I have a love/hate relationship with Summer Chores. I love them because because they give my kids the chance to practice responsibility and learn new skills and I get some help with the housework. And I hate them because it really would be easier, faster and quieter just to do it all myself. But then I remember that I do not want my kids to be like my husband’s college roommate that didn’t know how to wash dishes or clean a bathroom, so we plug through summer chores everyday.
Here are a some summer chore tips:
- I don’t pay my kids for chores. Doing work is what you do when you are part of the family. Mom doesn’t get paid to make you breakfast, you don’t get paid to clean it up.
- Set a dead-line for chores to be completed and then set a consequence if they’re not. Our goal is to have chores done by 10 am so then we can go play. If their chores aren’t done, they don’t play. (I realize this is much more complicated than it sounds and I am still working out the kinks.)
- Try not to have the kids’ chores interdependent on each other. For example, I don’t have one kid clean the living room and another one vacuum it. Then the vacuumer is waiting on the cleaner before he can get his chore done and that is a recipe for a fight.
- Make sure chores are measurable and final. “Be nice to your brother” is not a chore; “Make your bed” is.
- Don’t give too many chores. I once saw a chart with over 20 chores on it- way too much. We do 10 chores (and that is pushing it) because some can hardly be called chores. Set the number depending upon age level and chore difficulty.
- My kids keep the same chores all summer. This way I can more easily remember who is responsible for what, and they have time to really get efficient and skilled at their chores. Plus no one can ride off someone else’s work from the week before- they own that chore that summer.
- I try to fit most of the kids’ chores “in the pocket”- that place where the chores aren’t so easy that the kids feel babied, but not too hard so they get discouraged. I do throw a few freebies in the chore list early on so they can have some success and gain some momentum- like ‘Take Vitamins” and “Get Dressed”, then they usually have 1-2 challenging chores (see next point), but the rest of the chores are “in the pocket”.
- I use chores as a way for my kids to learn new skills each summer. I gave them a few choices on what skill they wanted to learn; Crew chose to master the art of emptying the dishwasher- top to bottom. And Elle opted to learn how to change Locke’s diaper and get him dressed every morning instead of cleaning the bathroom. These new skills challenge them and are out of the pocket.
- Kids have to be trained to do the job you want them to do. I use the last few weeks of school to train them on their new summer skill/chore. First, I model what is to be done talking them through the process. Second, we do it together with lots more brain chatter. Third, they do it while I watch and check their work, and finally, they are on their own. I have spent the last few days training Croft to wipe bathroom sinks. This training might take a week or it might take a month, but I would rather spend the time now to get it right than nagging over poor jobs the rest of the summer.
- I repeat some chores from the summer before because I don’t want to waste good training. Both Elle and Crew are watering plants again because we took the time to learn it well last year.
- We are officially in chore trial week where I learn what works and what doesn’t and if my expectations are reasonable. I usually end up adjusting their chore charts after the first week. I can already tell any chore involving Locke is going to need to be reconsidered (he is uncooperative) and Croft’s list is going to need pictures on it and maybe a few less chores. (She cried for 10, but I ain’t got all morning.) Give your family a test week and then reassess. Don’t be afraid to be flexible.
- The last chore everyday is called “Mom’s Choice”. This is my favorite chore because it allows me to respond to the needs of that day. It is also a good time for them to do chores that don’t need to be done everyday like putting away laundry or emptying garbages.
As far as the actual chart goes, I just made a table on my computer and print it off each week. I can revise it as needed. We tape them to the inside of our cupboards. They use stickers, markers, or crayons (which they keep in the cupboard) to check chores off .
My friend swears by myjobchart.com. You assign jobs and set rewards, and kids log in, do chores, and then earn points to save, spend or share. I think it sounds great for older kids or families that are more into computers than me.
Good luck! And let me know if you have any summer chore tips!