Some days I'm not sure who's in charge around here.
Occasionally I follow my children's lead rather than demanding that I get to call all the shots. The jury is still out on how this approach works.
Recently Nolan came up with an idea that he thought would help with everyone getting ready in the morning.
Last school year we did sticker charts to help the kids complete their morning tasks. This school year we have been using magnetic morning routine charts. Well, Nolan wanted to take it one step further.
Nolan's pitch went something like this: the first child to complete all morning tasks (and be all the way ready for school) gets to write his/her name on a piece of paper and put the paper in a jar. At the end of the week, Mom pulls a piece of paper out of the jar, and that child gets to choose a prize from our prize bin. The more often you're the first child ready, the better chance you have of winning a prize.
It sounded good to me.
So we started this new incentive program.
Unfortunately, there were some unforeseen hiccups.
This new program fostered a sense of fierce competition between siblings. One morning Nolan woke up before anyone else in the house just so he could get ready first. Kids were arguing and tattling and sabotaging each other's efforts to get ready.
The whole program was nearly banned, but then there were whispers of a new conspiracy. All three children came up with a joint plan. A secret plan that would trick Mom and Dad.
Their plan was to finish getting ready at the exact same time so they could write all three of their names on the paper for the day. Then if that paper was drawn out of the jar, all three children would get a prize. It would be a three-way tie.
The first day of their plan was a success. They secretly helped each other remember to clean up their breakfast dishes and make their beds. They waited for one another so they could brush their teeth at the same time. One boy sat fully dressed with the final sock only halfway on, waiting for the other two children to complete their tasks before he finished officially getting dressed.
They were so pleased with their sneaky scheme. And the mother of the house was so busy getting herself ready that she appeared to not notice what was going on.
There was no arguing about it: since all three children finished their morning routines at the exact same time, they were allowed to write all three names on one piece of paper for the day. There were high fives, smiles, and fist bumps.
And the Mom seemed oddly pleased, despite having been tricked. It's funny how everyone in the house seemed to be happy with this new plan.
This scene repeated itself for a couple more days this week. The children collaborated to beat the system, and Mother had no choice but to allow them to share the day's paper for the jar. Afterall, they had displayed cooperation, teamwork, patience, and planning. There was no more fighting, tattling, or sabotaging. And they didn't even realize that it was good practice to write their names each morning.
Some people can be so sneaky.
I just love when all parties involved feel empowered and think they've won. Everyone gets to walk away happy. And it only costs three cheap prizes from the family prize bin.