Thursday, May 14, 2009

organizing 101: getting your kids to help

i did an organizing 101 of "where do i begin" read it here.
this time i want to talk about how to get the kids to help.
to help with the whole process of chores we use the token system in our house. granted we've modified it as the year has progressed. certain things are bigger rewards and therefore earn more tokens while other's aren't that important anymore. but cleaning and chores still hold their market value. earning tokens is basically earning "privileges" or money to buy toys or to put into a savings account.
they even have been known to pay for "maid" services (meaning i can't handle it anymore and i clean it up) that's a total of 10 tokens each ( i ain't cheap!) this system has SAVED our family.
something that is important to note is that you can not expect your kids to do anything you yourself aren't willing to do.
first you have to teach your kids what you mean when you say "clean your room."
cleaning your room in my house means picking up and putting away everything where it belongs. and it means i do it with them. as the years have passed by, my older boys know what i mean when i say "clean your room" and they actually are getting real good at it.
get rid of junk:
just like i said in the 101 on "where do i get started". you need to get rid of stuff starting from the closets and drawers first. make room for things that belong in that room
then go through all the toys and get rid of all the junk, or broken toys, and yes even toys that you have a hard time getting rid of, but realize that they don't play with them.
don't buy anymore clothes or toys
unless you have a place for them. if you don't have the room, refrain from buying it. my kids do not have many toys, but the toys they do have they love.
set a time every day that you pick up the room.
for us its two times a day. once in the morning (generally just making beds, and picking up and putting away pjs) at the end of the day right before we settle down we do a once over of putting away toys in bins, and making sure all dirty clothes go in dirty piles and in the laundry room.
weed out stuff regularly.
during the school year i do it while they are at school. once a month or so i look and i get rid of "junk" that gets collected. we also (as a family) around fall time do a big "get rid of stuff because birthdays and christmas is coming" the kids know that in order to get toys they need to make room for them. and that usually means we need to get rid of a few less loved toys.
make your kids pay for their own toys.
well except for birthdays and's where the token system comes into play again. 10 tokens equals $1 my kids like to get 100 tokens and then go and spend their $10 on whatever they want to spend it on.
i hope some of these pointers will help with getting your kids started on helping out in keeping their rooms clean.
keep in mind i'm not a professional in any way shape or form, and my house does get lived in and isn't perfect by any thing i do know is moving a lot and living in houses of all different square footage, and any size house will feel small if you have too much stuff in it, and these are some of the things that have worked for us.


Celeste said...

Thank you so much for the ideas! My kids are 3 and 4 and I've tried charts and threats, yelling, and bribes...nothing works. I am going to start the token thing - I think they'll respond positively to that. I LOVE your blog!!! THANK YOU

girlsmama said...

I've really got to get the girls on the wagon. I probably need to get all the way on first. Like you said I can only ask them to do it if I do.

Nash said...

love all of it. i need someone to help me do the token system. we never stick to it, i had charts.

just organized our office, was in desperate need, and getting closets done too. thanks for the good info.

Cheryl said...

LoL, V, I used to clean and weed out the broken and unloved toys while my kids were at school too. We've moved quite a bit as well and my philosophy is if you haven't worn it, used it, played with it, etc. in six months....IT'S OUTTA HERE! Thanks for sharing your momma wisdom with us this morning.
I love the idea of the token system you all use.

Unknown said...

I think this is a brilliant idea. We use something similar in the school I work at - and instead of tokens they earn "CREC Bucks," (I work for a CREC school). At the end of every week they've earned a "check", based on how many dollars they've made based on behavior, helpfulness, respect, etc. Every Friday they can spend their check however they like, in our school store, for ice cream, etc., and whatever is left over goes back into their CREC Bank, and saved.

Your token system works well, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you teach them first and don't expect them just to know. I totally agree that you have to get your hands dirty first and show them, and help them, so that they know you're willing to do it too.

Great post. Hit a nerve :)

Bonnie said...

Excellent, Vanessa. At one point in our parenting career when the kids were little we had them pay tokens or cash for TV viewing. It was amazing how that made them so much more discriminating about what and when they watched. We took the $ to Disneyland. Our son still mentions this and he is 34.

Again with TV..ours was stolen when Chris was in 3rd grade. We did not replace the big TV but got a tiny one with 6 inch screen and put it in our laundry room. If they wanted to watch TV they folded. Not much TV was watched during their growing up years consequently.

Nicole said...

These are awesome ideas. I think we may need to start the token system at our house!

amy smart said...

Awesome. I so needed this today.

Team Clark said...

This is great, Vaness - I need all the help I can get and this is truly great help! Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge and experience - seriously thank you!

Elise said...

Food for thought there...We still haven't unpacked our garage from moving in in November and there is no way I am gonna unpack dinosaurs and other toys that apparently haven't been missed. If they haven't asked for them, they don't miss them, right??

Unknown said...

