Happy 2012, everyone!  I will start off my New Year with an apology for not sending out a December newsletter.  I am quite sure nobody became ill or lamented to the point of no return over it, but all the same, I have tried to keep the newsletters coming monthly without overloading your inbox (ten years ago, that's a term I never thought I would say). 

So here we go with a brand new start to the year....a brand new start to our goals, and at least in our household, a brand new start to our fisherkids station!  It may sound crazy that being the owner and creator of the stations, we let our diligence wane a bit during hectic times...but we LONG AGO gave up trying to be perfect when it comes to keeping up with it all.  Now we just try to be realistic.  It reminds me of a diet (speaking of New Year goals).  If we start a diet trying to be absolutely perfect, then as soon as we fail perfection (and we eventually will), we give up entirely.  If we start a diet knowing that this will be a healthy way of life from now on, then the little hiccups along the way don't keep us off track for too long.  That's the way we look at our fisherkids program: if you fall off track, just pick it right back up when things calm down a bit.  We are raising our children over the course of at least 18 years, so this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Also keep in mind that there are days when we set goals for ourselves (like getting the laundry done) and then life intervenes and we push that goal to the next day.  Our children are no different.  We have to utilize this program with our children as if we were using it for ourselves.  Have high expectations to challenge your children (lack of challenge breeds boredom) but keep the expectations realistic.

ideas to add spark to the routine
keep your children motivated!  


When we originally developed our first prototype of the responsibility station, we kept in mind the intrinsic desires of a child (unbeknownst to them) to stay motivated: creativity, curiosity, challenge, and controlled environment.  I remember these "four Cs" from an article I read when I was a teacher and I tried to always prepare the lessons with them in mind.  We tried to make the station engaging to children (creativity) while allowing the life learning to happen in the home (controlled environment).  The curiosity and challenge is, I am afraid, up to you for the most part.  We offer suggestions, but you implement them in your home.  But if you keep in mind that children want to be (age-appropriately) challenged and want their curiosity piqued, it's quite easy to add a little spark to the mundane.  If you have been at this for a while with your children, you will definitely see their interest in "this cool new chore thing" wane.  It's inevitable, it's normal, and it happens to the best of us.  We just need a bit of pizzazz.  Here are a few ideas to break up the routine, surprise your kids, and reinvent their motivation by capturing their curiosity and allowing them to successfully rise to a new challenge.    


1.  Think about what motivates you to succeed in the workplace or within your family life and then translate that to your children.  They are just mini-humans, but humans nonetheless.  I remember being in a sales position a few years ago and I was HIGHLY motivated by sales contests.  I am highly competitive (my husband doesn't like to play board games with me) and any contest of any sort I play to win.  (I need help.)  We have contests with our children to (competing with themselves not each other....the latter is  the cardinal sin in the land of sibling rivalry).  For example: put a sign up near their boards that says, "This week only: complete EVERYTHING on your fisherkids magnet and we will DOUBLE your pay!  Thank you for helping our family!"  

2. Give them a surprise break in the day's expectations.  Who doesn't LOVE waking up to new fallen snow for an unexpected snow day from work?  If you live in Texas, it really just takes a few really cold rain drops to freeze on the roads to keep us all indoors, but still a wonderful surprise!  Treat your children with a thank you note for all they have done for the family and give them a little time away from the routine.

3.  Change up the chores on the chore sticks they choose.  This is actually quite vital to teaching our children independence.  One thing we DO NOT want to lose sight of is that we are teaching our children lifelong skills so that when they live on their own, they don't have to depend on others for basic life functions.  Remember that this includes ALL of the skills in life, not just cleaning!  It's great that your nine year old can scrub the heck out of the guest bathroom toilet, but can he make a healthy grocery list?  or know how to choose the best value of all the different kinds of Raisin Bran cereal on the grocery store shelf?  My point is that by varying the "chores" we teach and require our children to perform, we are ultimately teaching them independence.  So go through your daily/weekly routine and think of things that they will one day need to know how to do.  If your child is mature enough/old enough/strong enough to handle it, go for it.  I promise it will make a difference to your kids.

4.  Praise your children often.  This requires no money, no time, and will mean more to your child than you can possibly imagine.  Even if your too-cool-for-school teen rolls her eyes and sighs, "Oh Gawd, Mooom!" she is secretly pleased and will store this away in her memory bank, I assure you.  We put these super cool vintage iron mailboxes outside each of our kids' rooms and we put mail in each one occasionally.  Things like, "great job on your test today" or "you did such a great job helping the family today" or "I know it was a frustrating day yesterday, but life is good, we are blessed, and you are very important to us."  etc etc etc.  The kids love getting mail, and it is a great way to let them know that they have value and that value is not overlooked within the family.  This is a perfect time to get some little Valentine's Day mailboxes and put them outside their rooms for you to send little love letters to them occasionally.  Or have them make the mailboxes!

5.  Have your children know that they can complete their chores (not the family responsibilities, but the paid-for chores....family does need to depend on them for the daily responsibilities) within a certain time frame to ease the stress of "getting it all done".  While there are many lessons in time management, learning how much they can take on and still succeed, and in managing a household, we still need to remember that our point is to teach independent living, not to stress our kids out.  So maybe tell your teen that he just needs to have all the chores done by Friday night or something like that....then it's a bit more manageable and still holds a high level of expectation and challenge.

