Previously posted in May 2008
Too funny! Quayd walked in the door from school, put his backpack away and slumped down at the kitchen table. His first words, "I'm bored." WHAT!?! He'd been home less than three minutes!!! That's not happening! Over the years, I've watched lots of other families and picked a few of their best tips to apply to our family. Here's a few things that we've picked up over the years to make our summer run smoother!
- Each child has their own water bottle/mug. They are filled each morning and kept in the door of the fridge. They drink from these all day long, except during meals. It's a great way to know that they are staying hydrated, keeps the sink free of a thousand glasses, and I don't have to be pouring drinks all day long! By the way, the rule in our house is water only in the mugs and they stay in the fridge. They are not travel mugs or outside mugs. This way, they are always where they are supposed to be!
- Purchase some inexpensive plastic dishes for them... each has their own color plate, bowl and glass. These are the dishes that they use for breakfast, lunch and all snacks. Not dinnertime. They are responsible for washing their own dishes. This teaches them responsibility because if they aren't clean, they have to wash the crusty dish before they use it again. Much easier! This way, I know who's dishes are left out on the deck in the mornings, after breakfast. I can also tell who left the milk out if Quayd's blue glass is sitting by it! Worth the $12 alone!
- The oldest summer rule in our home is that there is no fun until beds are made and babes are dressed. No one goes to bed unless clothes are put away, swimsuits and towels hung to dry overnight.
- We also read every morning before they play with friends or each other. I read aloud, a classic, every morning. Gracie chose the first book for this summer yesterday, "Island of the Blue Dophins". I figure that they can real all the Judy Bloom, Amelia Bedelia and other series books on their own. That's what they would choose everytime. So many great books are overlooked today because of books like "the Magic Treehouse" and "Captain Underpants". Newbury Winners are always great choices for read alouds! The babes actually look forward to reading time! We also buy them books all summer... as soon as they complete a book, they get to choose a new one. Borders loves us!
- Another great idea for summer is to purchase a beach towel for each child. That's the only one that they get to use for outside water play. It saves me from having to wash towels fifteen times a week. They are far more likely to take care of it if they know that it's the only one they get...especially after they had to use it wet or grassy once or twice! (I know, I'm so mean!)
- Type up lists and place them where they can be seen with instructions and your expectations of chores. Don't just say, "Your room has to be clean before you can play." Say, Clean your room: Make the bed. Put away all clothes. Desktop clean. Dirty clothes in the hamper. Nothing under the bed, in the floor of the closet or on the chair. " Be specific. Do this for dishes, bathrooms, picking up the yard... If they have your expectations clearly stated, they can't say "I didn't know." The chores are done before they get to play... helping keep some semblance of order all summer long!
- ROTATE the chores! I make a chart with chores that need to be done and everyone has a few each day that are above and beyond the regular "Make your bed, clean your room" chores. Such as, laundry sorting, van de-junking, getting the mail.... The chart hangs all summer in the kitchen and they can look and see that on Wednesday, they have to do these three things plus the regulars before they play. It's so nice to say, "Did you do your jobs?" before you tell them yes to anything else. They want to get it done so that they can relax and enjoy the rest of the day.
- Uh-oh jar... I've typed up a list of little odds and ends that need to be done. Most are simple three minute type chores... collect the dirty laundry and sort it into the laundry room, take out three wastebaskets, empty the dishwasher, clear the van of anything that shouldn't be there.... Then, if we have arguing, whining, complaining, they get to draw a paper and do the task. It's easier than yelling at them. Just a simple, "Pick a task." and they stop quickly because if they don't, they get to pick two!
- Rewards, rewards, rewards! Use rewards and goals... if we get all this done, if we don't argue for the whole day, if everyone helps in the yard.... we get to go to the matinee, get Root Beer ice cream cones at A&W, make s'mores on the fire tonight... It works better than telling them what they didn't do! BUT STICK TO YOUR GUNS!! I also filled a large gumball machine with candies for the summer. This is a quick, "Way to go!" reward system that we're trying this summer. If someone goes the extra mile and does something above and beyond, they get to grab a quarter from my money jar and buy a treat from the machine. Fun stuff for them!
- HAVE FUN!!! RELAX!!! DON'T STRESS OVER THE SMALL STUFF!!! (This is the hardest one for me! But, I'm working on it!)
Let the fun begin!!!
The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.