“When can we do the chore charts again Mommy?”
So a couple of years ago, in a weak attempt to teach our children some sense of responsibility, my husband and I decided to implement the “chore chart system” into our daily routine. I designed separate charts for each of my 2 girls with individualized themes and fancy pictures to suit each one of their specific interests. I bought fun magnets, encouraging stickers, and the whole works. What was intended to be a life lesson for our children turned into an absolute parental nightmare.
The expectations were very clear from the get go. Prior to bedtime, walk to the fridge and look at your chart. Thereafter, put a sticker next to the action that you performed without hesitation/argument/whining. If you did not meet the expectation in that column, you do not get a sticker for that day. Sounds pretty clear cut, right? What started as a system to reward our children for good behavior, turned into an absolute freak show that more often than not ended in tears, ridiculous negotiation talks (“Well, I would’ve eaten my supper if it wasn’t so gross Mom, so now do I get a sticker?”), and absolute disdain for the whole chore chart system and whoever invented it. I don’t have time for this…and even if I did, this is not what I want to be doing…you could’ve been in bed already!
Question: Did you brush your teeth (Yes or No)? Did you put your dirty clothes in the laundry room (Yes or No)? Did you eat your dinner tonight (Yes or No)? These are simple questions, with simple answers. You can put a sticker for “yes” (I met this expectation), and you cannot put a sticker for “no” (I did not meet this expectation). There is no “gray area” that leaves room for negotiation. Just because you really want stickers across all rows and columns to achieve some sort of personal goal, doesn’t mean that you have earned them. You can put as many stickers as you want on a plain sheet of paper. Seriously…go nuts! You can even overlap them multiple times for all I care, or put them on your face, or on the walls, or anywhere you want…except on the chore chart next to the “thing” that you did NOT do today!
That was 2 years ago. They still ask regularly, “Mom, when can we do the chore charts again? Please Mom! Why can’t we do them?” My answer, “Because I would rather let the two of you take turns pulling my fingernails out one by one with a tweezers than go through that absolutely ridiculous experience ever again.”
P.S. I will take those stickers to the grave with me. You will never see them again.