A few years ago we started a new way to encourage our kiddos to clean up their room independently. At the time they were 3 and 5, and it was such a headache convincing them to clean up their toys, I really felt like Mama Bear with a big box, ready to throw away any toys that were left strewn about. I got angry, they got upset, oh it was just all bad.
So I devised the “Egg System.” (I really haven’t come up with a better name than that) When it is time for the kids to clean their room, they always ask, “Can we do the eggs?” Start with an empty egg carton and a dozen plastic eggs. Then what I do is put a dime in each egg. You can adjust the reward to your kids, it could be each egg is worth 5 minutes past bedtime, or some other creative reward. Right now my 4 and 6 year old are content with the dimes, so we are sticking with it!
When my kids were very small, I organized their room so that toys all had their own bin, and I laminated a picture label for each bin. Then when it was time to clean up, I would push all the mess to the middle, making a pile, and put all the bins back on the shelves. That way the kids just had to pick up toys from the pile and put them in the correct bin. Now that they are older, they can handle much more by themselves.
Then, when it is time to clean their room (usually I do this once a week, but we don’t have a set schedule) I pull out my kitchen timer and set it for 5 minutes. Each kid starts with 6 eggs, after 5 minutes if the room is not clean (it never is!) I take away one egg from each kid and set the timer for another 5 minutes. Then once the room is clean, however many eggs are left, they get to keep the money in those eggs. They are often left with 2-3 dimes. I am probably going to have to upgrade to quarters soon!
Now, I don’t always pay my kids for contributing to our family, they are often asked to clean, take out trash, help with dishes, and whatever age appropriate task is needed to be done (without any pay). And every once in a while I have them clean their room without the benefit of the eggs, I don’t want them to think that they should get paid for every little thing they do. But I do think it is important to teach them about money, how to work hard to earn a paycheck, and how to budget and spend money, and this helps with those skills.
I am personally *just terrible* at keeping up with sticker charts and things like that. This is something that requires no continuous upkeep, and it still motivates my kiddos after almost two years. And if money rewards are not your style, there are lots of other rewards you can use! You could equate a certain number of eggs to a parent-child date night, or time with electronics.
So what works for your family? Are you one that can keep up with sticker charts? (You have my envy!) Or is there something else that works well?
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