Saturday, September 15, 2007


You always hear the phrase "you can't control the weather", and that is true if you are talking about real thunderstorms, blizzards, hurricanes, droughts, and such. Today, though, I am talking about my own two little forces of nature...


Bet you can't guess why we gave them those names.

Actually, it's good that I am not a betting a woman because if you guessed that they are messy little whirlwinds, then I would lose.

We have had our fair share of stormy weather over the past few years when it comes to tidiness and responsibility. We've tried many different things - working to music, working together, mommy helping get things picked up and organized in order to start with a clean slate, mommy getting upset, family meetings...
We have finally found something that is working well for us.
We have finally found a way to control the weather.
And I'll repeat...
We have finally found a way to control the weather.

It's a hot topic.
A LOT of people would disagree with the way we do things...'s working for our family, and that is what matters to us.

We have created a combination of different things, and we are using all of it to teach our children about several aspects of life, some of which include time-management, making good choices and showing responsibility, as well as provide a happier environment for all involved.

  • The first thing I did was purchase an excellent marker board chore chart by The Board Dudes.
  • The second thing was to make a list of all the things that I expected from my children, as well as those that would just make for a happier day.
  • The third item in our quest for organization was sharing the whole idea with Mr. Brownstone to find out his thoughts and make sure that we were on the same page before presenting this to the kids. We also came up with a reward/consequences/learning system to use with the chore chart.
  • The fourth thing required was to harness in the weather for a little family chat during which we presented the whole plan to them.
Our chore chart includes twelve items - some of them are simple, and some of them are more detailed. They are as follows:
  1. Morning Routine - Have breakfast, get dressed, wash face, brush teeth, and brush hair in a timely and cooperative manner.
  2. Backpack - Empty lunchbox. Put dishes in the sink, ice pack in the freezer, and lunchbox in the pantry. Empty folders, and put all papers - along with folder - in personal wall bins. Make sure windbreaker, gym shoes, and socks are in backpack so as to be ready for the next morning. On Saturday and Sunday, since there is no backpack duty, bedrooms need to be vacuumed and dusted.
  3. Complete homework. This includes all assigned work, reviewing spelling test and math facts, and reading for at least 20 minutes. Have Mom or Dad check work, and put all items back in backpack for the next morning.
  4. Additional practice. This includes 30 minutes of guitar practice for one child and 30 minutes of additional reading time for the other child.
  5. Set the dinner table if dining at home. If not dining at home, wipe down the bathroom countertop and mirror.
  6. Feed and water Bow Wow Brownstone.
  7. Sweep kitchen floor.
  8. Wipe down kitchen countertops and table.
  9. Clear own dishes from table at all meals.
  10. Put away clothes. Clean? Hang it up. Dirty? Put it in the hamper. Put shoes in closet.
  11. Nighttime Routine - Take bath/shower, wash face, brush teeth, and put on pajamas in a timely and cooperative manner.
  12. Clean room and playroom, and make sure other rooms are clear of personal items. This is a two-parter. Putting items away needs to be done in the afternoons/evenings because there will not be time in the morning. Bed needs to be made in the morning before school.
So, there you have it - our nice little list of things that make all of our lives easier. Both children are responsible for 1-4 and 9-12. The remaining four items are divided between them. One gets 5 and 6, and the other gets 7 and 8. They alternate days to keep things fair. If you total the whole chart, each child is responsible for ten items a day.

Now for the hot topic part...
We pay ten cents per item.
Our chore chart is actually a commission chart. (Three cheers for Dave Ramsey!) This gives them the opportunity to earn $1 a day - $7 for the whole week.

I know that many people would disagree with this system.
I know that Tornado and Twister are part of our family. I've heard the argument that families should all pitch in and help because that's what families do.
I'm not knocking that concept.

It's just not what we choose to do - it is not what works best for us. I know that some people think we are crazy for paying them for doing their homework and completing morning and nighttime routines. is working for us.
We have far less complaining and that makes our day run more smoothly, freeing up more time for us to have quality family time. I know that some people think that $7 is too much, but letting them earn this amount is a great learning tool for us that still allows them to have some disposable income.

