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Katy England Katy England
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Game changer

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Well over a year ago I told readers about our 'five minute' deal to get chores around the house done. Each chore completed would earn us five minutes to spend gaming. Essentially, it was a way to cut down on time wasted on the computer and increase things getting done around the house.

I'm sure there were loads of organized people who read that article and shook their heads in amazement that anyone could need that level of motivation. Well, prepare to continue your head-shaking.

Since then, we've done well maintaining that level of clean. Too well. Since we had established these skills as solid habits, we both accumulated so many extra minutes that it became pointless to keep track. For me, this was incredibly un-motivating. What worked so well with this routine is that it kept my motivation personal. I wasn't getting on my saintly husband's case, but things were getting done.

So I had to come up with a game-changer. And I may have found something. But first, let's broaden your view. Raising three 2-year-olds is not a cake walk, and I would never imply that it was but nor is it a foundation for sainthood, by the same token. It's hard work, and often we'd want some type of reward for that hard work. For me that reward takes the form of a bottle of wine, a 12 pack of beer, or a delightful Dunkin's coffee brought to me by my delightful husband. So we really had two things going on skewed compensation and no motivation.

So I combined the two. My motivation would be treats, or more accurately the cash to buy the treats. Each week we pass 'Go' and award ourselves five bucks as a baseline. That's small potatoes to be sure, but the there is an opportunity to 'earn' extra money by doing larger or more involved chores. Gone are the days when we get five minutes for washing out cups or emptying the dishwasher, but more involved projects like cooking a meal from scratch, hauling up the garbage or thoroughly cleaning a room now add to our personal spending funds. 

For instance: clean off and wipe down the counters in the kitchen, get a buck. Sweep the entire house (not just the area around the kids' chairs), get a buck. Organize a closet, get a buck. So slowly, we get some nice rewards stacking up. Also, you have to keep track of your spending. Want that Snickers bar? Well, you can have it, but that means you're further away from that 12 pack of Gritty's you've been eyeballing at the supermarket.

And it is also motivation to keep on top of tasks that have a tendency to slip through the cracks. Have lunch plans with a friend? Maybe you should see about mopping the floor, or giving the tub a good scrub. I'm currently clawing my way back into the black from eating out with friends, and I think I will be making a couple of Goodwill runs, just so I can grab a beer and leave a decent tip.

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