The Clip System: Keeping Kids Accountable and Making Helping a Habit

I was visiting with a friend of mine recently and I saw the greatest idea at her house.  I immediately fell in love with the concept and wished I had implemented such a system when my children were younger.  I loved it so much, I asked her to write a blog post for us! Enjoy! Love, Karen From ----- :

As much as I would love it if my children awakened everyday with the fresh desire to serve each other, clean up after themselves, or simply remember to pack themselves a snack on their own, it just doesn’t happen organically or consistently without our guidance and encouragement.  I have found myself frustrated by their inability to see things that need to be done around the house as well as their dependence upon me to remind them of every little thing.

We implemented something in our home to encourage personal responsibility and serving others. It can be adapted to whatever suits your household, but keep it simple!  In our home we use a small clipboard for each child and wooden clips. Each clip has a different task written on it--for example some clips might read, "backpack", "piano" or "clean up."  These aren't necessarily their chores but they are those tasks that I have found myself barking at them to do everyday!

"Have you packed your backpack?" "Did you practice piano?"

I felt like a broken record, not to mention the fact that I was creating a system that made it so my children were unable to remember anything on their own because they weren't personally responsible for the tasks. They had low motivation to take the initiative in these areas because they knew I would be on top of them asking them everyday. I don’t know about you, but I am maxed out on the amount of things I can hold in my brain at the end of everyday and something has to give!

The expectation with the clip system is that each day the children have to move all of their clips on the clipboard from the “to do” side to the “done” side. I also added what we call the “helper” clip. In order to “move” their helper clip they must come to their dad or me and ask, “How can I help you?”  It may be something small or big that we ask of them—they have no idea when they ask, but they know they have to have a heart that is willing to help.  We started seeing an unexpected benefit from this system, not only was it creating a habit in the kids to own their "tasks," but their eyes were opened to the numerous ways they could serve our family—helping has become a habit.

This simple system is freeing my mind of clutter it wasn’t meant to carry, planting seeds of personal responsibility, and encouraging a culture of serving in our home.  That’s a pretty nice return on a simple clipboard and some clothespins!

Love you all,