I know, I know. What cruel mother would use summer time to do chores? Isn't summer all about vacations and fun stuff? Well, I hate to say it, but the fact is even with the summer, I still need to do laundry, wash dishes, and grocery shop. As moms we may be able to get out of housework for a week or two, but it's not a permanent gig. (If you do, we'll need to talk.)
A couple of months ago, I put together an e-book for my email subscribers entitled Chore Time (I know, a boring title, so if you've got a better one, let me know), which outlined some principles of training kids on doing chores. (If you're not on my mailing list, see what you're missing?) I'm not going to go over all of that today, but for a limited time only, I am re-sharing the e-book in trade for your email, along with a bunch of other resources I have shared in the past.
Anyways, in the book, I make a case for training our kids to do chores at a young age, but let's face it: as great as the idea sounds, there really isn't much time to do it when the school year hits. That's why I suggest that you read the e-book and then carve out some time to teach your kids how to do them.
So let's say you're on board. What are some ways you can do this?
Make it special.
Okay, so chores aren't anything to get excited about. But maybe going out for ice cream afterwards is. I like the way that this mom has made time for training her kids. Pick out a few things you'd like your kids to do, do it together and then have a little treat afterwards. Keep the focus on relationship and time together and enjoy your kids! Don't focus on whether they "got" the chore or not.
Keep it short.
You'd be surprised how much you can accomplish in 15 minutes. It takes me less than 15 minutes to clean a toilet. Clearing the dishwasher definitely takes less time than that. Sorting clothes, wiping down the sink, sweeping the floor---all these things don't have to take a long time. We somehow think it takes longer than it needs to be. If it does, set the time and have the kids race the clock!
If we take the time to demonstrate and show them how to do it during a family time, then give them a chance to practice it, chances are your kids are going to get really good at it pretty quickly. If you're home with your kids all day in the summer, block out 15 minutes each morning and evening to have them practice or learn one chore. If each of you (including you!) is doing one thing, then you may be surprised at what you can accomplish!
Not sure what to do? See the Fly Lady's Kid's Challenge for a daily task or if you'd like to know what is appropriate for kids at different ages, check out this post from List PlanIt. There's bound to be something you can do! You'd be surprised at what kids can do if we let them.
Focus on training.
Since things get switched up during the school year anyway, don't worry so much about bogging yourself down with creating a chore rotation. The goal of training is just that---making sure your kids can do the job to your level of satisfaction without you constantly checking. When they are able to do the chore to that level, schedule another fun training time, learn a new chore together and celebrate with a treat. Practice throughout the week in your 15 minute chore breaks to keep the skill fresh. Repeat the process throughout the summer.
Then when school rolls around, your kids will have hopefully learned a good collection of chores. As you seek to establish your school routines, you can either assign kids chores or put them on a rotation. Your kids will know how to do it already and you will not have to stop to train them. Each summer, add something new and your kids' repertoire of skills will build.
As with anything else, learning how to do a task takes time. It takes repetition. It takes patience. These qualities are usually more abundant in the summertime than during the school year, so take advantage of it!
So what are you going to do first?