Thank you – oh humble paper chain!

Paper chains!

Small strips of paper that you stick into a circle then link another in and another. Easily bought or made and decorated. Humble, recyclable, pretty decorations of many a child’s Christmas.

I love you!

Now you may be thinking that I have finally lost the plot. Finally fallen off my tightrope of sanity and lost the last marble in the bag but not quite (although there are a few who may argue I did this a LONG time ago). And I will forgive you for saying it because before I discovered paper chains I would have thought the same thing as you.

However – let me explain and then please feel free to spread the word to everyone you know with cantankerous, mischievous, selectively-deaf, obstreperous children…. so that they may also feel the same love for paper chains as I now do.

About 2 years ago I received an e-mail from Huggies about potty training and some tips on how to do it (for my eldest son – not me – obviously!) and it had a small section in it about rewards. It mentioned stickers, it mentioned small amounts of cash (10p/20p) and it mentioned paper chains. Every time your child used the toilet or potty reward them with one of the above. So what did we do? We tried all three – in fact had tried both stickers and money previously and, although a modicum of success was had – they get given sticker books all the time and my children bankrupt me in other ways depleting my cash reserves regularly therefore we decided to have a go with the paper chains – but not just for the using of the potty or toilet…… for every good deed they did, every time they used their manners or stopped whinging and…….. WOW!!!

We started with strips of paper I cut up and let the children decorate as they earned one and then prit-sticked into links. This was great and very successful but soon my stationery supplies were starting to run low as was my time for other things as they frenetically scribbled, drew, coloured, graffitied and created their works of art.

We also went on holiday which put even more constraints on our time so we stopped for a while. And behaviours started to revert back to not quite so polite, not quite so helpful and a little too whingy!

This meant one thing…. we had to go back. We had to revisit the paper chains.

I bought some from my very friendly Phoenix representative (Thank you to the very lovely http://www.facebook.com/cardsfromnikki ) and last Monday (9 days ago) we started again. The pleases and thank yous were nicely executed (if a little protracted) – “thank you, Mummy, for buying the ingredients for dinner and thank you, Daddy, for cooking such a nice dinner. It was really, really lovely (smile)”, the youngest was staying dry through the night, the whiniest of them suddenly started talking about 6 pitches lower and even the dreaded water was starting to be drunk at school as they competed to get the paper chain for drinking the most! In these 9 days they have averaged 18 links each.

Life has suddenly become a little easier with the simple threat of “if you don’t get your school uniform on now you won’t get a paper chain” – you should see the speed the ties go on – and the tiresome battle of “brush your teeth, stop trying to drown each other, why is their water pouring through the ceiling!!!?” is halted with a “mummy we have done them. Can we do paper chains now PLEASE!?”

I dare you – try it!

If it works for you as well as it does for us you end up with some lovely, colourful chains that you can decorate your lounge or their bedrooms with or you can buy them a treat when the chain gets to as long as they are tall and then teach them about recycling as they start afresh and the old chain goes in the recycling bin. Win, win all the way – pretty and educational 😉

If it doesn’t work for you they are very therapeutic to make as you hide in the corner and rock away the madness having young children invariably brings.

Let me know how you get  and if you fall in love with them as much as I have.

Or maybe I am ever so slightly one Quorn cocktail sausage short of a vegetarian’s picnic*. Who knows! 😀

*Disclaimer – this isn’t insulting vegetarians – I am one myself 😀 😀

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