Being a grown-up means constantly adjusting, learning, growing, and changing.
Being a parent means all of those things LIKE CRAZY.
We had come upon a season in which previous punishments and rewards were becoming less and less effective.  We were frustrated.  Our kids were frustrated.
Something new had to come and shake it up.

The girls both have marble jars in their classrooms, and we decided to start our own little marble economy.
Good deeds, obedience, listening, loving each other, helpfulness...  Marbles in.
Spicyness, disobedience, fighting, arguing... Marbles out.
The reward for a full jar?
A date day that they would get to plan with mom & dad.
Not toys.  We have enough toys.  We wanted them to earn something that they wouldn't get tired of in a few minutes.  We wanted them to earn special time.  Where we could be with them, celebrate them, invest into them, play with them.

They decided when their jars were halfway full, that they wanted to have their date together.
Awwwwww.  They didn't have to.  They wanted to.
We have been brainwashing them from day one that they are best friends.  It's working.  Yessss.

They chose a day at a local mini-golf/ go-karts/ janky rides/ arcade place.  With Wahoo's for lunch.  It's always Wahoo's.  Always.  I'm not complaining (hello Diet Pepsi fountain.)

I owned Jason at go-karts.  Just saying.
 He owned me at mini-golf.
 The worker dude had to rescue these two little chickens.  They had fun, and then suddenly THEY DID NOT.

 This was just awesome.  Lucy's screams.  The best.
Gumballs for dessert?  
Why of course.
You earned it.

It was such a great day.
Time to fill another jar.


  1. This post came at a great time. We've been struggling with a punishment that actually effects my kids. Love this idea and may, probably will, steal this idea. Oh and love the fact that the rewards are not toys!

  2. We use the marble jars too, but had given each marble a monetary equivalent. I love the idea of spending time together. Just awesome! Love your blog!

  3. Awesome! Amanda B. just told me about this but with her rainbow chart. We've just started using it!

  4. We also use marble jars for my 4 kids. Same idea with marbles in for good, out for naughty. In addition, we added the element that if one person is picking on another person, the picker has to give the marbles they loose to the one who got picked on. Does that make sense? It added this cushion that healed the hurt feelings of the one picked on. :)

  5. Way to go, girls! Looks like they had fun!

    We do a marble jar for school stuff. (weird homeschoolers alert!) My boys filled theirs up this week which means tomorrow is FUN FRIDAY! NO SCHOOL! Yay! Although we're going to the Discovery Center. That's kind of like science class allllll day!

  6. My girls are 18 months apart. They are now 11 and 12. We, also, have been "reminding" throughout their lives that a sister is a best friend built-in! I love watching them enjoy each others company. What a blessing. Just today they made up this crazy rap song for mom and dad to endure...excuse me, I meant, ENJOY! Love your girls fun pants. I miss those days!

  7. the pic of you on the go karts is a favorite for sure!
    you can see the happiness!

  8. this sounds great! maybe this is what we need to do - change things up a bit and emphasize the joy of spending time as a family. thanks!

  9. This came at the perfect time for us. Do you think this would work for my girls? They won't be 4 and 5 until October..

  10. how sweet.
    and what a nice break from the other kids. not that there is anything wrong with other kids....but special mommy time is awesome!

  11. I love this. Thank you for the reminder that new and change are good. We have been brainwashing ours too since they were born. We always tell them that they are each others gift from God. That he created each of them for the other as friends, playmates, treasures, sisters and brother.

  12. My kids ALWAY choose wahoos, too. And I think I'm going to steal the marble idea. We've been doing charts but that seems much easier.

  13. so weird that i lurk you and feel like we could be best friends.

    yr kids are super cute.

    you should come to my husbands art show tomorrow night

    or that might be super weird.
    it's in riverside.

    i'll bring you a pound of starbucks.

    we know someone the same. [amy]

    i realize how weird this all is.

    i am susan.

  14. Such a good idea! I am to easy to dish out the rewards without anything in return. I think I told my son at least 4 times today to do something and got no response. I wonder if there was a greater consequence for his action if is response would have been different. I just might have to try this concept and see if it works.

  15. My little man also has a marble jar at school and we've just started one at home. I love the idea of limiting the reward to activities - I was dreading the purchase of more toys!!! :-)

  16. I recently found your blog through Pinterest. I am so enjoying it and just love your colors,etc...
    Wanted to say "hi" today.
    With Joy, Carey

  17. with a 13,12, & 10 yr old we've had to change our parenting tactics many many times.
    this was great! win, win, WIN!

    i have been convincing my girls that they too are best friends (all 3 of my kids really), and you know what they really are! i love NOTHING (other than jesus, duh..okay and my man) more.

  18. Love watching the joy from all of your faces that just jumps off the page. I lost my marbles long ago, but this post has me thinkin' maybe I need to find them again. Yay for family fun!

  19. Great idea! I think that I am going to have to copy :)


  20. I am just finding out about the marble jars.. but it will be implemented at my house as soon as I can get some marbles!! Love the idea of no toys, just activities. The whole what to reward thing was my issue. Thanks for clearing that up! Now off to research fun things to do around our home. (Quite rural, but the drive an hour South will surely be worth it!)

  21. We've been doing one-on-one dates with the kiddos for awhile and it sure helps all of us focus on the positives in life more.  :)