Thursday, April 24, 2014

Do Your Clipboard!

we keep our clipboards on the dryer- within easy reach of both boys 

I am a busy working mom. Just like so many of you out there. Whether you work outside the home, or telecommute, whether you are a stay at home mom, (who WORK the hardest, in my opinion), you are busy. Busy busy busy. I have a great daily schedule, and believe me, I know how very lucky I am. My youngest son gets up with me in the morning and has breakfast with my sweet husband and I. The quiet of morning is usually the best time of day for my little guy's moods, so this calm and sleepy breakfast date is something I treasure. After my husband leaves for work my youngest and I head upstairs to get dressed for school. And this is where his clipboard makes it's first appearance of the day.

If you are a follower of this blog, you have heard about these clipboards. If you have spent any time with me in the past few months you have heard about these clipboards. I am always talking about these clipboards!

The first item on my youngest son's morning clipboard is "get dressed on your own". I make sure that he has clothes ready to go in his tomorrow drawer, and he needs to go to his room and get himself dressed. This is a child who wants me to physically take off his pajamas and help him step into his undies- and while I love our time together, I don't always have time to be holding undies while my perfectly capable almost 5 year old steps into them like a little prince.

After he gets dressed he tidies up his bed. He doesn't make his bed, because he sleeps on top of the bedspread and because he just isn't ready to be making beds. So he pulls up his blanket and arranges his stuffed animals in a tidy little row. He then moves on to brushing his teeth. He brings me his toothbrush and toothpaste and I get him all set up and send him back to his bathroom, where he completes the job. All of this responsibility on his part allows me time to get myself dressed and ready for the day. Because here's the thing- I can't get up ahead of my kid. All the books tell you to wake up before your children so you can be all ready for your day when your little bundles of joy hop out of bed. Um, no thank you. I could get myself out of bed at 4am and somehow my youngest would know. And he would be by my side, with his "Hey Mommy!"

And the day progresses from there. Each child has a clipboard in the morning and evening. They check off each item as they complete it. If they complete their entire list and put the clipboard back where they live, in a basket on the dryer, they will find a little treat attached the next time they grab it. So if my youngest son completes all of his morning tasks he will have a little treat waiting for him when he comes home from school.

This system grew from lots of trial and error on my part. I have tried many chore systems and just could not find one that didn't take a huge amount of effort on my part to complete. Each boy has a small clipboard of their own. I have created a Morning, Evening, Sunday Church, and No School Day list. I slipped the lists into a plastic sheet cover so that each child can simply check off their tasks with a dry erase marker. I keep the morning and evening lists back to back in the page protector, so all I need to do is flip the chart over in the middle of the day. Easy peasy!

The tasks my boys have on their lists are the jobs I found myself hounding them about Getting shoes on for school. Helping to set the dinner table. Putting backpacks and coats away. Getting through the morning without a time out. You know, whatever the kid needs. That's the great thing about this system- it is very easy to add a task or to change up the list. If I have additional chores that need done, which I try to assign to each child at least 4 times a week, I simply add it to their clipboard. Two minutes of planning on my part every day and I get all those chores done that I need help with. Well, usually. Like any system, it doesn't always work. But I have found that 90% of the time the stuff I need done gets done, and I am not longer driving myself crazy and repeating myself a thousand times. Plus, with two kids on the system, if one gets a treat and the other doesn't, things can get ugly, which means the next time? Clipboard done.

Now that we have been using the system for a few months all I need to do is say "Clipboards!" or "Do your clipboard!" and I leave it at that. Because let's face it- if our children don't do what we ask them to, all those jobs still need done, right? So if they neglect their clipboard, I do what needs done, because I would have to do it anyways. But they don't get their treat. And they feel that pain, believe me.

Before I had children I was one of those people who would say crazy stupid things like, "I will never pay my kids to do chores. They will do them because they are a part of the family!" Um, nope. So I get it, I know it may sound crazy to reward my child for doing things like getting dressed and putting on his shoes. And yes, I agree. But my youngest child has sensory and trauma issues and needs routine, lists, and rewards. If it costs me a cookie or a quarter to have a calm morning, I will gladly cough it up. Don't tell my kids, but I would gladly cough up way more than that!

While many of the tasks on their clipboards are routine chores or daily "musts", such as brushing teeth, I have also included other important work that I feel is a must for my family. My oldest straight A student son has "Do Your Homework, No Complaining!" on his evening list. He also has "Read or Do Oneline Math For 15 Minutes" on his evening list, because I was fighting with him about this every night. No more. Prayers, devotions, behaving in the car, taking much needed sensory breaks, sharing what was learned in Sunday School- it's all there.
The treats that my boys receive range from candy, dollars, quarters, small toys or stickers. Usually the treat is something very small, but every so often I surprise them with a larger treat, such as a dollar or a big cookie. Again, my sanity is worth the price of the treat. Plus, the boys are saving their money, which is a good lesson to learn. Do you think they'll use any of their hard earned money to buy their momma an awesome Mother's Day gift?

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