A Lesson in Responsibility

Growing up my mother kept a clean and tidy home. She taught all five of us kids the importance of taking care of our things and the home.  As an adult I get anxious at the site of clutter and messes.  I can’t stand it. When the mess is too hard for me to handle I go for a walk. I must get away from it.

If I want less anxiety I could spend all day cleaning up after my five children.  Kids are messy. However, if I do that I am only encouraging my children to be lazy by relying on me to be their housekeeper.  That’s not fair to me and I would not be doing a good job as their mother.

My mom did a great job raising myself and my siblings. We are now successful and responsible adults. I admire her and have always wanted to be like her.  I know I shouldn’t compare my parenting skills with hers, but it is hard not to. I want my kids to learn responsibility, just like I did growing up.

Life today is different from the 80’s when I was a kid.  In the 80’s we played outside, had friends over and played with toys and board games in our leisure time.  There were less than 30 channels on television and when the President was speaking he was on every network.  Looking back I remember having just 2 televisions; a black and white one in my parents’ bedroom and our colored TV down in the basement.  I watched Sesame Street when I got home from Kindergarten and a few cartoons on Saturday mornings.  We didn’t have nearly as many video games in the 80’s as we do today.  My brother had a Nintendo 64 with three games, Mario Brothers, Duck Hunt, and a baseball game.  We didn’t get a computer until the following decade.

Fast forward to 2015. Kids today have multiple devices to play video games on, televisions in every room in their home with over 200 channels, and the digital world is literally at their fingertips. My kids obsess about the next new episode of Teen Titans, how many monsters they have in their Singing Monsters village, and the latest episode of Nerdy Nummies on YouTube.  When my boys wake up at 5:30 in the morning they head for the basement and turn on the Amazon Fire TV.  Their sister turns on the television minutes after she wakes in the morning.

When my kids go to school this is what they leave behind.

I’ve tried several different strategies in the past to teach my kids about responsibility. When they were really little we had clean up time right before the bed time routine started. I turned on clean up music (Dora and Laurie Berkner) and they picked up all their toys to the music. As they got older, this didn’t work anymore. At the request of Kitty and Monkey’s therapist last year I started a behavior chart.  They earned points for each responsibility they did every day. At the end of the week I added up the points and they could earn a prize.  The chart worked for a few weeks, but then it got too time consuming for me and the kids gave up.  Parrot was the only one who stayed motivated knowing there was a prize at the end of the week. I’ve taken toys away and hid them if my children left them out. But, my kids are smart and sneaky.  The toys always magically appeared out of their hiding spot. Just last week I read something that got me excited.

Tiffany at Un-Rehearsed, found these chore cards on pinterest and decided to try it out with her tween.  In order for her to earn screen time she must do a chore on a card. Each chore is worth a certain amount of time for electronics. Last weekend I got some blank index cards and made my own chore cards for my kids.  After a day, the boys lost their cards and Kitty didn’t even touch hers.  They went back to their old routine of playing video games and watching TV without doing their chores.

My children walk all over me and disregard my rules.  This can not continue and I refuse to let it continue.  So this is what I did.

I took away all the television remotes, all the Kindles (including my own), the Amazon Fire TV remotes and game controller, and I hid them.  They are tucked away inside this box.

The box is closed and sitting on the highest shelf in my closet.

Then I made a contract for each of my kids.

In the contract the kid agrees to the responsibilities outlined without me reminding them in order to get their electronics back.  In return I will feed their cat, wash their clothes, cook healthy meals for them, shuttle them to their extra curricular activities, do their dishes, vacuum up their crumbs and dirt off of the floor and pray for them every day.

We are on day two.  It is much quieter around here without the TV.  My kids are slowly learning responsibility, but they haven’t earned their electronics back yet.  I will keep you posted on their progress.

Now for the linky. At the end of every post I am including this link party.  By leaving your link to your latest blog post or just a post where you need comments on, I will visit your blog right away and leave you a comment.  So….

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