6.  Offer up a challenge!  Think of habits that you want your child to assume, then make those part of the responsibility station.  Let's take physical exercise as an example.  For 21 days, put some form of exercise on the list of daily responsibilities: walking the dog, playing outside, shooting some hoops, etc.  Then offer a challenge....after the 21 days, if they can keep that habit each day, you will offer a raise, or you will donate to their favorite charity (or something non-monetary if that's easier for you).

7.  Teach your children how to WISELY select a charity.  Check out Charity Navigator for what to look out for, what to evaluate, and questions have answered from any given charity.  When children are younger, they may select the local zoo or museum, or even their elementary school as a charity to adopt.  But as our children age, it's a great idea to have them begin to follow a charity and donate towards its cause.  As we get older, we are bombarded with requests to donate money.  We would go broke if we didn't know how to select a charity or two to support.  Please don't misunderstand me....generous giving is at the heart of humanity, but I do think there are wise ways to donate and unwise ones as well.  I would like us to teach our children to be wise with charitable donations. 

Once you have chosen a charity, begin a family contest to save money in your own household and donate the savings to that charity.  Ebay, half-price books, couponing, etc. are all great ways to teach frugality for the contest, then a sense of charity when the savings are donated.  


if a picture speaks a thousand words,
video must give a dissertation....

Please know that the money bags shown in this video are no longer used....they didn't hold up to our standard of quality.  The new bags are easier to clean and hold up to the constant stuffing of money earned from chores!

what we love
personalized placemats and plates 
Oh how the Beck family loves to eat.  And those of you who have been following us for a couple of years now know that we are BIG into family dinnertime.  We have selected products to sell that work quite harmoniously with such an emphasis, so please check them out!  We love the personalized placemats and plates (they remind your children that they are expected to be at the table with the family!)   placemat1

And we LOVE LOVE the LovelyManners placemats, too!  My favorite word in the English language is "lovely" and my favorite thing at dinnertime is seeing my children exhibit good manners.   (Great gifts, too, by the way....)   How lovely. 

we are humbled
by your referrals 
Thank you so much to all of you who have shared your experiences with our products to others.  We are now "world-wide" with the fisherkids station in England, Germany, Australia, Slovenia, and Canada!  Many of you have heard this, but we took a giant leap of faith to begin this company and you have all provided us with a net....we are ever grateful.
The Beck Family 

In This Issue
spark up the routine
introductory video
items we love
thank you
we have an app!
new packaging
in the news
new item for sale
a word from our customers
parent's guide
product spotlight
archived newsletters
we are so social
dusting slippers
we have an app
[and we're not afraid to
sell it for $1.99]

Check out our new app for your iphone|ipad|itouch|iwhatever.  We got the idea one day when we were in a store in the temper tantrum aisle (aka: the toy aisle).  Henry saw a Superman figure that we loved.  We told him to hold it up and we would take his picture to remind him of what he will buy with his Spend money (short-term savings).  We left the store temper-tantrum free.  A few weeks later we were in Devil's aisle (the checkout line at the store with all things gummy, disposable, and unnecessary), when Henry HAD TO HAVE a new Pez dispenser with Thomas the Tank Engine on top.  I said, "That looks great, buddy, but remember what you really loved?" and showed him the picture of Superman.  He said, "Oh, yeah!" and put the Pez back.  I almost started crying in the Devil's aisle of Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  The Savings Setter App was born and our whole family (even mom + dad) have input our savings goals.  Check it out.  It's a great tool for teaching delayed gratification.  And let's face it: this app ain't just for kids.

Savings Setter - FisherKids, LLC


new packaging
coming soon!

Slowly but surely we are growing up!  This April we will have a newly designed logo, packaging, and website!  [We better get to work....]

nw box design  
in the news
abc affiliate chicago

Check us out in Chicago!

Organizing your Family for the New Year 
new item

Our favorite thing about this product [besides the genius]
is the tagline for Tag-a-Towel products:
"Keep your cooties to yourself." 

Have each child [or your spouse] tag their towel for re-use, thus cutting down on laundry, electricity, water, and constant shouting matches about catching each others' cooties. 

These come in packs of two for $12.50: either blue and pink or green and orange. 

from our customers
the cramblit family

We love our responsibility stations and your company! I just posted a thing on facebook last night recommending you bc our station has changed the way our house runs!
Thanks and have a blessed week!

change to our product
Parent's Guide

We are trying our best to cut down on the amount of waste we produce as a company.  We have decided to transform the Parent's Guide that comes with every order into a downloadable  guide.  We will still have the print versions available for an extra charge, but we appreciate your understanding going forward as we work to reduce our waste.    
product spotlight
Table Topics to go

Table Topics Road Trip To Go cards are great to take with you on your upcoming Spring Break vacation!  Available by clicking on the image above, for $9.00!

  Table Topics Kids To Go cards are great to keep in the car and whip out like Captain Awesome Mom when you are stuck in the carpool line, stuck waiting for the bouncy house place to open so you can kill a few minutes, or just stick them in your purse for long waits in line.  Beats the heck out of the fighting that ensues when kids are bored and don't know what else to do except bug each other.  Available by clicking on the image above, for $9.00! 
archived newsletters
check out past issues!

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word of warning
no dusting spray on the dusting slippers

Here is our little guy doing his chore to dust our wood floor with our dusting slippers.....keep in mind three things:

1) we are clearly still in the stages of teaching "help out the family with chores" rather than setting expectations of how well it's done

2) the video is pitiful quality on my cell phone.  my husband is the professional video director, not I.  not I.

3) don't tell his friends he is wearing pink slippers. :)

dusting slippers 
dusting slippers