Never underestimate the powers of a good ol' fashioned dinner bell

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This is a Facebook note I wrote almost a year ago exactly and wanted to share:

So, we've been trying to teach the girls (ages 7 and 4) to more responsible, as a member of this family and with their money, in particular. The girls have certain family contributions that are expected of them (ie taking plates over to the sink after meals, putting shoes away after coming home, picking up toys, etc ...), just as they have certain privileges from being part of the family, like, a ridiculous number of toys to play with, tv to watch, a roof over their heads food on their plates (haha) as well as an allowance.

Every week, they get $3 and they divie it up in their "Share/Spend/Save" money banks. Each week, they get to decide how they allot it (w/ the occasional re-direction from us). :) Share is for Sharing w/ the community or a charity of their choice. Save is for saving up for something BIG. Big Sis is saving up for an iPod Touch. Spend is the money they can carry in their purses for frivolous, spur of the moment spending.

This latter category (Spend) has been a tough one for me to come to grips with, mostly because Big Sis is a girl obsessed about spending it...and as immediately as possible... on something usually "junky" (IMHO) or crazy redundant. One day (I don't know what came over me!), Big Sis badgered me into taking them to Target when she only had $9 to spend. BIG mistake. Turned out to be sheer torture for all of us involved. She wanted this but didn't have enough. WAAAH! She reaaallly wanted that but didn't have enough.. WHINE! Then she decided she wanted yet another little stuffed animal to add to her current collection of 1500 million. Me: WHINE AND WAAAH! She finally settled on some dancing sea critter in a jar thing that was a perfect compromise. WHEW. I now have a new rule: no special trip to the store unless you have at least $25 saved up in it. Period. This SPEND category just makes me crazy.

So, dinner bells... two weeks ago, we stopped by a gas station/gift shop on our way to the Smoky Mountains. Normally, I try to avoid taking the girls (mostly Big Sis) into places like this, but damnit, they (she) had to go to the bathroom. SIGH...

Big Sis stepped into this place and her face lit up instantly. After takin' care of business, we let her browse around and she quickly honed in on dinner bells. I fought it. "REALLY? Why on earth do you want a dinner bell?" Then, of course, Little Sis followed suit. "And JUST WHY do we need TWO?!?!" I was gonna say NO, being the mean, very-opposed-to-unnecessary-junk-because-we-have-too-much-junk-Mommy that I am, but alas, my parents were there and they all ganged up against me! :(

Oh, ok, go ahead and buy it. SIGH. They happily took them up to the counter along w/ a magnet and some other misc junk to pay for them. Of course, while I wasn't watching, my dad paid for it all. HELLO!?!?! I'm trying to TEACH them something, but NEVERMIND. Not only did they get those dinner bells, they missed out on a lesson in spending. :(

Well, as it turns out, I actually LOVE these dinner bells with all of my heart.

Life before dinner bells:
Girls! Time for dinner!!... *several minutes elapse with no response*
Giiiiiiirrrrrls!!! Diiiiinnnnnner!!! ... "Ok! but i have to do one thing first!" >:\
GIRLS!!! GET OVER HERE NOW!!!! and about 10 minutes after my 1st attempt they finally make their way over to the table.

Life after dinner bells: "DING DING DING DING!!!" I ring them both simultaneously. They are actually really fun to ring. Lo and behold, I hear the instantaneous sounds of RUNNING feet and they sit down at the table immediately, like within seconds! WOW. Never did I realize that such a simple thing as a dinner bell could bring such joy to my life. One year later, it's still workin' like a charm. I just hope it lasts forever! :)

My lesson learned: I really need to loosen up a bit and let the girls take more control - Big Sis, especially, since this is where we have huge power struggles - and just let her (hopefully) get this spending stuff out of her system. I will TRY not to interject my disdain for items picked, regardless of how junky or unnecessary I think it may be. Wish me luck, 'cause I'm gonna need it. :)

Question: Do YOU use a dinner bell?

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