I have an especially great giveaway to tell you about today. It’s for a set of chore cards called “Hands Around the House,” and not only are the cards a cool product created by a cool local mom, but she’s also going to actually award sets to five lucky Go West readers!
Melanie Allen is the Geneva mom behind 3R Cards, which produces and publishes the “Hands Around the House” set.
The laminated 5 x 7 cards feature illustrations of 30 common, easy chores like setting the table, folding clean towels or carrying in the groceries. There are also 15 cards that can be used to reward children for helping out. Rather than materialistic prizes, many of the reward cards are designed to create special memories – such as holding a family picnic or baking with a caregiver. Finally, the set also includes a weekly tracking calendar and suggestions for various ways to use the cards.
Three “three Rs” in 3R Cards stand for respect, responsibility and reward, and the story behind how Melanie and her sister Lori were inspired to create the cards is quite moving.
Their mom Mary was 38 years old when she became a single mother of four children. She was working and trying to keep the house in order, too, and during one particularly nutty snow day, she sat down with her kids and started drawing sketches on index cards. She handed her kids the cards to color, and then over the next few days, they started to appear next to their plate at the dinner table. Mary Allen told her children the cards represented their after-school responsibility. Melanie points out that there were no reward cards in use. “Mom’s motto was “Do it!” she says. “The ‘just’ was implied!”
Melanie now lives in Geneva with her toddler Luke, her baby Madeleine and husband Tom. I asked her to answer a few more questions about 3R Cards. At the end of this Q&A, you can learn how easy it is to enter to win a set of the “Hands Around the House” cards. Remember, there will be five winners!
Q. What's your aspect of the “Hands Around the House” card set?
A. There are so many aspects of “Hands Around the House” that I am passionate about. I love that this system is designed to grow with a family, the chores vary in difficulty and can be assigned to children of different ages and abilities. And that the rewards promote family together time or perks we sometimes take advantage of, like 30 minutes of computer time or television.
I love the fact that the illustrations are realistic -- there's not a "character" image doing chores but actually children.
I feel there should be a distinction between what is "real" and what is entertainment. My son is 2 and likes the characters Wonder Pets, Diego, Super Why and Thomas the Train and we have lots of toys and books with those images that we read and play with. But when it comes to real-life skills, for example potty training, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc. I prefer to stay away from "characters" and use real-life images to help him develop and master those skills. “Hands Around the House” falls into that same philosophy, the images depict a child setting the table and a family enjoying a picnic -- not a cast of "characters.”
But my favorite concept behind “Hands Around the House” is that it creates a family community who works together and plays together. It really is about all family members sharing in the responsibility of creating a peaceful home. And when everybody is pitching in, everyone has time to do the things we'd rather do, like go for a bike ride or watch a movie.
Q. Has becoming a mother yourself made you more empathetic with what your mom faced 30-some years ago? How did her version of the cards back then help your family?
A. Yes, being a mother myself now, I see the genius behind my mother's madness! And I can't wait to start using some of my mother’s techniques. When my mom started using chore cards on me and my siblings, we were a busy household with school, work, dance classes, social obligations, sports teams, etc. She used the chore cards as a way to divide household work between all of us so we could have the extra time to do the things we wanted to do, which was for me, ballet. Along the way we learned how to manage our time between all of our schedules and our responsibilities at home.
Q. I remember you once told me no one likes cleaning the bathroom, but it has to be done and the “Hands Around the House” cards are one way to make sure tasks get divided among family members. Do you think it's important that families realize housework shouldn't all fall to the mother, that everyone has a part to play in making a house a home?
A. I do think that everyone is responsible for keeping the house clean, orderly and cozy. It should not fall to just one person. It's about everyone being respectful to the space they share with other people. The bathroom is a good example because, everyone has to use it and it is usually shared by several family members. Have you ever walked into a bathroom, to take a shower or brush your teeth and before you can even use it, you have to clean up after the last person? That's not right. Using “Hands Around the House” teaches everyone to be respectful of the space they share together and ultimately being respectful to those people with whom you live.
Let’s say for example you were assigned to clean the bathroom as one of your chores and before you could even spray cleaner on the sink, you had to pick up wet towels, put the cap back on the toothpaste, replace the toilet paper, put away all the bath toys, etc. Well, maybe the next you used the bathroom, you'll pick up after yourself knowing how annoying it is to have to pick up after everyone else.
OK. Here’s how to enter the giveaway to win a set of “Hands Around the House” chore cards, which usually retail for nearly $25.
To enter, all you need to do is answer the following question in the comment section below: Once the housework and chores are done in your home, how does your family like to spend its free time together?
You MUST leave your email (in the "optional" email field) and at least your first name.
One entry per person is allowed. To earn a 2nd entry, just “like” the Facebook page of 3R Cards and come back here and tell us you did so in the comments section. That will be your 2nd chance at winning.
The giveaway starts now and ends Thursday, March 24, at 10 p.m. Central Time. We’ll use random.org to pick five winners, and the winners will be posted and notified on Friday, March 25.
Good luck! And now I think I’m going to work with my daughter on the importance of helping mom pick up her toys.
Editor’s Note: In the interest of full disclosure, Melanie Allen is a good friend of mine. 3R Cards also recently joined the Mompreneur Directory.
Wow. What a fun giveaway. I urge all of you who entered to read about your fellow reader's favorite ways to spend time together as a family once the chores are done. I know I got some new ideas and also some experiences to look forward to when my daughter is older.
Melanie Allen and 3R Cards were so generous to award sets of "Hands Around the House" to five lucky winners.
For those of you who entered but didn't win, I urge you to check out the 3R Cards entry in the Mompreneur Directory for a special code that will give Go West readers 15 percent off their purchase.
So without further ado ... Here are the winners, along with their favorite family activity comment to help identify them:
Maribeth U: After cleaning up, we love to either snuggle on the couch with mommy or play "daddy jungle-gym"!
Janna: We are a big train family here...and of puzzles are always a hit! And if the weather is nice, we tend to be found outside.
Stacia: For our downtime we usually end up watching Toy Story or Shrek for the 60th billionth time.
Julie: My family loves to play games after we finish our chores. We also might pick a documentary to watch, since those are my kids favorite kinds of movies.
Lisa: We love to do crafts or make cookies! And we love to build forts!
Thanks again to all of you for participating, and to 3R Cards for making this giveaway possible. Look for more great Go West giveaways soon!