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Monday, August 4, 2008

Adventures in Babysitting Day 2--Making Order Out of Chaos  

I was clearly in over my head on Day 1. As I fell into bed at the end of that day, I decided I had to take the adventure out of my Adventures in Babysitting by taking a systems approach to the next 9 days. So, I created an Excel spreadsheet for each child in his or her favorite color to create a sense of order in what felt like extreme chaos. In other words, I created a bribery system for getting the kids to do everyday things like eat, take their dishes to the sink, go to bed on time, say "yes" to aunt Jyl, etc. I have never tried this at home, but have to admit that the improvements have been immediate and amazing and have reduced my headache by a million percent.

The spreadsheet goes like this: Column 1) Task with number of points, Column 2) date for day 1, Column 3) date for day 2, and so forth for the entire 10 days. At the bottom of each day is a grand total box, so the kids can see how many points they earned for the day. The grand bribe/prize: a matinee and Baskin & Robbins (or Basket and Roberts as my little sister used to call it) ice cream when the kids reach 500 points each. They wanted to earn 100 points a day, so I created tasks with a point value of 5 or 10 each to get them there. I figured we would hit the week mark when they accumlated 500 points, which would be about the time we would need a massive break. A movie and ice cream seemed like the best option. And, they are thrilled!

It is amazing how kids that couldn't fall asleep to save their lives can suddenly keep it zipped and never squeak a peep all to get their points. It is also amazing how one redheadded kid who shall remain nameless and who couldn't walk away from a fight if the world was falling down around him can all of a sudden "walk away from it" just to earn those extra 10 points. And Rachel is so impressed with her pink color coded chart, that you really don't need more than that to get her to go with the system. Call her princess, show her the pretty pink color, and she is good to go all day.

Within an organized system, unplanned events always pop up--a tired or hungry child who, even with prime bribery, won't listen or stop fighting. Shove the food in his mouth or read her a good night story and things look up.

But... what about those things that don't get points--those non-bribable things that turn my careful organization into disorganization? The 3-year-old bladder that just couldn't wait. OOPS! The tall, tall dirt pile with rocks that cut when a child falls down it not once, but three times. The two toilets that break at once :0!

Fotunately, with a little order and fun outings and plain old play time with the neighborhood kids, the chaotic things add an amazing variety of spice to this vacation. Here here to order!

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1 bits of juicy gossip: to “ Adventures in Babysitting Day 2--Making Order Out of Chaos

  • Jyl Baskin
    September 8, 2008 at 12:45 PM  

    Hi! Name is Jyl R. Baskin (if you can believe that). I have been told by others they have heard of another Jyl Baskin. I am 52 yrs old. I would like to figure out if the original "Jyl" was me.