Our first day of summer break went something like this:
Kids slept until 7:30 a.m. Kids immediately demanded breakfast and set up a pretend camp site in my living room. I told kids to get dressed. Kids ignored request. Kids got bored with camping game, left camp site out and asked to watch a movie. Kids cried when I told them to clean up campsite and tried to explain they were going to play with said campsite after the movie. Lunch. Kids started art project since they didn’t get to watch a movie. Kids still not dressed. Kids are sent upstairs to their rooms for disobeying. It is now 3:30 p.m. Kids still aren’t dressed, there is a campsite in my living room, art supplies all over the dining table and their rooms are now disastrous. Enter angry, out-of-patience mom. Mom screams, kids scream, tears are shed. Mom looks longingly at month of August on calendar when children will go back to school. Dinner. Early bed for kids.
Basically, it wasn’t a good day. I love having my kids home. I don’t want to be the mom who dreads summer. We knew we had to do something different. I want my kids to have fun during the summer (a lot of fun), but I also want them to do chores, read, and keep their minds working. After a family council, this is what the four of us all agreed on.
Each Sunday, we assign the kids chores for the week. These chores include simple things like “feed the dog,” and more complicated things like “clean bathroom sinks and mirrors,” and “clean patio and water plants.”
We also make the kids do summer workbooks Monday through Friday to keep their minds sharp during the summer.
They also still have to practice piano, clean rooms and do basic household duties (like take care of dishes and pick up after themselves, like when they set up a campsite in my living room or dress up in helmets and pretend to be super-soldiers, reeking havoc on the entire main level.).
So how do we get the kids to do all this when there are exciting things waiting for them like rooms full of legos and piles of mud to run through and track through the house? It all comes downs to a sheet of paper. One sheet of paper on the fridge that says:
- Princess Castle
- Play Dates
- Art Projects
- Toys can come downstairs
- Complete assignments in summer workbooks
- Clean room and make bed
- Get dressed
- Put all dishes away
- Do chores
- Practice Piano
- Put away any downstairs toys
And before you can watch any TV/movies, you must read for 1/2 hour.
This sheet of paper has completely transformed our summer. There is no fighting about doing chores or whining when the kids want to do a fun activity. I just ask them if they’ve completed the list. If they haven’t, instead of whining, they get the job done. I don’t have to remind them to do their chores a million times because they want to play, spend time with their friends and watch a movie now and then.
This is, of course, not 100% fool proof because I am a mom who reaches her patience limit and my children are 5 and 8-year-old human beings. So there are times my daughter says she’s too tired to do chores, or my son says he PROMISES he’ll do his chores if he can just play with his Legos for 5 minutes. But these instances are rare rather than the daily norm.
So make your own little sheet of paper and add some peace to your summer.