Schoooool's out for sum-mer! What a great song. I'm pretty sure that even if you don't like it, or really know it, every child (and some adults) has belted out the chorus while running to the bus on the last day of school. As a former school teacher, even we had a last day of school ritual...for teachers. This included the "running of the Lex" (one of the best teachers I have ever met running up and down the halls, getting the teachers psyched up, high fives, cartwheels music, and laughing,) followed by libations in the South Side of Pittsburgh. I would head home and have about 2 days to myself before my kids were finished with their year and would take this time to regroup and relax. As a teacher, you are most likely home for the entire summer with your children; free reign, running a muck, swimming, park, playing. It can get crazy. I hated being that parent that was thinking, "How much longer until school starts?" "These kids are driving me crazy" To fix that, we put in place a schedule.
Now before you start judging me and thinking I am a crazy strict momma with kids in a million structured activities, that's not the kind of schedule I'm talking about. Hear me out,.
First, I think kids should be kids. Don't get me wrong, and I am HUGE believer that sports and activities help a child develop and our children participate in several. My husband and I both played competitive sports forever. I, personally, don't want my kids having structured activities planned for them every day...it kills the imagination. I also don't want to have to drive to karate, then guitar, then swim practice, baseball, etc. When is it time for them to enjoy being a kid?
SO what's up with this schedule, right? Scheduling started a few summers back when I got sick of hearing, "Can I watch TV?" "There is nothing to do", and all of the other BS lines our kids hand us. Guess what? Kids like structure. They link knowing that there is a plan. They like to know what is happening tomorrow. Now they know what to expect. Plus, this year, I work from home. Yes, I do home parties and events and those days/evenings, I am not home. BUT, the majority of the time at home, I am making phone calls, emailing customer, possible recruits, putting training together, I take training myself and keeping in touch with my team. These are all work activities that are totally doable while the kids are at school. So now what do I do?
We sat down as a family and hashed it out. We decided what weekly chores the kids should be in charge of. These chores require minimum or no direct supervision from my husband and me. (The K stands for karate) We display this on the refrigerator. Nothing fancy. A piece of paper and a sharpie. Boom! Done! Both kids are responsible for 1 chore. That means that they have to work together. This also helps with problem solving. Laundry is either helping me fold or put away only because I just don't think they are ready to handle the ACTUAL laundry on their own. Garbage comes Friday so they collect the garbage Thursday night. Daddy cuts grass on Sunday so we pick up the sticks in the yard (we live on an acre of land surrounded by trees) and the dog poo on Saturday. The HARDEST part of this chore schedule is my husband. Yep! He tends to just start doing things himself instead of reminding the kids to do it. We will be working on that this summer too.
Here is our second list. Again, piece of paper and sharpie. I tried the cutesy, PInterest magnet boards, chore charts blah, blah, blah. It didn't work for our family. Plus it's super time consuming and business has been good (thank you Pink Zebra). I don't have time to make a simple chore chart all fancy schmancy.
There are certain activities and/or daily living skills that we require our children to do every day.
- Get dressed
- Brush teeth
- Make bed
- 20 mins of reading
- 20 mins of math
- Help with dinner (set table or help prepare)
Again, this schedule for the kids helps gives them lose structure and also helps me organize my day. I have a soon to be 3rd grader and a soon to be kindergartner. The little one can't sit down quiet yet and read a book, but she has a Tag Reader. Twenty minutes of reading equates to a quiet 20 mins of follow up phone calls for mommy to make. Math is on the computer. I am in LOVE with Khan Academy. (www.khanacademy.org.) It's great for all ages, even adults. Math and Reading are at opposite times for the kids so I can use one of the computers for work. We also "schedule" play time. I use 1 hour increments because this gives me 45 mins to get work done. The last 15 mins of the hour, I play too! Remember, I'm that mom that withholds TV in the summer, so we do have a list of activities that the kids can do during play time to avoid the "I'm bored, there is nothing to do " woes. After dinner, it's family time. We may do an activity, play outside, watch a movie (remember, not TV), etc but it's down time and works for our crazy group.
By writing everything down for the kids, we all feel more in control. They know what needs to be completed throughout the day and they don't have to be told all the time. It makes the kids feel more independent and cuts down on this mom nagging. BUT, it is summer and it should be fun for the little monsters (an us!)
This year, I have added something new to the summer routine. I am not sure if I am going to regret the new addition or not but it's worth a shot. Throughout the summer, one day a week, I will not say no to my children. Think about it. They hear "no" more often than any other word. So for one day a week, I will do what they want to do. There are a few stipulations: Must be safe. Must be free (stay tuned for free things to do with kids) . Must not break any house rules (or any rules, really). If they want pizza for breakfast...Done. They want to stop and go fishing...Doing it. Road trip to a bizarre landmark...Heck yeah! How does this benefit the kids? Well, they have to work together (that is the theme for our summer). They also have to figure out different things to do. Both kids are pretty tech savvy, our son more than our daughter. They will have to use their computer time to find free things to do. If they want to take a road trip, they will have to do the math, figure it out and tell us about it, which will help them with real world situations using technology, math and reading. I have to admit, I am excited for the adventures that we will have and I can't wait to see what the kids come up with. Who know, maybe I'll let them write the article.