Long about 3 months ago, I took stock of the coming summer months and realized I was crap-screwed. School was ending, and with it, the delicate tether to schedule and order that keeps me from piddling away time online while the kids play Angry Birds and we all pitifully hang out in our pajamas until 4pm.
We had this glorious gift of TIME upon us. Gorgeous days of sunshine and childhood that were made to be spent well and not wasted fruitlessly. I wanted to have fun with them this summer. I wanted to play and do things we would remember.
I’ve learned that with my personality, I can’t ever really relax and enjoy things until I feel like some responsibilities are addressed. It’s such a carefree lifestyle, I know. This means, to have a “good” day in my book, I need to cross a few things off the list so I feel freed to truly delight in play. Otherwise, I spend my evenings grouching over having fussy, dull days of nothingness.
Not to mention, there were things that actually needed to happen this summer. I am nervous upon nervous for my son’s entry into 1st grade, and when the school “strongly suggests” he bone up on his reading skills, you’d better believe this mama is going to do everything she can to make that happen.
Also, I think there’s something solid to be said for brushing teeth every day, no matter how bohemian-relaxed you are in all other regards of cleanliness. And I’m not exaggerating when I say this teeth cleaning wouldn’t happen unless I checked myself. I must make it an intentional point to rock some of these tasks or it’s not going to happen.
So, it was time to get organized. Time to find a solution. I thought, I pondered, I Pinterest-ed. And suddenly those chore charts that I spent the early years of my kids’ lives eschewing didn’t seem so very crazy. In fact, they seemed incredibly smart.
To be clear: this is NOT a sponsored post. I don’t have any dedicated belief that one chore chart over another is better. And I know that far craftier gals create brilliant homemade versions. I went with the Melissa and Doug version for the sole reason that Melissa and Doug has never failed me and that I will never be a crafty girl.
And this is the very real-life account of how the chore chart saved our summer:
1) I ordered two of this chart. Two because I have two kids, and it seemed far easier and clearer for them to each have their own.
2) I made it seem like Christmas morning when the charts arrived. I talked them up to be better than sliced bread and got the kids really excited.
3) I filled in slots with things I knew needed to happen this summer: Reading Eggs (an online reading program my kids love that teaches skills), homework (I am not totally insane: I made my son do only one sheet/day of the ginormous packet his teacher sent home for the summer), practicing piano (again, not insane: I will take 5-10 minutes/day), brushing teeth and getting dressed.
4) I filled in the rest with things we are shooting for: keeping hands to ourselves, not whining (Please God), putting toys away, etc. Note that most of these are small tasks and often intangible: this is summer, a time of kicking back–not huge demands.
5) I threw the kids in the minivan and trekked us to Target. I set them loose in the dollar aisle (Have I mentioned I love the Target dollar aisle? LOVE IT) I told them to choose prizes they’d like to get throughout the summer. I spent less than $30 and came home and threw all the loot in a bag.
6) Every week, if they marked off enough boxes on their chore charts, they got to grab one of their prizes out of the bag. Let’s be honest, it’s summer, as long as they have a sizeable number of checks on their charts, they’re getting a prize. Read: they will get a prize every week for motivation’s sake, but they don’t know this.
Final story: yes, there are days we forget about the chore charts altogether (I think this is a healthy thing), but there are many more days they inspire us to get a few important things done and then go play the rest of our summer days away. The kids think it’s really cool to see a tangible reward for their efforts–things like setting the table and doing a sheet of homework feel like a huge effort to them in the summer months. The charts motivate them to keep going and teach them basic principles of time management.
Moreover, these chore charts serve as a semblance of order and purpose to days which could so easily be otherwise lost. For us they are a total win. A saving grace of sanity in the otherwise mess of this child-rearing gig. Count me in!
For another sanity win in adding some order to your day, check out my new VProud conversation on whether it’s smart to host a playdate at your house!
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