The Marble Jar

It’s been five days since the Marble Jar became a fixture in the Albury household.

We’ve said the word marble, approximately 14 billion times over the course of the week. They’ve driven us slightly insane but at the same time saved our sanity in the same hour. I don’t think I’ve ever hated marbles, yet loved them so much at the same time. It’s been a confusing week for all of us.

So I thought I would formally introduce our Marble Jar to the blog and to help anyone else who is perhaps on their way to losing their own marbles at the hand of their small humans.

Close up of Elsie's marble jar with her sitting in the background.

Introducing The Marble Jar

The idea is simple.

Yet you’ll have to explain it a gazillion times, along with demonstrations and examples as to how the process exactly works before anyone really grasps the concept.

The little people have an empty jar. You have a bag full of wondrous marbles. They have to earn them. You can deduct them if they fail to do whatever it is that you are trying to encourage. Then once they fill the jar with earned marbles they get a treat.

It’s a win win situation.

Or so you think.

But when you’re dealing with threenagers, the simplest of tasks take a little longer for their emotionally charged busy brains to get the hang of completely.

Billie pulling a funny face covered in yoghurt. Elsie is the background sulking because I deducted a marble from her har.
Elsie having a strop about marbles in the background

Day One

We introduced our Marble Jar with the intention to help Elsie work on her listening skills. With a particular focus on her getting ready in the morning and brushing her teeth.

Over the past few months, she’s got slower and slower at following simple instructions and we were finding ourselves working on Elsie’s time.

Getting ready for the day and for bedtime was really becoming hard work. Ending in screaming matches from having to repeat yourself a hundred times before she’d actually move to do anything.

We dreaded teeth brushing as it would take a good forty minutes to get her to come and brush her teeth. When she eventually let us put the toothbrush anywhere near her mouth she’d start kicking off, spluttering toothpaste spit everywhere. Which is just triffic when you’re running late for the nursery run.

It was getting exhauasting.

So when a fellow Mama gave me the idea about the Marble Jar, it sounded like something that could potentially work well for us all.

Day one was tough.

She earned about five marbles, only two of which were genuinely earned. The others were given out of desperation that she’d lose interest on day one. Having spent about ten quid on sodding marbles I wasn’t going to let that happen without a fight.

So we found ourselves reluctantly handing over marbles like overly keen girl guides.

(Note to self and others to consider the size of the jar you want them to fill with genuinely earned marbles…)

Day Two

The tantrums started. I don’t think she actually believed that I’d deduct a marble from her jar…until I did.

Before 8.45am she’d lost one. Gained one back. Lost one again. Gained it back. Who was winning here…I’m not entirely sure?

We had two major tantrums over sodding marbles being deducted. Then she didn’t even give two fudge-a-roos when they were earned back. She was like, “whatever, it was mine in the first place...” Things were going well. Note immense levels of sarcasm here.

Day two was the toughest of the week and I was ready to bin them by this point. Particuarly when to my amazement the brazen little bunny later got a step and climbed up past the oven to retrieve my “secret” stash of bloody marbles. To steal, hide, or sell on the side during breaks at nursery, who knows.

Overall we said the word marble a hundred odd times that day and she wasn’t even with me for six hours of the day.

It was becoming a battle and it was only day two. However, I was determined to push through and make this work for us…and her. After all, the less she was moaned at, the happier we would all be.

Mummy holding the marble Jar. Elsie looking up at me cheekily whilst she choses a marble that she's earned.

Day Three

She finally seem to get the idea. Hurrah!

The drama had been worth the effort. She can see how her jar was filling up and she’s keen to continue with it. So are we.

It’s not always easy breezy. As with everything parenting, you have to choose your battles and your words wisely. But for the most part, The Marble Jar is working for us.

The Marble Jar is Sticking Around

She’s getting ready better, not brilliantly, but much better than she was knowing that she’ll get to pick a marble as long as she’s ready before Mummy has to start counting to ten.

Surprisingly the teeth brushing has been the best part of the process, so if anything it’s worth continuing just so that wrestling with her to brush her toothy pegs is a thing of the past for us.

Let’s hope so. Toothpaste spit in the eye is never pleasant.

If anyone has any good Marble Jar management tips or experiences, I’d love to hear them. Or if you’re about to invest in The Marble Jar in your home…Good Luck!

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