introverte (introverte) wrote,

Small changes with big results

For some time, Newton has been thinking about, and then moving toward a robo-trash system. (It sounds cool that way, huh?) This means they gave everyone in the city new trash & recycling bins, and the truck that collects them is driven by one guy, and the bins are picked up and dumped by robot arms. (OK, it looks cool too) The problems with this are that you only get one trash can unless you rent an extra ($$!!), and how snow banks affect the collection. I have been very skeptical about this program, but since we started two weeks ago I'm cautiously pleased. The trash can has a large capacity, larger than our normal weekly output. This may require some trash juggling from week to week during times when we generate a lot, but I think we can manage it. Secondly, the recycling is now single-stream -- no separation.

I had no idea what an impact single-stream recycling could have on my life. This means we no longer have to maintain a paper recycling area, which in our house was in the knee space of the built-in desk in the kitchen. I bought a small filing cabinet to put there, which does take up some of the knee space, but not enough to bother me. This means the stacks of papers on every non-food surface are put away out of sight. Furthermore, since the desk is now clear of paper, I can put my laptop there (it used to stay on the kitchen table, where it was in danger of spills) and actually get work done. Wow.

Second little change: for some time I've been trying to find a way to encourage our kids to do chores. Not onerous stuff, it really amounts to picking up after themselves. 530nm330hz doesn't like the idea of paying for chores, since he feels a family is a socialist entity. I agree with that principle, although my higher priority is turning out children who are considerate, clean, and responsible with their property. So we're trying a new system, based on systems we've heard other people talk about, but customized to our needs.

I bought a bucket of 1000 colored plastic disks, and two small plastic boxes. I labeled the boxes with the kids' names. Then I sat down and wrote a detailed list of things I wanted the kids to do, and assigned point values to them. I assigned low values to lower priority things and also to things the kids already do fairly consistently, and higher values to higher priority/more difficult items. The whole family discussed it and agreed to try it. They have the opportunity to earn about 20 tokens per day, plus about 20 more on a weekly basis for less frequent chores. They can spend 10 tokens for a half hour of tv or computer time, or save tokens to convert to money, 100 tokens to the dollar.

So far, it's great. They love earning the tokens, and there's been very little token-spending. We have more cooperative kids and the house is running more smoothly with a lot less parental angst.

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