School is almost out, and if you’re like me, your kids will complain about being bored. Each year, I ask them how they are so bored after playing outside with friends, horse camps, science camps, cooking camps, and a bit of summer work to avoid the summer slide. To ensure they don’t get too bored, we implemented a summer chore list. This stopped the bored talk quickly because our kids know I will pull things off the top of my head to add to their list. Chores are a great life lesson because we have chores for the rest of our lives.
The Summer Chore Meeting
Our kids always have chores, but during summer break, we kick it up a notch. My husband and I talk about particular chores we feel need to be accomplished over the summer, and then we discuss which ones we think each child can do (we usually differ on this, but we come to an agreement before taking it to the table). The meeting usually takes place two weeks before school is out and last anywhere from 30-45 minutes (we have some talkers) Then the following happens:
- We ask the kids how they feel about their current chores – sometimes they want to switch and depending on the chore and their reason we will allow this.
- We ask them to tell us three additional chores they would like to add on for the summer. This gets tricky sometimes. Our youngest daughter loves gardening, so she wants to help pull weeds and maintain the flower beds. Great, right?!? Well, last year, she had this as a weekly chore and took it to a whole other level. I will keep this one in mind this year.
- Deadlines are set. Yes! If you are assigned to vacuum the basement, a particular day is set for the task to be completed each week. It may be, you will vacuum every Tuesday and Friday. It may be, all breakfast dishes must be washed by 10 A.M., etc. This is teaching responsibility and time management. If these deadlines are not met, they are not allowed to play or have free time. And no one wants the doorbell to ring and have to tell friends they can’t come out to play because they didn’t finish their morning chores.
- Once the summer chore list(some chores the kids may not necessarily agree to, but it’s what we as the parents have set) and deadlines are agreed to, I quickly type it up, print and have everyone sign the agreement.
A Few Summer Chores
- Help maintain the flowerbeds
- Wipe Walls and baseboards
- Thoroughly Clean their bathroom weekly
- Help Clean Cars
- Declutter basement and garage (we are a military family and every summer I’m still going through boxes that I just never unpacked)
- Dust blinds and clean windows weekly
- Cleaning kitchen cabinets
- Keep refrigerator cleaned out
- Vacuum and sweep the house
**some of these tasks are routine chores in our home, but the actual job increases. I.E., laundry…our eldest daughter must wash her clothes each week, but summertime she is also required to wash towels. All of the kids must work together to keep their bathroom cleaned daily, but during the summer they are expected to mop the floor and weekly deep cleaning in addition to the regular wipe down**
The Smiles Are Rewarding
The first few days start out great! Everyone is happy and completes everything promptly. By week two, complaints begin to roll in, but they stay focused and get everything done. The one thing they gain is CONFIDENCE as they complete their weekly chores. Because some of the chores are new to them, I must teach them the proper way (proper way meaning how to do the job. What material is needed, the steps to take). I let them know how much their work is appreciated, give them high fives and thank yous. Kids are simple. They just want to know they are doing something good. They may complain about doing it, but their confidence goes through the roof when they know they’ve made you proud. Just be sure not to fuss and complain about the work they are trying to do. Think about when you go to work or cook that delicious meal. Your boss tells you how poorly the job is done because your spacing on the spreadsheet isn’t set perfectly or the window you cleaned has a slight smudge. Maybe your husband or family members complain about the wonderful dish you cooked isn’t seasoned perfectly or warm enough. At that point, your confidence is shattered. It’s the same with kids learning and wanting to do chores.
Determine what is age appropriate for you and your child (I believe each child is different), show them what to do and continue to encourage them to try their best. Will they make a mess? YES! Will you get annoyed? Yes! Take a deep breath, step back and show them again. We never learn if we don’t have someone teach us and believe in us. Help build your child’s confidence this summer by giving them a little responsibility. And it will help take a bit of stress off you. Remember, chores are a life lesson and we will never get out of doing them.
Know You, Be You, Love You
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