Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bedtime Battles and Chore Sticks for Kids {Kid's Co-op}

I am not the tidiest person, so I need a lot of motivation to clean my house. Now that I am 7 months pregnant I am extra tired, so I'm trying to teach my kids (and myself) to be tidier more often. Last week we set up a simple system for completing everyday chores.

If an organization system isn't simple and quick to put together, I don't usually use it. This one took less than five minutes to make and we have been using it ALL week... even for our bedtime routine. I could've definitely spent more time to make this "cute" but I'd rather keep it simple these days.

Materials Needed:

  • large popsicle sticks (variety of colors)
  • Sharpie
  • baby food jars (or a plastic cup)
  • sticker labels

Here's how we used the chore sticks:

  1. Brainstorm a list of chores that need to get done. We brainstormed a list for each family member. 
  2. Choose 2-4 chores to write down for each person. My 20 month old got two, four yearr old got 3, and I got 4. 
  3. Write the chores down on the same colored popsicle stick for each person. Draw a picture for younger kids who can't read yet (you could even put a hand-drawn sticker on or a small photo).
  4. Label one baby food jar "chores" and the other baby food jar, "done..." or whatever you want to call them.
  5. Stick the popsicle sticks in the chore jar and have each family member choose a stick to start with.
  6. Designate a period of time for chores each day and each family member has to try and move all of their chore sticks into the "done" jar before the end of the time period. 
  7. * Plan a fun activity, outing, or some other sort of reward for when the chores are all completed. if you would like. I just have chore time set up so that when it is done we get to go to the park or go to a playdate with friends. I don't emphasize tangible rewards too much because I want my kids to understand that chores are part of being in a family and I want them to learn to feel good/proud of their hard work. I do spend a lot of time cheering them on and giving praise for their efforts and hard work when the chores are accomplished... and so far, that is motivating enough for my kids! If your kids need a tangible reward to motivate them at the beginning, then I think that is fine. 
Some Simple chores we did this week included... putting clothes in drawers and stuffed animals in her toy basket (for toddler), clearing the table, putting toys away, putting away clothes (for preschooler), doing dishes, making bed, putting away laundry, and tidying the kitchen (for me). 

Chore Sticks at bedtime:

My 4.5 year old son has been a challenge to put to bed lately. He takes forever to brush his teeth, get dressed, etc. and loves to spend the time engaging in power struggles with me and my husband about everything.

This past week we used the chore sticks to end the power struggles and try and teach our son some more self-discipline.

Here's what his bedtime routine looks like now...

  1. We place the chore jar/done jar in the kid's bathroom with three chore sticks in the first jar for our son: Brush teeth, go to the bathroom, get dressed in PJs.
  2. We say to our son, "We are SO excited to spend some special time with you once you get your bedtime chores/jobs done."
  3. Then we go into his room and sit on his bed and wait. We don't rush him to hurry and get ready and we don't really give him reminders, we just wait.
  4. He comes up and does all three jobs all by himself and moves the chore sticks into the done jar and then once he arrives in his room with everything completed we give him a lot of verbal praise and tell him how proud we are of him for being so independent.
  5. Then we let him choose a special quiet activity for us to do with him for a few minutes in his room before we read stories. The quicker he is with getting his chores done, the more time we have left for our special time together. We use our Time Timer and add extra time to the clock if he is getting all of his jobs done quickly. We chat about the day and just give him 100% of our attention. 
  6. Then we read a book, say prayers, and say goodnight. We remind him that he's a big kid so that if he needs anything specific at bedtime to help himself go to sleep... he is in charge of deciding what that is... and then we just leave him for the night. He decides if he needs the bathroom light on or the door open or whatever...
By giving so much responsibility to our son and allowing him to make choices and get a lot of positive attention/feedback from us, he has completely dropped the power struggles and has been going to sleep quickly each night. Hooray! Knock on wood that it keeps working.

This Audible 12-inch Time Timer is a big help for chores and at bedtime. If you don't have one... I highly recommend buying one. They come in a variety of sizes. We have the 12 inch one.

How does bedtime work at your house? How do you minimize power struggles? 
What is your favorite part of your child's bedtime routine? What do they love the most?

Here are a few other bedtime and chores for kids resources that we've loved:
If you have any other great posts or tips about bedtime or chores for kids, add them in the comments or link them up to this week's Kid's Co-op!

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