We stopped nagging our children about their homework weeks before school actually ended; and keeping a decent bedtime is increasingly more difficult as the sun stays in the sky just a bit longer each night.
Thankfully, summer is here, and most of us have really good intentions and a second-wind of purpose. We hope for family activities, organized fun, fight-free afternoons, stacks of finished books and swim towels that hang up themselves.
During summer break, we are trying to balance all the kids’ activities with our own — all the while knowing kids without a school schedule often means chaos in our homes. As parents, we can easily our lose sanity in the summer, and it won’t be long before we find ourselves burned out — again.
Keeping a system of organization with your kids and in your home this summer can help ward off that burned-out feeling a bit longer, but even those systems can seem daunting. What are some easy ways to create order?
Success starts with setting realistic expectations — both expectations of what we require from our kids as well as what our kids can expect from us, in terms of activities and support.
1. ‘The Dailies System’
The Dailies System uses predetermined set requirements to keep everyone on task each day. These requirements help kids to know which things need to happen before they can play. Some examples of daily activities would be to get dressed, brush teeth, comb hair, make bed, etc.
When my children were little, we called daily required activities “stars” because they coordinated with a star sticker on our chore chart. Now I call the activities “dailies” because I require my children to do them each day. What you call this set of daily requirements doesn’t matter as long as everyone is on board.
An added beauty of daily expected chores — the need for nagging is eliminated. When a child asks if they can play, all you have to say is, “Yes, as soon as your dailies are done.”
As parents, we should have summertime dailies too, even if we’ve limited our activities in the summer to accommodate the needs of our children. Think about the basic things you’d like to do each day and make your dailies list.
Taking action: Determine what daily activities you’ll require your kids to do. Post these daily expectations where your kids can see them. You can use a sticker chart, written list, magnet chore board, or whatever works best for your family.
2. Zones cleaning system
One great home system I learned online years ago is that of zone cleaning — breaking your house into different zones (not necessarily rooms). The FlyLady is a great resource for zone cleaning. Rather than do all the cleaning yourself, delegate it of course.
Put kids in charge of various areas of the house, or zones. Because my kids are elementary school age and younger, I’ve kept the kitchen as my zone and usually have a helper with the floor or dishes. In my home, each zone has to be clean before we can participate in fun activities.
I have found assigning zones increases accountability and ownership. Once again, it also helps eliminate nagging because the kids will start to police their zones and stop the clutter-droppers that violate their area.
Taking action: Determine how you’ll divide your home into zones. Assign a child to each zone. You can rotate zones daily or weekly.
3. Continued reading system
The best way to continue reading during the summer is to turn it into a game or contest.
If you want to keep things more simple, print out this summer reading bingo game by Artsy-Fartsy Mama and let your kids pick their rewards.
Taking action: Encouraging this reading system may necessitate a trip to the library, and then turn it over to the kids.
4. Strategized fun
It’s never long before I hear someone say, “Mom, I’m bored.”
I don’t believe it’s my job to entertain my children all summer. I’m not an event director, and their summer excitement should not hinge on me. That being said, every year we create a summer fun list with ideas of what we’d like to do as a family over the summer. I’ve even been known to include things on our list that I know we are already going to do, like watch fireworks or run through the sprinklers.
We keep our list low-key and may only mark one thing off a week. I would offer a word of caution: An incomplete list can haunt you and urge your children to whine about what they have not yet done.
Another idea to combat boredom would be to have each of your kids make a list of boredom-busters they can do by themselves or with a friend. When they beg for something fun to do, you can refer them to their very own ideas.
Summer break should be enjoyable for all of us. Hopefully a few of these systems will help make that happen. If by chance anyone figures out how to get the swim towels to really hang up themselves, please let me know.
This article originally published as Nicole’s regular column on KSL.com
Stock photo from freedigitalphotos.net