Unfortunately I only (part time) got to my stepdaughter when she was already 8 and lost to us-of-the-tidy-house community. Now she's almost 11 (and acting like a 15 yr old) there's no way the token system will work. Which is a shame. I totally agree with getting rid of extra's, and we've worked 6 big crates of toys down to 3 over the last years, including all the heaps of new toys for Christmas and birthdays.

IMHO, you can't get to them young enough. I know a few 2-3 yr-olds who understand perfectly well that toys need to be put up before lunch (a necessary meal, but also a great reward!) will be had.

Thanks for sharing!

ellsworth family said...

I found you through Camille and have been following your blog for a while... love it! I needed this post and wanted to say THANKS!

Purple Quilter Queen said...

That is a great system you've got going. Is it hard to remember how much everything costs? Do you ever take away tokens? Jennifer

Tara said...

How old were your kids when you implemented this? I think Tade should be potty trained--and therefore understand the whole job=reward thing(dum-dums for a do-do--he loves them). But we're still working on the whole clean up thing. For that matter, so am I!

Tricia said...

Those were some fantastic tips, V.
Although I have checked out your token system before, but I am going to take a much more serious look at it. We are being seriously overrun by "stuff" in this house.
Have a great weekend!

Amanda Jean said...

great ideas! thanks for sharing them. i find that my kids don't really need that many clothes. they wear the same ones over and over and over again anyway. having good pieces counts! and it's less to maintain. now if i could just do that for myself, i'd be in business!

I LOVE the blue dresser.

Elise said...

Hey! I love your blog, your just so creative! Anyway, no kids yet, one on the way so this is organizing 101 will go into storage for a while, anyway, i've got a question, what sewing machine do you recommend? I'm looking into getting one...and i just thought you'd be the one to ask! Thanks for sharing your talents!

Busy Little Quilter said...

I sort of did the same system when my kids were younger. I guess I did a good job because my daughter has her own home and she knows how to keep her house together.

My 21 year old son works, goes to college, and still lives here at home. He does his own laundry. He can cook, and he knows how to clean the house. For him and my 15 year old daughter I write chores down and they do them marking off as they go. I don't ever have to repeat things to my son (he's always been that way) but for my daughter, it's easier to write things down than it is for me to repeat it three times nicely and then eventually scream at her. If her stuff isn't done before the weekend, she doesn't do anything with her friends until it's all done and it has to be done correctly.

One thing I did when they were little is that I would give them a token if someone bragged on them. For example, we would all be out to dinner and someone would come to our table and tell us what a beautiful family we had and how well behaved our children were. They got lots of tokens for strangers, teachers, friends of the family, or neighbors bragging on them. I had to hear the person say it, though! lol

You'll never regret teaching your children how to clean. Not only does it teach them how to take care of their things, but it also teaches them to have a good work ethic. My oldest daughter and my son have good jobs and their bosses are always bragging on their work ethics. They always tell them, "Thank my Mom!" Sometimes I expected a lot out of them, but they understand now, especially when they work with people who call in sick, come in late, or get lazy on the job.

V and Co. said...

to answer the question on if it's hard to keep everything straight:
Yes at first it was hard so we wrote everything down and we do a “family council” so everyone knows what cost what.

I do not take away tokens because I wanted it to be a reward system and nothing other than that. they do have to pay for services such as me cleaning their room or paying for tv. I also make them pay “fees” if necessary if their attitude is less than desirable. But not always because then this becomes a negative thing. They have other punishments for those. Hope this helps

V and Co. said...

oh and on the ages of when i started to implement the token system:
I started when my kids were 7, 5, 3, and 1. the 7 and 5 year old totally got it the three year old now gets it more at 5…haven’t done the almost three year old on it yet but she gets the whole clean up thing cause she sees her older brothers.

Shanna said...

Thank you for the great ideas! I can't wait to get started!! I wish I had known about the token idea 2 years ago when we had such a hard time with my oldest. However, not I can use it with my younger one who is getting a bit difficult. thnak you so much for sharing this with us!!

Brandy said...

Hi V! I was wondering if you'd post more about how you've updated your token system as the kids have gotten older? My kids are very similar to your kids' ages. It's so hard putting a value on things! My kids are TOTALLY addicted to video games - which costs them tokens - but I also don't like them playing on school days. Do you have any "rules" like that? And if so - what do you do? You can email me at brandle21 {at} msn {dot} com. THANKS!

Anonymous said...

Someone shared your link with me, and I am SO GLAD they did! LOVE your ideas and am INSPIRED in a time when I really need it! *THANK YOU!* (((((HUGS)))))) sandi

Ashley said...

Can I have your old glory jeans? LOL!! My closet is EMPTY....but I hoard lots of other things. That closet picture is great motivation.

Aaron and Kristi said...

I have been working on this for the last week or so and you've given me new motivation to get going and get my kids involved!!! thanks :)

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