: every day we start with all the sticks white-side down. When I hear the first stirrings of a fight each morning I say faux-brightly, (in that irritating way moms do when they are about to make their children suffer), "has everyone done their sticks?". And then they groan, and shoot dagger "now look what you've gone and done" expressions at the sibling they were about to fight with, and go and do them.

It's great!

Before we go out each day to do something fun, all the sticks must be white-side up (within reason). I no longer have to tell people to do their hair, or brush their teeth, or make their beds, or do their chore of the day or practice their instruments. It is all neatly encompassed under one cheerful and easily spoken nag "have you done your sticks yet?" It has really made the kids a lot more self-sufficient and has the added blessing of everyone experiencing less exposure to my lecturey voice. Our chore wheel has remained in use, since one of the sticks instructs, "do your chore on the wheel". The first person to get there each day gets to be Vanna White and spin the wheel.

And then there is the ever debated, agonized over allowance issue. Ok here are my basic stipulations regarding allowance:

1. I want it to be a reasonable facsimile of how real life works. You do work, you get paid. You don't do work, you do not get paid. You choose. If you do a lot of work, you get paid more (in a perfect world eh?), if you do a little work, not so much.

2. I do not want to pay my children for things that they need to do for the privilege of living in this house. Being part of a family means you don't get paid for making your bed. Fah gosh sakes.

3. I want the work=money connection to be easily apparent to them.

4. I want to pay them for stuff that we actually need done. I want their work to truly be of value.

So this is what we've come up with. We have a stick jar devoted entirely to money-earning type jobs. It is creatively named: $Job Jar$

On each stick there is a job description and a monetary value attached to the job.

They can select the job they want to do (or don't want to as the case may be, but hey, money talks). Once the job is done they take the stick and put it white side up in their individual jar.

We take the stick(s) out of their jar, and replace it with the payment. The job stick then goes back into the job jar. We keep it white side up if the job is not required (don't want two people sweeping the deck within minutes of each other) and turn it white side down once we need that particular job done again.

I also love that I don't have to come up with a job on the spot when they decide they need some cash to support their Webkinz habit, and I can also add jobs as I see the need for them which fulfills that whole "work of value" requirement.

Our kids then take the money deposited in their jars, and deposit it into their money banks (which have separate boxes for tithing, savings, spending etc. And it's really theirs to handle from there on out.) I have a friend who keeps her kids money separated in jars where they can see it grow and how it is distributed, which I think is a nice incentive-nothing like seeing your nest egg grow.

One thing my accountant dad did when I was growing up, which I thought was quite brilliant was to give each kid a little ledger book. We had to account for every penny of our pocket money each month (keeping a running balance) before we got paid again. We could spend it how we liked, we just had to be able to account for it. It was rather stressful for the math impaired but it was a very valuable exercise. My older two boys are old enough now for us to institute this I think. I love this as a teaching tool because the number one rule of successful money management is knowing where your money is going. (Or so all the books tell me).

Over my near decade of parenting I have come to the conclusion that nothing works forever. No matter how brilliantly it may at first. You really do have to switch things up fairly regularly it seems. Really, the stick concept it just a graduation from the story-board concept we were using before:

with an easy way to keep track and no stickers or star charts or things to check off.

But sticks..sticks are what are working for us right now. Hope this helps someone. What works for you?

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Mrs. Organic said...

I like your adaptations - great idea!

Kelsey said...

I have to say that is a brilliant idea! Seriously I love it and am going to try it in our house! Awesome. I love your blog!

Mandy said...

Sounds like a great idea. I am new to the whole "chore" list because I only have 1 four-year-old. Better get in the game! Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Kirsty, you are an awesome mom and daughter!!! I am so impressed with your sticks idea, and am wondering how I can get it to work with a 24 and 23 year old!

Your bewailing of the loss of Jules brought tears to my eyes, as did the pics. of the symbolic riding away! It is indeed a tragic reality. Them kids do up and leave you, some further away than others (if the shoe pinches, deal with the corns Girl!). Re: infestations, remember cider vinegar. Bev. was my Jules. Remember? Love, Marmie.

Jen said...

I'll have to try this because nothing is working right now and it's driving me Crazy!!! Thank you!

Wani said...

What a great idea! My mom too had to change things up from time to time while I was growing up.
Right now, we're using a motivational chart with my 3yr old that I found on supernanny.com - once he reaches the end of the chart he gets the trinket that has been sitting atop the fridge. Its been pretty helpful. I don't know if he's ready for sticks but I'll keep it in mind for later!

Marmie said...

Kirsty, you are an amazing mother and daughter! Do you think it will work on a 23 and 24 year old? Fortunately, the 29 year old is conscientious about his chores! Sadly, I suspect the chore jar won't work because they all earn more than me.

Mandy said...

Wow. My three daughters have tried everything it seems. This may just work for us! Great ideas! and I just want to mention, I think your blog is the most beautiful I have seen in a vry long time! I love it!

Carol said...

Wow! I love the whole stick thing. This could totally work at my house. I can see it now - a stick for piano practice, a stick for feeding the dogs, a stick for...well, all that other stuff, too!

We do something like the ledger. I use the extra booklets that come in the boxes of checks. (There just always seem to be extras...dunno.) They each have one to keep up with their personal accounting.

Good WFMW!

Carol said...

Oh! And I completely share your allowance philosophy. Perhaps with one minor exception.

Ours do get a "base pay" just because they are a part of our family. It's a small amount that they can count on regardless of additional chores. For extra jobs, there is extra pay which then gives them something substantial to save, tithe and spend. 'Cause our "base pay" is really small and it would take forever to save up enough for a new video game if they opted to rely on that alone.

Thanks again for the jar thing. It's starting tomorrow at our house!

(Jim &) Brandy Brow said...

This is fabulous!

Right now we have a chore board that's like a dart board, and privilege ladder for discipline, but I've been looking for something to help my kids remember to do the monotonous simple things like change clothes, brush teeth, shower, etc. Your sticks sound perfect.

And the job sticks? Brilliant. I may combine them with our allowance passbook system.

Thanks for posting this! I may post a link to this on my blog.

The Building Brows

amyswandering said...

Wow, you have a lot of great ideas here. Thanks!

aquamarine said...

Perfect! Our "newest" method of doing jobs, a.k.a. me repeatedly asking for things to be done, has been not working to good for me and needed something different in lout of our school year chart! This is fantastic and will be taking place tomorrow!

Allison said...

I just came across this from your "Mom, I'm Bored" post. What a great idea! We will definitely be trying this soon. We need to shake up our regular chore routine, because it doesn't seem to be working so well anymore! Thanks for the great idea!!