We give a star for every completed task. At the end of the week, we total the stars and pay the kids their commission. The money is then allocated to the different areas about which we are choosing to teach them.
  • 10% of $7 immediately goes to tithing.
  • 20% of $7 immediately goes to long-term savings. We have agreed to match weekly what they put into long-term savings. This is helping them learn about 401K's, 403B's, and 457 plans and so on and so forth. "Long-term" means that they save until they are at least eighteen years old. We are big fans of compounding interest!
  • 10% of $7 immediately goes to short-term savings. This can be used for bigger ticket items.
  • 10% of $7 immediately goes back to Mom and Dad to pay taxes. I know that this could be a hot topic as well, but we feel that it is important for our kids to learn that taxes are always taken out of your income. We keep this in our "tax bank" and plan to use it at the end of the year for something special as a family.
I say "of $7" in each of those categories because regardless of how much they actually earn, $7 is what they can potentially earn, and that is the amount we are choosing to use for the basis of tithing, saving, and paying taxes. They can make the choice to disregard their responsibilities and forgo their disposable income, but they cannot make the choice not to tithe, save, or pay taxes. At the end of the week, they can have $3.50 to spend at their own discretion if they have made good choices, or they can have $0 - even if they have made $3.50 in stars. All categories above are paid into first. This is teaching them financial priority. We believe that you should first honor God; and secondly, you should pay yourself to insure your future. And we all know that paying taxes is not optional, so planning for that should be a learned discipline as well!

We also use the stars to earn "screen time". Screen time includes television, computer, and video games. We have agreed to let our children earn up to one hour of screen time each day, but there are rules about how it can be redeemed.
  • Stars for morning and nighttime routines are not included in the count. A maximum of eight stars can be earned in a day.
  • Stars must be earned the previous day.
  • Four stars equal 30 minutes of screen time the following day. Three stars do not equal any screen time. They must have four stars to qualify. Likewise, six stars to do not equal 45 minutes. Six stars would still equal 30 minutes. Increments are only granted with the achievement of four stars.
  • Screen time may not be redeemed until all homework is complete and additional practice times are complete. Even when stars are earned, screen time is still a privilege.
  • Screen time may be accumulated and saved for the weekend, but accumulated time may not be used on Monday-Thursday. There is a strict one hour limit on school days.
Finally, stars may be taken away for being disrespectful, for having to be asked two times, for sibling rivalry, and for unauthorized screen time. Stars may also be taken away for things not listed here at the discretion of Mom and Dad.

This system is really working well for us. Our children are learning about responsibility. They are learning about consequences for poor choices. They are learning time-management. They are learning about tithing, saving, and paying taxes, as well as budgeting. They are learning that things like television are a privilege, not a right - and to be honest, they are learning to live without it. They do not always choose to redeem their screen time now.

I have been amazed at how much more organized this has made our lives in the short time that we have utilized this system. Our kids feel pride in earning their own spending money. They are much more cooperative in things like homework and cleaning their rooms. It has allowed the quality of our family time to improve because it has taken some of the pressure off all of us.

Thanks to Chili at Don't Try This At Home for this awesome carnival idea. It inspired me to make my blog public for the first time ever! I hope you enjoyed reading it and that you will come back often and leave comments! I will be adding all of my old posts gradually. (These posts technically have not even been published privately because nothing I've blogged about has ever made it out of draft form before today!) I've included the first six posts I ever made, in addition to this one. If the others are going public, I need to do some proofreading first! :) I sincerely hope you will come back and read some of them when you get a chance!


Jenn said...

I LOVE IT!! I hope you don't mind if we "borrow" some of your ideas for our family to help control our weather!! I'm so proud of you for publishing your blog, too. You are such a great writer, you should showcase your work and this is a great way to do that, indeed!! See you tomorrow!

Mrs. Brownstone said...

Feel free to borrow anytime. You know, it takes a village...

And thanks! I appreciate the kind words so much. You're a great friend!

Jenn said...

I came back tonight to see if you had posted anymore! Hope ya'll's meeting went well...we missed ya'll at dinner!!

The Lazy Organizer said...

It's great when you find something that works for your family! I used to use tickets with my kids. I was the ticket queen! Then we went completely the other way and expected the kids to be self motivated. Of course it doesn't work as well as immediate gratification but hopefully it will pay off in the long run. Now if I just had the patience to wait that long!

Mrs. Brownstone said...

Thanks, Jenn! We missed being there with everyone!

Hi, Lazy Organizer! Thank you so much for your comment. I just took a look at your blog. It seems like you've got things going well with your kids! I was very impressed with the article by your oldest. On a separate note...You're my first comment! (Jenn doesn't count - we're friends in real life. She had no choice!! - Jenn, you know I love ya!)

Karen said...

Really great ideas here! I may have to borrow and adapt as our girls get older.

Jill said...

Thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog and tell me about your post here with these ideas. These are great. I really like the chore chart from that website. SOunds like you all have a great system. And I love that you are teaching your children about money! That is a huge desire and passion of my husband and I as well. We bought these little savings banks for the kids that have 3 sections - saving, store, and church. They love it!
Thanks again.

Mrs. Brownstone said...

Thank you so much for stopping by and for the kinds words!

texastanya said...

Great ideas. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog to direct me here!
We might just try that!