(This is an updated post from a few years ago. Most of the system has remained the same, but we have made a few improvements to include more positive reinforcements).
At the Ronne homestead we employ many systems in order to maintain some level of functionality for the family and for the parent’s sanity. The bin system is by far the most useful and consistent tool we use as it has been in place from almost day one of our blended family. This is a system that I grew up with (as the oldest of 10 children) and loathed with every cell of my being as a child. Funny how it made its way into my grownup family as well.
The bin (or the brown box that I grew up with) is just a plastic container that holds the children’s misdemeanors for the week. The system starts with a six dollar allowance for each of the children (minus Luke and Annabelle.) They do their daily chores for this money. The majority of these chores occur on Saturday morning and take each child approximately an hour – if they’re getting to it and not screwing around. These chores do not change. Weekly changes became too overwhelming and stressful – mainly for the mom – so we determined who was good at what and that’s what they got for all of eternity. For example, take Mya. She has to clean her room, put her clothes away, and clean the kitchen every Saturday morning.
Each child also has a nightly chore such as wash the table, set the table, take the trash out, sweep the floor, etc. If they don’t do a chore well, or they forget to do it altogether, or they need multiple reminders, they get a ticket (a sticky note with their offense and their name scribbled on it). These tickets are placed in the bin, and they are worth a quarter.
Throughout the week if the kids leave items lying around after bedtime: socks, shoes, clothes, scissors, whatever, those go in the bin. If there is a character problem such as back talking or saying a bad word or hitting (worth a $1.00) or lying (also worth $1.00), these are also tickets that go in the bin. You get the point, the premise is that each item or ticket comes out of their allowance at the end of the week. However, they can also earn plus tickets for kind behavior or for doing an extra job and those are also worth a quarter or more if it’s a bigger job.
Every Friday I go through the bin and sorts out six piles, one for Caleb, one for Tate, one for Mya, one for Mabel, one for Josh, and one for Jada. Each one’s allowance is then calculated according to how many tickets or items they have in the bin, and they have to immediately put their stuff away when they come home from school. But the system doesn’t end there. Ryan and I were recently frustrated because the kids seemed to be content with making a quarter at the end of the week, and they didn’t seem at all motivated to make their full allowance for some reason. We decided to implement some positive reinforcement by introducing family movie night/ice cream sundae bar on the same Friday where they learn how much wealthier (or not) they are. Caleb, Tate, and Mya have to earn half of their allowance ($3.00) to participate and the younger three (Mabel, Josh and Jada) need to earn $2.00 to participate. This has been a game changer. Rarely do we have a child who doesn’t make it, and if they don’t make it one week, we see a huge difference in numerous weeks after.
Finally, one last component. We used to have a little shop in a closet where we would keep dollar store and clearance items for the younger kids to purchase with their allowance, but it seemed to lose its appeal as they aged. Now, they can either cash out their allowance or they have the option to save up $10.00 worth and then shop on Amazon. This might not seem like a big deal to you urbanites reading but to our rural children who don’t have many opportunities to shop, it is a huge perk to get something special in the mail.
That’s it. The Bin in a nutshell. I rarely have to nag about picking up junk or cleaning up attitudes, and if there is something out at the end of the day, it goes in the bin. If someone is back talking, I write a ticket, and the problem comes to a screeching halt pretty quickly. I save my voice (and my sanity), the kids learn responsibility, and the house gets semi-clean once a week. How do you keep order? I’d love to hear about it and maybe implement another system – why not?
Just keep livin!