I have found the perfect combination of allowance, chores, consequences and screen time!
Since Adelynn turned 8 this spring, I was trying to come up with good solutions to balance allowance and chores. In addition to that, I was looking ahead to the summer and all the begging for screen time and lack of structure that comes with it. I knew I had to get plans in place before the summer began. I searched around on Pinterest and I found something called Mom Bucks. Mom Bucks have transformed our family over the last few months. I’m serious!
“HOW?! Tell me all your secrets!” You say. Well, I will do just that! This isn’t my idea, so linked here is the credit to mom-genius who came up with it.
This is our super fancy Mom Buck station. It is made out of a chicken wire frame, mini clothespins, and leftover, mismatched envelopes. (Please know I don’t take myself seriously when I say it’s fancy). This is just where they go to be visible and out of little brother’s reach! Just know that if you do this – the only thing that matters is that it’s in a safe place.
Each day my girls have Daily Responsibilities – which you can see listed below. These are their expectations for each day. If they do them, I deposit one Mom Buck in their envelope at night – which is after they have gotten their clothes in the laundry. If they have not succeeded in completing those tasks for the day, I take a Mom Buck. It’s a happy medium between chores and allowance because it’s something I wouldn’t pay them cash to do, but they do get a little incentive to get it done.
Of course there are exceptions, like if they don’t take their dishes to the sink after a meal because we were at a restaurant, no harm no foul. This hasn’t happened – but if they chose to stay in their pajamas all day, then they would lose a Mom Buck at the end of the day. Pretty simple.
You can also see the rules above. They are pretty standard. Do the job all the way to be paid and turn over your Mom Bucks if you are asked to do so.
One of the cool things about Mom Bucks is that they can be exchanged for cold hard cash. The transaction rate really works in the parent’s favor though with it being 5 Mom Bucks for $1.00 US Dollar. (That means about $0.20-$0.40 per chore… but no one has called me on that yet!)
Adelynn and Ava have both exchanged their Mom Bucks for real dollars. We went to the store and they each picked something out. Their approaches were different though. This may be based on personality or age – time will tell. Adelynn worked so hard ahead of time. She practically begged for chores to do so she could earn enough money to buy the rainbow llama she saw at the grocery store. Ava really just followed her sister’s lead on payout day
How do they earn Mom Bucks? The very first day we started the Mom Buck System, my house was exceptionally clean. The front and back windows were washed, the dishes were done, the bathrooms were wiped down, etc. Adelynn did ALL of the dishes by hand. And that was an exceptionally large mountain of dishes. I gave her extra MBs that day.
Of course, in the meantime her brother was making an epic mess.
For example… we figured out that the girls are capable of changing the litter box (cue angel choir). So they each earn 2 Mom Bucks when they do that.
Honestly, sometimes, there are things I don’t want to do. Or there are things I want them to help me with. If I need their help, sometimes I just expect them to do it because they live here too – even if they ask to be paid. So that’s a good learning opportunity. But other times I can use it to my advantage. For example, one day we washed Ollie’s car seat cover. Dave had taken the seat belt clips off and they were sitting in the back yard with the car seat shell. Somehow though, one of the buckles disappeared. We searched all over the yard. I told Ava if she helped me look, I would give her a Mom Buck… and if she found it, I would give her a second one! Oh man, her eyes lit up! We didn’t find it, but she helped me out. Either way, we are finding the balance between the fact that they can be given incentive to help around the house, and the fact that they live here too and working together is part of the deal!
We had to adjust our payout amounts also. Some things we were paying too much for and other things we weren’t paying enough for. Also, some things were removed from the list and some things were added. Trial and error, you know.
How do they spend Mom Bucks? Well, sometimes they lose them, to be honest. Not like they physically disappear, but we take them if they disobey. But mostly they spend them on screen time.
Other things on the Spending list include: Getting in trouble at school, lying, etc. Getting in trouble at school is –3 MBs. Lying is a big deal at our house. Satan is the father of lies and we don’t tolerate it. Also we want to cultivate a culture of honesty in our home so our relationships have the best potential. So the worst thing they can do is to lie and that’s –5 MBs!
How have we seen this work? Well, I can tell you that when I tell Ava her consequence for arguing or disobeying will be taking away a Mom Buck, she usually straightens right up.
This also has been amazing for the forethought process. If Adelynn asks me to take them out for a special snack, she knows she has to have enough MBs in the bank if she also wants to watch TV when we get back. Ava actually turned down a special snack once – at the restaurant, after Adelynn had asked to go – because her Mom Buck was precious and she wanted to redeem it for screen time instead. Will power right there! Now, she could have done a chore to earn her screen time, but she made a choice that was well thought out for a 5 year old.
I’ve watched their priorities shift. They earn their Mom Bucks by doing chores. So they have to decide if they want to spend their time working to earn their MBs, or they want to spend their time playing and do the work later. They have to make the decisions about how they want to spend their time and their hard earned money!
This has shown the girls to think ahead. They aren’t looking directly at cash like they would in a piggy back. So they aren’t seeing money and suddenly asking to buy things. Instead they are looking at Currency Of The Home and deciding if they want special snacks (like slushies or shakes), screen time, or to save their money to buy something they really want. This also means they aren’t asking to buy more things to fill up the house… which I like!
It works well as a consequence at this stage of life. We don’t spank, and we do talk about our problems, so sending them to their room to be upset AND alone isn’t the tone we want to set. If we tell them they lose screen time, or we try to make the “punishment fit the crime”, there’s not always a fitting solution. There’s only so much screen time I can take away, and they can’t see it in front of them before they make their choice to misbehave. The reason this works is that kids can predict their consequence when it is always the same. The way their brains are wired when they are little does not coincide with seeing the future. Then when it’s time for screen time and they don’t get it, they realize they screwed up and they are crushed. The gravity doesn’t set in ahead of time and it can blindside them because of their inability to predict the pain they will feel at that point. I feel like they are better set up for success to see what is in front of them, and to know what is at stake before making their choices.
This isn’t a rigid system. If they ask to go to the park or the local nature center, I don’t ask if they have Mom Bucks. If I offer to take them for a snack, they don’t have to pay up. I try to balance between enjoying things they have earned and doing fun things sometimes just because.
We talk about it like cash though, so Adelynn will say “Mom can I pay you to play video games for 30 minutes?”… I am hoping she doesn’t ask me this in public or people will think I am either the worst or the best mom ever!
If you are looking for a solution to implement this summer that covers allowance, screen time, consequences and chore incentive… give this a try! And let me know if you do!