There are some pretty smart mamas out there.
Lots of them hang out on Pinterest and for that, I’m grateful! One of those smart mamas also blogs at Just Another Day in Paradise. I think she got the following idea from someone else, but I’m linking to Larissa because I found this idea on her site, and because she happens to be a fellow mom-to-four-boys.
One issue we’ve been having for quite some time is that toys are constantly being left around. The boys’ rooms have been messy and after “cleaning” them, they still look messy. One problem was that they simply had too much stuff in their rooms. A few weekends ago I went through each boy’s room with 2 bags and a tote: a trash bag, a donate bag, and a tote to put toys in that we need to take a break from. I may allow them to have these when we get to Columbia, but for now, they just need to have less in their rooms to make it easier to clean.
In order to help them remember to keep their rooms clean, as well as to not leave toys lying around my house (on my bar, by my toaster, next to the microwave, in my recliner, beside the t.v., in the bathroom, on the kitchen table) I borrowed the Ransom Toy Box idea from Larissa.
After their morning chore time I walk through each room and snatch toys/books/clothes/papers/etc. that are out of place. These toys go in the box and the only way they can be retrieved is by doing a chore. I came up with a list of my own chores, used some of Larissa’s, and add to it as I find things that need to be done around the house.
There are a few ground rules:
1. You pick a chore at random from the choices. (I keep them folded up in a small, disposable snack container with a lid.)
2. If you react to the chore with a negative attitude, you will do the chore but will not get to earn a toy.
3. You may earn one toy for a small chore, or up to four for a large chore. Number of toys earned depends on the quality of work done and is generally up to mom. Period.
4. Some items are required. For example, when Hayden needed to practice his AWANA verses, he realized he had left his book out. Yes, his AWANA book had been taken ransom. He was required to do a chore to get the book. He randomly selected a very large chore which he did with a good attitude and he did correctly the first time, so he was allowed to get four items from the box. His AWANA book was the first.
After the boys do a chore, I do one of two things: If the chore is something that needs to happen daily anyway, I fold it up and put it back in the container for drawing. If it’s one that only needs to be done occasionally, I place it in a paperclip I use for separating “completed” chores. (For example, today Bailey selected “Wash the front of the fridge with the Magic Eraser to remove all fingerprints.” That won’t need to be done again for a while so I didn’t put it back in the container to be drawn again soon.) I also keep blank strips of paper in the paper clip. This allows me to add chores to the container as I see the need.
So far, so good! Except for today, when Bailey paid the ransom and then proceeded to go outside, leaving the toy out for me to ransom again. He looked for it as soon as he got back, and when he asked me about it, I told him that in order to get it back, he would have to select another chore. He did. He completed the chore. He has his toy!