I’ve been with my kids perpetually since March. Which means I have been their sounding board, their punching bag, and their home base. To maintain our family’s equilibrium, and my sanity, I’ve had to get even craftier about my parenting.

Buying them things sometimes brightens the mood. Restricting screen viewing works occasionally. But what I’ve found is very effective is installing a carrot that you can yank whenever they get used to the taste. Bwahahahahah!

My son is just about driving age. So physically learning how to drive is the obvious carrot. Meanwhile, he’s been such a slovenly lay about in the house that I am beginning to twitch every time I see his computer in a new place or his shoes out on the floor. So this is what I decided to do.

I told him to go and get me ten fancy dice, the ones he uses for Dungeons and Dragons stuff. And this is the contract I created for him and me. He needs to pick up his shoes, put his dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and pick up after himself. Essentially, for every infraction he gets a die taken out of the jar. He can earn them back for thoughtfulness and initiative but so far, he’s not figured out this bonus. This lasts from Monday to Friday night and if there is one die left in the jar, he gets to go driving with Dad.

Eamon’s Ten Dice Jar Rules

There will be 10 dice in the jar at the beginning of the week.

If there are any dice left in the jar by the end of the week, Friday bedtime, Eamon will get some driving practice that weekend.

One Die will be taken out of the jar when one of the following occur:

  • Leaving shoes out of the shoe place

  • Leaving computer, cord, or gaming equipment anywhere but designated spots.

  • Not putting dishes into dishwasher after making them

  • Not making bed on weekdays or when asked

  • Leaving couch a mess

  • Not putting away clothes on the same day as laundry done

  • Not following through with a request within a “timely” fashion especially at dinner time

  • Leaving trash or dishes around sitting spot for longer than a half hour

Dice will be given for initiative taken according to the importance and impressiveness (taking care of your sister, helping in the kitchen without being asked).

Dice will be taken away if super dumb choices are made according to parental discretion.

I agree to these terms…

My son looked at me and said I was so smart.

The first week, he had ten dice in the jar. He ran though them pretty quickly. He had one left. And I warned him, if he runs out, that’s it. He had one left Friday night. The second week I had 8 in the jar. And I post-it-noted his infractions onto the dice in case he wondered what they were for.

Developing good habits, considering the people you live with, and earning a privilege. These are the lessons I am hoping to teach my children. And people tell me they’re good kids. Boundaries for me and for them helps us all not feel resentful while we are trapped in here together. We’ll see if the week to come solidify these habits.

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