The Argue Jar

With my full-time job and my hubby’s new biz starting, my patience has been strained. Add in a needy pit bull rescue, other family obligations, the kids’ school work, after school classes, and a sputter tic that my darling son has decided sounds best when displayed ten times/minute, I have little room for additional irritations.

On the positive side:

  • I am learning to say no
  • I have greatly reduced my drinking and upped my exercise
  • I have learned to set boundaries
  • I have given myself permission to love others but not allow their negativity to affect me
  • I have learned the importance of defending my personal space
  • I am realizing that I don’t have to explain ANYTHING to ANYONE anymore – not my statements, my kids, my own personal needs

But perhaps the best thing I’ve created for peace despite an insane schedule?

The Argue Jar

Basically, it works like this:

Me: Stink, I need you to take out the trash now
Stink: I was hoping to do it after I finished reading Pokemon and the Case of the Runaway Chicken
Me: Add a dollar to the argue jar
Stink: But I’m at a really good part!
Me: Add another dollar

(Two minutes later)

Me: Pip, it’s time to get ready for dinner
Pip: But I want to bike!
Me: Add a dollar to the argue jar
Pip: (getting the dollar but shuffling her feet) That’s totally unfair!
Me: Add in a quarter for a bad attitude

Last week, I made $11.75:

With it, I bought this:

Because I often have to turn over my entire paycheck to cover boring essentials like food, shelter and clothing, this really made my day! It relaxed me enough to be able to thank the other people in my life who pitch in to make our little household run. This includes:

  • My hubby. Thanks, sweetie, for your wonderful dinners!

  • Thanks, kiddos, for genuinely liking each other after all this time. I’m bracing myself for those tween years when you’ll realize sharing a room is about as uncool as having your mom hug you in front of class, but for now, I’ll take it!

  • And thank you, crazy Brooklyn, for reminding me that although you still want to eat other dogs when we walk you, you are a complete and total love bug with us. You are teaching me how to be tough and patient as we socialize you. And for that, of course, take our favorite chair. Let us wrap you in pillows. All 85 pounds of you deserve every last bit of comfort.

Some people have meditation. Some people have exercise. I have the argue jar. And I’m quite grateful. Until next time, hug that ticker today! And remember, a kid who tics but has personality beats a non-ticking boring kid any day of the week. Focus on the gifts!


  1. Fred and KellyS – I think your response is a pretty black and white one. I’m all for having discussions and critical thinking, from everything from death to religion to sexuality to why they like certain subjects in school, how to solve math problems, etc. But there is no discussion when it comes to things like taking out the garbage and doing chores. I am not worried about them resenting me for this, for I will resent them if they are living in my home in 20 years because at a job they think everything is open to discussion and they are living with me as a result. I believe as parents we do our children a disservice by thinking everything they say and do is worthy of a big discussion. No. Many things yes, but running the household and contributing? Nope.

    • I wonder how some of us survived and have become successful adults without a argue jar. As children it is natural to want to say no or “I was hoping to do it after I finished reading Pokemon and the Case of the Runaway Chicken.” Why should that be punished? He did not say no, he was actually reading (awesome choice then electronics)and stated when he was going to do it. To assume because at a young age they respond as he/she did, that they will be with you into their 20’s with no work ethic, is truly jumping to conclusions. But again, not all families are going to be the same and not everything works for everyone.

  2. I am glad it works for you,it is always good to find that peace. However to me it seems very totalitarian. I do not see them saying no as a first response as a need for discipline. Maybe if continued negative responses back, but not as a primary charge. IMO children should not be raised with the idea that saying no to a parents request, will end up with negative consequence. I ended up resenting my parents because of this type of no talk back mentality. Also, does it work for you as well? Can anyone make you put money in a jar if you do something that may be deemed as argumentative? But again, if it is a work in progress and brings you peace, may the peace be plentiful.

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