I’ve been convinced from the day I started this blog, a whole 10 months ago, that nobody wants to read about the daily ins and outs of my family. I mean, who wants to read about emptying 5 back packs five days a week holding twenty million pieces of paper consisting of various works of art, information sheets, and busy work? Or who wants to hear about how dinner is conducted for a half hour, yes the timer is set, and Ryan and I literally do not speak a word to each other because the kids CAN NOT STOP TALKING about the most insane, off the wall topics like, “Luke is SO awkward, and my teacher read the ‘S’ word in school today” WHAT? What ‘S’ word? “You know, stup….” OH that ‘S’ word, or how I manage to never ever be able to get caught up on laundry, or cleaning, or bills, or how I don’t even get started on things like cleaning my oven (never) or washing windows (another never) or baseboards (Tate -what’s a baseboard? Good question son) and when I actually do get around to sorting socks (that, in fact, is a lie. Ryan sorts the socks because I will not do it, I detest that job, and if I had my way, there would be no socks in this family) the socks literally cover the floor of our entire living room for days. All of that seems REALLY boring to me but it is my life. I mean, the Ronne family is not that exciting in real life. The concept of my family may sound exciting, 7 kids, 10 and under, one mom and one dad, throw in a handicapped child, a cat, and ten chickens, that does sound, if not exciting, at least intriguing. When Ryan and I do actually venture out with the entire family (like once a month not including church) we get quite a few bewildered looks along with a few offers from complete strangers to buy us a beverage of our choice, (not at church, although it may be a nice addition come to think of it). I guess the concept of our family is interesting because not many people have what we have in this day and age and that is the nature of our beast, people are curious. People are curious about how it all works, and how we combined two families from different sides of the country into one, coherent, semi functioning normal family. And the questions of…
1. How do you do it?
2. How do you have time for your marriage?
3. Do the kids all get along?
How do we do it?
This answer is multi-faceted, first, we do it because we have to. That’s a pretty lame answer but it’s the truth. We have MANY systems in place that work really well, for example, numero uno system – THE BIN. This is a system that I grew up with and loathed with every cell of my being as a child. Funny how it made its way into my grownup family as well, although I like to think of myself as a kinder, gentler bin commander than the regime I grew up under, however, that could possibly be wishful thinking….
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 five dollar allowance for each of the older kids, Caleb, Tate, Mya, and Mabel (Luke is an “older” kid but he is not in that category for the sake of discussion.) They do their daily chores for this money. When they don’t do a chore well, or they forget, or they need multiple reminders, they get a ticket (whatever scrap paper I have laying around with their offense scribbled on it). This is placed in the bin whenever I get around to walking that way and it is worth a quarter. Throughout the week if the kids leave items out after bedtime, those go in the bin or if they don’t clean their room that’s a ticket, the premise is, each item or ticket is worth a quarter OUT of their allowance. However, they can also earn plus tickets for kind behavior or doing an extra job and those are also worth a quarter. Every Wednesday mom (yes it’s always mom) goes through the bin and sorts out four piles, one for Caleb, one for Tate, one for Mya, and one for Mabel. Their 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. But the system doesn’t end there. We, the parents discovered, that the kids really didn’t care about what they got in the bin because there weren’t any negative consequences attached to the tickets or the items other than not getting money and money doesn’t mean a whole lot to our children. So my smart husband implemented the idea that each item they got would also equal a chore that had to be completed on Saturday morning. This was a brilliant plan for mom because now every Saturday morning I get to custom design specific chore charts for each child (Tate is an AWESOME vacuum operator) who had items in the bin (they ALL always have at least something) and my house gets clean, kind of . Then, after their chores are completed and inspected, they are allowed to “shop.” By shop I mean, shop in the little store we set up in an extra closet in our house. The store consists of mainly dollar store finds and clearance items with the occasional big ticket item like a Wii game for anyone who wants to save their money.
The Store – it’s not pretty or tidy, but it does the job.
This system has saved my rear end as a mother. I no longer nag about anything. If there is something laying out at the end of the day, it goes in the bin. If someone is back talking, I just write a ticket, I save my voice (and my sanity), the kids learn responsibility, and the house gets semi-clean once a week. More to come! How do you keep order? I’d love to hear about it and maybe implement another system!
Just keep livin!!