During our 4 day road trip Steve and I had a chance to talk about a lot of things. One of them was about our evenings.
What had begun as a mindful disregard of what the kids were up to in order to encourage their independence had devolved into a chaotic mess.
In short, we had no evening, routine and we were all paying the price. Legos: everywhere. Table: cleared but not CLEAN. Homework: potentially done, but probably not in backpacks. Teeth: brushed in a rush. Books: squeezed in to one kids with the other hopping around on one foot trying to pull up his pjs whining “wait” “Wait” “WAIT”. Contributions: largely ignored until the weekend. Yes, the kids were master of their destiny, but their destiny was getting all over our floor. And it hurt to step on.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but for a while we really were stumped about what to do.
If only someone had created a family friendly app where you could set a routine, and then make everyone accountable.
So we built a marble jar. And on day three I will tell you things are great. I broke my own main rule and Steve and I set the thing up without the boys. I plead the “they were being quiet in the car and in 18 hours this was our first peace” argument. Ideally the whole family agrees to the actions together.
We added four marbles for the actions that we all needed to take, like clear the table, and 2 for the boys schoolwork, and one for group tasks such as washing the dishes. Each night we fill the jar, and if it is before 7:30 we get free time. Which for the past three nights has been used to watch “performances” where my son who is tone deaf goes on for 17 minutes and my son who can carry a tune goes on for 17 seconds.
Just imagine each and every one of those legos on that rug. Ouch. After three day and 30 minutes a day we also have clean bathrooms,2 folded (and mostly put away) loads of laundry thanks to Oliver, Stainless polished appliances, and nothing at all on the floor of the main level of our house.
But you should see upstairs.
We have also had a great time doing “school stuff” where Oliver does his homework and Leo practices writing. Although it is worksheet central it feels good to have a dedicated time. Despite not creating the list the boys are IN. They like to set the timers, and cheer each other on. During the group cleaning period the first day Leo sat on a bench and opted not to clean. We were a little stumped so we asked the boys how to keep it fair. They decided that not participating during group clean meant that that person had to do double the time cleaning alone when the jar was all full except that one marble. That has worked so far.
Like every tool the marble jar app has come in and out of favor in our household…but there is no questions it is helping us practice a better evening routine, work together, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
Upon reflection maybe the “10 Mins School Stuff ” action should have 3 possible marbles not 2.