Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Boredom" Solutions

Being home all day, everyday, with my six little Love Bugs, you can imagine how many times I hear "Mom!"  There are times I am inundated with the Mom Call as the kids line up in expressing their needs to me.  Valid needs I can handle well, however, when the need is an "I'm bored" declaration, well I'm not so patient.  So to curb this exclamation, I borrowed the idea of a "Boredom Jar" from here.

I recycled an old pickle jar and used construction paper to write down activities for my kids to do.  There is a catch to this (at least in our house); not all the activities are fun - some are actually chores.  Here's the deal.  If you draw from the jar, you have to complete the activity.  It could be read a book, draw a picture, play with sidewalk chalk, or, it could be sweep the floor, clean the bathroom mirror or shake out rugs.  At first, the Boredom Jar was a bit of a novelty within the house.  The kids would gather around the jar and dare one another to draw a slip of paper.  After a few of the kids drew out chores, the others began to think twice about complaining of boredom.  This thing has worked like a charm.

I need to note, that the jar is heavily weighted with more fun ideas than work ones.  In addition, I have to be willing to help the kids out when they draw something that needs supervision (like taking them to the park or mopping the floor).  It has been a great way to encourage playing and working together.

Besides the kids being a little bored this summer, I have also been battling the clutter monster in our home.  Living in a small house with nine people, I can't (and don't) expect perfection, but I do expect everyone to take responsibility for their belongings.  After yelling for the gazillionth time for the kids to pick up their things, I came across this nifty idea from Pinterest.

Uh Oh.  You left it out, Mom picked it up.  She's got your stuff, you're out of luck.  To get it back, must do a chore.  Again it is yours, just like before.

Brilliant!  That is the best way to sum up this idea.  If I have to pick up a toy or some sort of belonging, it gets placed in this tote.  The only way to retrieve it is to select and complete a chore.  Today, the tote is holding a doll stroller, a set of pom poms, two pairs of shoes, a handful of Lego's, a Leapster, and a board game.  Again, I don't expect a completely neat house all of the time, but I am trying to teach the kids that when they are finished with something, please put it away.  Now I do give warnings about their things, but if my warnings are ignored, I don't hesitate to place them in the tote.  Items in the tote also have an expiration date to them.  They may remain in the tote for 7 days, but if they are not saved, they get donated to our local thrift store (which recently was the recipient of two grocery bag fulls from our family).  In the last week, I have had the main bathroom cleaned, the kitchen cupboards wiped down, the furniture vacuumed, and the garbage and recyclables taken out.

I recently had a friend ask, "what kind of militant household are you running?"  Not militant at all.  I am trying to teach my kids that we are a family.  And in this family, we work together to make our house a home.  In doing so, we need to love one another, be respectful of one another, and abide by rules to help accomplish these things.  I also believe that my kids have too much stuff.  They will argue this point with me, but if they really want the things they have, then they should be willing to care for them.  As is evidence of the recently donated items, some things just don't mean that much.

A little side note - The Boredom Jar and the Chore Tote will not win you any popularity points, nor gain you any friendships between you and your children.  I have been huffed at, "Hmph"ed at, and have had tantrums thrown at my feet.  Now that these two items have become regular household fixtures, those reaction have greatly diminished.  There will always be, however, a little disgust when the discovery is made that a chore will have to be done.  In my book it's a win win.  They get to keep their things and I get help with housekeeping.

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