It’s not blackmail, it’s teaching life skills!!!


So, as a mother and wife who works full-time (and then some…) running my own business with only one day off during the week, I decided I had to come up with a system to get my sons on board with helping me keep the house tidy.  I mulled over a number of ideas, did a poop load of research online, and tossed out the plan to set fire to my house and start from scratch.

When you’re deciding what threat system is going to work best for you and your family the thing to remember is motivation.  What will motivate your family to help around the house?  What is important to them and what are they willing to do to get what they want?  For my children, the #1 motivator is screens.  Screens =video games, internet/computer access, smart phones, and TV shows.  They could care less about allowance, ice cream, staying up late, or even special outings.  They know these other things will come their way eventually (mainly ice cream as a reward for not fighting for five minutes) so earning their screen time is the biggest motivator to getting anything done.  For the record, I also ground them from screens as a consequence for misbehaviour.  I mean, I could ground them from going outside and force them to stay home but what kind of masochist would I be if I did that?!?!

Thanks to my new boyfriend, Pinterest I modified an idea I came across.  There are many other bloggers out there who have posted amazing looking Family Command Centres.  I don’t have a lot of room or wall space to work with so I minimized the command centre idea and created chore boards.  I’m sorry I didn’t keep track of the entire process but I have included pictures of the final stages and finished project.

Step 1: My sons and I took a trip to our local Michael’s craft store and each picked out a piece of patterned scrapbook paper.  I also let the boys choose one for Daddy since he wasn’t with us as he would rather shove bamboo under his fingernails than go is often too busy for outings to craft stores.  We also picked up some sheet magnets and wooden circles and stars.

Step 2: I found some very inexpensive black frames at the dollar store.  In hindsight, I might have spent more than $2 for each frame because the sheet metal I used behind the glass proved to be WAY heavier than I expected (I’ll explain that in a bit…).

Step 3: After about three months and a few hundred harassing text messages reminders, my hubby (a Sheet Metal Mechanic) brought home some pieces of sheet metal cut to fit the frames.  These are to go behind the paper and glass and provide a magnetic surface for the project.

Step 4: I got my husband to spew a string of expletives recut the sheet metal because I gave him the wrong measurements for the frames.  He loves me to no end and did this happily and silently.

Step 5: While hubbs lovingly recut the sheet metal, I glued the labels I made to put on each piece of scrapbook paper that would indicate each family member’s board.  I wanted to make pretty printed labels but my printer decided to be a jerk and refused to line up properly.  After about three wasted sheets of sticky labels I gave up and just printed names on paper and cut them out.

Step 6: My sons and I assembled the chore boards in the following way: frame face down, glass, scrapbook paper, sheet metal, frame backing.  When I turned them around they looked great and were stupidly heavy.  Forget the idea of hanging these on the wall as originally intended.  These are now going to lean with the help of some dollar store plate holders.

Step 7: As I mentioned above, my printer is a jerk.  I wanted to make really nifty looking wooden magnets that would have our family chores written on them.  No sticky labels so I wrote on the wooden pieces with a black paint marker (found at Michael’s).  I had some downtime at work so I did the writing there…and they don’t look very uniform.  They aren’t perfect but the more I look at them the less I mind.  There is no denying Mummy wrote them, therefore instilling each wooden piece with more authority and power, right?

Step 8: Next I glued flat sheet magnets on the back of my wooden pieces. Though they were self-adhesive I used a glue gun to give the pieces a bit of extra strength.  I excitedly placed my first completed chore magnet to the glass and watched it slide to the bottom of the frame and fall to the floor.

sheet magnets suck

Step 9: I found some stronger magnets at my local office supply store.  I re-glued the new, stronger magnets to the wooden pieces.  I then watched them slide down the glass and fall to the floor.

These suck too

Obviously the %$*#@! glass from those %$*#@! dollar store frames is too %$*#@! thick and I must come up with a better idea.  Once again the thought of throwing everything on to the BBQ and starting from scratch.  But then hubbs saved the project by suggesting I find some rare earth magnets.  I call every place I can think of in my city only to find out no one sells them…

Step 10: Order “rare earth magnets” from Lee Valley and wait a week for them to arrive.  Rare Earth Magnets are amazing little things and have more insane attraction than me to Robert Downey Jr. after an Iron Man movie marathon…or me to Captain Mal after watching Firefly and Serenity in succession…or – sorry about that.  Where was I?

OK!  According to Wikipedia, “Rare-earth magnets are strong permanent magnets made from alloys of rare earth elements. Developed in the 1970s and 80s, rare-earth magnets are the strongest type of permanent magnets made, producing significantly stronger magnetic fields than other types such as ferrite or alnico magnets“.


Step 11: Stop cussing because these magnets finally work.  Like, these magnets are seriously strong.  I got 50 for $12.50 CAD and it was totally worth it!  I have extras and much to my hubby’s chagrin, I have been able to hang all kinds of extra crap on the refrigerator.

chore collage

Here is the finished product.  I’m pretty pleased with them and the boys have already started earning their screen time.  You’ll notice that even hubbs and I have our own boards because really, I can’t NOT be a part of this whole thing.  What kind of diva would I be?

I also decided to divide the chores and assign them a rating depending on grossness.  For example: one “red dot” chore = 30 mins of screen time, two “blue dot” chores = 30 mins of screen time, and three “black dot” chores = 30 mins of screen time.  Red dot chores are things like doing doggie poop patrol in the backyard (funny how that one always seems to get skipped…), blue dots cover cleaning toilets and bathtubs, and black dots are the things they are just expected to do like unpack their lunch kits and hang their back packs.

Now, to move on to the pantry.  Stay tuned!





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