Are your children in need of fresh ideas, full of life and fun, learning and responsibility? My children have needed this kind of idea for a while now, and I’m pleased to say, it’s here! First, though, to give credit where credit is due. The original idea and the photos on this blog post were provided by Erin over at the Keeper of the Homestead blog, and I would encourage you Mamas to go over there, check it out, and of course, grab the freebies she offers!
In a time where my children were suffering from lack of responsibility and industriousness, I read this blog post that put a fun spin on life!
Our home, in the last several days, has turned into it’s own economy. Each child holds responsibility for his own work, and is rewarded for all he accomplishes, while being held to a standard for all he doesn’t accomplish. This is the way it works:
I first made a list of all that needs done around the house. Sweeping floors, putting away dishes, doing laundry and cleaning the table are just a few of the items I added to my list. I then decided how much I would pay for each chore.
Just before starting the game, I took advantage of Erin’s free Mom Bucks printables. And yes, you need to do this too! She provides a PDF printable of all the Mom Bucks you will need. Click the picture below to go to her website to get your free printable!
The children all enjoyed getting a few Mom Bucks in their pocket, and then the economy (and the game) took a really fun turn! I opened the Mom Bucks All-You-Can-Eat Restaurant. Each meal and snack is available for purchase. But, it is only available by purchase! It took just a few minutes for the children to understand this concept, but they have been trained since they were little that “if you do not work, you shall not eat”. I’m happy to say that I’ve never had a child miss even a single meal, but this Mom Bucks game really shows them what it is like in real life! The boys, especially, are so proud of their accomplishments as they tell me, “I’m working and paying for food, just like Papa!”
And then, the Mom Bucks game takes another turn: Enter the Judge. Caleb explained to the children that if an adult fought with someone else, and the police came, then they would have to go to the judge to get the problem solved. He also explained that when you go to the judge, you have to pay the judge money. Bingo! Mom Bucks! Now, when the children are arguing, I allow them a few moments to solve the problem themselves. But if it starts to get out of hand, the judge comes to the scene, Mom Bucks are paid, and the problem is solved. Squabbles have disappeared almost entirely in our home in just the last two days! Not only are they not fighting, but they are also learning to work things out between themselves, because they certainly don’t want to pay the judge!
Most of my children are too young to strive for more than just the paying of their meals. Which is fine, for their age. However, Isaac, at 8 years old, understands the concept of earning, saving, and using his Mom Bucks. He is earning roughly 4 extra Mom Bucks daily. He does extra chores, walks away from contentious siblings, and on his own decision, occasionally decides to skip his snack (depending on what is being served). If this was a meal I felt he needed to keep healthy, you can be sure I wouldn’t allow him to skip it. But, since it is just a little something in the middle of the afternoon to give variety to the day, I allow him to choose if he wants it or not. He amazes me with his focus on this economy of ours. He told me one day, “This is fake money at the stores and stuff, but it’s REAL money here in our house!” Oh, yes, it is! And this boy needed something to grab his attention and keep him working toward a goal. Mom Bucks is a part of meeting that need.
So, the question is asked, what am I doing differently than Erin, at Keeper of the Homestead?
I do not know the ages of Erin’s children, but I think it’s safe to say that most of them are much older than my little ones. And, knowing you, they are probably much older than your children as well. So, how do we adapt this system to our little ones, who range between 1-8 years old?
My youngest child to play the game is Ethan, who is 3. All of his chores are accomplished with me by his side. We empty the washer together, tidy the kitchen together, or put away the dishes together, and he gets a Mom Buck. I make certain that he accomplishes enough chores in a day to pay for all meals and snacks and have at least one Mom Buck left over to give him encouragement. Also, all of his meals are 1/2 price in the restaurant (rounding up if need be), and he does not have to pay the judge. In truth, he is playing like he is playing the game. One day he will be old enough to play the game in reality, but for now, it is good enough the way I have it set.
I then have Nethaneel and Elly (5 and 6) playing the game. They are my procrastinators and squabblers. The game is working wonders for them, even though they only care to have enough Mom Bucks to be able to eat. That is fine. I make sure that their daily tasks, if completed on time, without a lot of squabbling during the day, will cover all their meals and snacks.
One more vital tip that I found was essential for these three children was the Mom Bucks Envelope. I took an envelope, wrote their name on the BACK of it, then taped it to the wall. The kids can keep their Mom Bucks in their own envelope, keeping the loss of Mom Bucks to a minimum. I allow Isaac to keep his Mom Bucks in his own wallet.
If you read further at the Keeper of the Homestead blog, you will come across this post which is a fun read. At the end of the post Erin offers a free PDF of a timecard, which the child can mark which chores he’s done during the day, and be paid at the end of the day. I’m sure this would be an excellent resource for those with older children, but it’s entirely impractical for my little tots. For the littler ones, they need immediate gratification, which would be accomplished by paying them as soon as the chore is completed.
You can see on the board above that Erin offers her children $10 of real money if they get 100 Mom Bucks. We do the same except it is only $1 of real money for every 100 Mom Bucks. The reason for this is because all of our children are young enough that $1 is the same as $10 which is the same as $100. Money is money to them, and a penny is better than a dime or a quarter because it’s brown! Someday I may have to increase the amount I am giving for 100 Mom Bucks, but right now it works just fine.
Another tip that I discovered: I have at least one child who is slow to act when given a simple task (such as “please get the milk out of the fridge”) He dallies, and talks, maybe complains, drags his feet, and finally gets what he is told. I have been randomly giving out Mom Bucks just because a child does as he is bid with a smile on his face and a light to his step. Which reminds me. I was once asked, “Why don’t I get a Mom Buck when I _____ (get a diaper for the baby, put the eggs away, etc)” I explained that we all need to show love to others by doing little things for them. When they are bidden to do a short, little task, then Mom Bucks are not always rewarded because their reward is being able to show others love. My children already understand the concept of how good they feel to show love, so it was an easy explanation for a different kind of reward.
In conclusion, my favorite result of the Mom Bucks system came last night in the form of a comment Isaac made. He said, “Mama, you can make me pay for meals, and snacks, and fighting. But you can’t make me pay for the most important things. Like wisdom, and praying, and loving others. Those things are free!”
Oh he gets it. He gets it. And this Mama’s heart is full to overflowing with the fact that the training we have given him is slowly coming to fruition. May we all, always understand this fact: our leaders might destroy our economy. They might make us pay for health insurance, schooling, abortions, and all other things we abhor. But they can never make us pay for the most important things. Like wisdom, and praying, and loving others. Those things are free, and always will be.