Decluttering my Life to Free my Brain

Pictorial-Reusable School, Chore and Hygiene Schedule

Pictorial-Reusable School, Chore and Hygiene Schedule

Two weeks ago I was drowning in life.  Adding a severely restrictive diet (without recipes) to my regiment was enough to through me over the edge.  In addition, I was being the kid’s “brain” to remember their responsibilities, which means my brain was scattering in 5 different directions.  I was literally losing my mind.  The system we had was scattered and too teacher intensive with my new constraints.  I needed a parent-teacher conference…fast.  My kind husband took the kids to grandma’s for the weekend and I had an intense parent-teacher weekend.  Here is some of the clarity that came out of that weekend:

Areas needing Improvement:  Hygiene, Chores, Schooling

Pictorial Task Sheets
Pictorial Task Sheets

Keys to a Successful Motivational System

  1. Clear instructions: These instructions must come from you, but how many times do you want to say them?  I made some picture/title instruction sheets for each chore.   I placed them on the wall of the room they were to be carried out.  You still need to train the kids, but these can serve as a reminder (in place of you).
  2. Punishments:  Each child got 5 privilege cards.  The privilege is to stay up until bed time.  The punishment, if they lose all 5, is to go to bed one hour early.  It is all very logical.  The extra sleep will help them do better tomorrow.  They lose their privilege cards by disobeying, not doing school work, or being mean.  The older they are the less warnings they get before a card is taken.
  3. Rewards: All good systems have both rewards as well as punishments.  I have a ring of Prize cards they can choose when they earn 30 praise cards (about 2 weeks).  I tried to think of things they would love, but wouldn’t cost us a great deal of money.  i.e. sewing with mom; bike ride with dad; free swim; ice cream float…  Praise cards are earned as the children complete the expected tasks in hygiene, chores and school work.
  4. Concise goals:  I wrote out the my expectations in a chart.  And this time they were actually obtainable for our family.  I added check boxes for each day of the week they needed to complete the task.  When they complete the tasks in one of the three areas, they get a praise card.  There is another area that they can gain a praise…extraordinary character.  Near the refrigerator I have a list or extraordinary behavior that we will be wanting to see.
  5. Easy of maintenance:  I needed something that I could reuse.  In fact they can flip to the next day, and it is ready to go.  I love the cute little magnets that connect to the white board and represent every activity known to man.  My problem wasn’t creativity…it is practicality.  The last thing I want to do at the end of the day is fill out a white board or organize velcro tabs or magnets.  I needed something that continued along without me.  The schedule I came up with doesn’t need me at all.  They check the boxes as they complete the work.
  6. Central location:  All the other management schedules I’ve done had the parts scattered all over (at least 3 rooms).  I put a magnet on the back of every day of the week and I connected them together with rings.  I also made sure there was a marker connected to the sheets.  Everything I need to keep track of it is on the refrigerator.  Including the Responsibilities Chart (which includes hygiene and chores).  The same marker can be used for both charts.  The praise and privilege cards are near my desk.  And the chamber that holds the cards for each child is also near my desk, but out of the reach of little fingers (up high).
  7. Proper start:  I found that it works best if everything is in place before I start.  This is suppose to decrease stress.  If I’m not ready and I have to scramble to catchup with the kids…stress will creep in.
Privilege Cards
Privilege Cards

What do you need:

  • Praise cards (cute die cast cutouts)
  • 5 day school schedule with marker (one laminated sheet for each day)(diversely different levels can have their own schedules)
  • Responsibility Chart (hygiene and chores) with check boxes
  • Privilege cards with magnetic clothes pins to hold them (I used a cute picture of them doing something they loved.)
  • List of Extraordinary Character
  • Praise Card receptacle that can hold the paise cards for each child (Dollar store shower caddy
  • Prize cards (come up with 10 things your children love to do that don’t cost too much- and that you never get around to doing)
Praise Card Pockets

Praise Card Pockets

My Family Responsibilities PDF (click to download)