Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Introducing Badger Bucks

People in my corner of the blogosphere have been talking lately about how they do chores and allowance and rewards and all that. It's been helpful to read about different methods because we've been in the midst of changing ours and I needed ideas.

I can't believe what a complicated subject this can be. The Badger and I have debated it long and hard for years. We want to motivate our kids to do their chores but we don't want to reward them for things they ought to be doing anyway. We want them to have some money but not for nothing and not for doing things they ought to be doing anyway, but they're still too young to handle big chores by themselves to earn extra money. When we simply give them money they waste it or lose it. They quickly trashed the nifty piggy banks we bought them. We don't want to reward them with candy because it makes them hyper. But if we don't give them candy or money we forget to give them anything and then they have no motivation.

A couple years ago when the boys were 3 and 5 I instigated a point system where they got toothpicks any time they did anything helpful, kind, loving, or obedient. It was wildly successful for a few months. It died out because I was tired of Mason jars full of toothpicks cluttering up my kitchen counter and I had no time to make a more attractive point receptacle. Also, my rewards weren't working out. Either they got jelly beans, which made them hyper, or for 20 points they got to go to the dollar store and buy something, but Bean would pester me constantly to take him to the dollar store and it drove me crazy.

So we've done nothing for awhile now. The kids have bugged me and bugged me to start doing points again, but I had a hard time figuring out how to start a system that I felt we could all be happy with and stick to.

Until now! Thanks to all the discussion on the topic occurring in my world lately, both online and in person, we finally figured out how we're going to handle this.

We decided that there are certain things they need to do because they are a part of a family. These are duties. You do them each day no matter what. Because our kids are young, their duties are very few and very simple. This makes it easy for me to keep track of them and check them off on a chart on the fridge. All the kids have to help in the kitchen and brush their teeth each day. In addition, Bean has to do whatever I assign him for school and practice his piano. That's it for now for duties. Eventually I will add more. Like, what would it be like if we actually made our beds in the morning? (That would mean I would have to do it too--- aaaaack!) But that's all they can handle for now.

Anything above and beyond the duties gets them points, also marked on the fridge chart. Any time I catch them being nice or obedient or any time they help me with cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming or whatever I give them a point.

Now, this is where it gets exciting:

On Monday night, after Family Home Evening, they get to exchange their points for.....

...Badger Bucks!

And then they get to shop at the Family Store, which is only open for a few minutes after Family Home Evening. The Family Store lives in a Rubbermaid tub in my bedroom. Inside it are things I probably would have bought for the kids anyway and just given them, but now they have to earn them. (I hope this means they might take better care of them!) A lot of them are homeschool-related. Coloring books. Art supplies. Inexpensive books. Books on tape that I buy cheap on Also, healthy treats like little boxes of raisins and tubs of applesauce. Sometimes unhealthy treats too. Extra batteries for their toys. It should be easy to keep the store stocked because I can just pick things up here and there as I shop and then put price tags on them based on what I think they'd be worth to the kids. A book on tape is about 20 Badger Bucks, whereas a tiny box of raisins is 2 Badger Bucks. This week Bean earned 24, Fish earned 19, and Roo earned 9. Bean got the book on tape and a treat, Fish got a coloring book and 2 treats, and Roo got 2 treats. Some of them had bucks left over for next week. They were all over the moon.

The best part of this whole system is, as I'm sure you can see, the Badger Bucks themselves. When I discussed the store idea with my husband, he said we could do it on one condition: that we call the family currency "Badger Bucks." Of course I was cool with that, I just had to figure out how to make fake money with a badger on it. And then I realized that my husband's best friend is an artist. I told Chicken about what I wanted and he got this gleam in his eye and this crazy grin on his face and I knew I'd done the right thing. We have the greatest friends.

Aren't they just the coolest things you've ever seen?

Love 'em love 'em love 'em love 'em love 'em!!!!!!!

You know, if I were you, I would trade in your US dollars for some of these. They're generating a whole lot more excitement than the dollar right now.

So that's what we do, and while we're still in the honeymoon stage of this system I really think it's going to work for us long-term.

Especially with those Badger Bucks to back us up.

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Alexandra said...

What an awesome idea! I am completely copying this. I love the honesty in the telling of the prior attempts. I have been experiencing and thinking about exactly the same issues. Thanks for posting!

Linda said...

Love the Badger Bucks! What a great idea. It reminded me of the years I was raising my family and had to cope with the same issues.
How many Badger bucks for a Straight-A report card? Or won't we go there? Love, MOM

megandjon said...

this is a great idea! i've always had trouble with the allowance thing, too. i definitely didn't want them to think i was paying them for the thing they should be doing to help out anyway. but i like the idea of the "above and beyond" earning points. and having your own store helps it to be smaller and less commercial than the real stores. more something they can handle!

i worked at an elementary school in a poor area that had a school store and the kids earned money to shop there. the stuff was donated, and a lot of the kids used the money they earned, not for some of the little toys, but for things they needed but their families couldn't afford, like paper and crayons and erasers and stuff. and they were so proud that they could earn there own supplies without stressing out there parents! i thought the whole thing was pretty great!

maybe you think that wasn't related, but your system made me think of it!

Anna said...

This is SUPER cute- I will tuck this idea away in my brain for future use.

Rebecca said...

Good stuff! Thanks for sharing and for reading my post on the same topic. I do something very similar over the summer with my children--earning "Montoya Money" to buy stuff out of my rubbermaid container. Good luck with the ever-evolving family.

Emily said...

you know how most of the things are home school related? give em some inexpensive legos for 6 badger bucks for making day.

Alexandra said...

Can I put a link to this on my blog?