Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Chores & Summer Boredom

It's been my experience that while summer seems like a dream during the school year, transitioning to that dream can be a little bumpy.  I used to give the kids a week or two off without much routine and structure right after we finished school.  You know, to enjoy their summer break.  Trouble was, there wasn't much enjoyment going on.

Instead there was bickering and a general state of wandering around and appearing lost.  Picking on each other, asking for things and being grumpy were the favorite choice activities.

I'm in total favor of kids being bored.  I think it encourages creativity and gives them time to think.  It's hard for them at first- to have all sorts of free time- but soon they relax into it and get a chance to BE.  Don't we all just need a chance to BE?

That said, a little structure doesn't hurt either.  And by structure I don't mean me entertaining them.  I am not their camp counselor who will be chauffeuring them from activity to activity all summer.  I'm their mom- doing my best to teach them to get along with others, become responsible people and help them discover their God-given gifts (or at least I like to think that this is what I'm doing).

So the first day of real summer, the four of us sat down and had a little meeting.  We decided how our days at home would flow and made a list of the fun things we want to do this summer.  Summer can fly by fast and around here summer means a lot of garden/yard/animal/kitchen work.  Making space for the fun stuff is important so we all stop, relax and BE.

Jamey and I believe that having kids contribute in the day to day workings of the family is important.  Not only does it teach kids valuable skills, helps decrease the work load for the parents and teaches them responsibility, but we think it makes them feel good about themselves, too.  Sure, they might balk and complain, but we are showing them that they are an important and valuable part of this family.  They have purpose.  They can contribute.  They are appreciated.  We believe this encourages healthy self-esteem.  And we get to see it in their little faces when we affirm a job well done.

So chores are a very important part of our daily routine.  Getting them out of the way early starts their day off as productive members of the family and helps them value and appreciate free time later on.  Some of their chores (at the ages of 3, 7 and 10) are:

~ feeding the chickens
~ pumping water from the cistern to water the chickens along with extra water for others to use for...
~ watering blueberry bushes, bees, and other plants that might need a drink
~ helping to pick, snap, de-string, etc, produce from the garden
~ helping with all stages of the laundry process
~ taking out the trash
~ general picking-up
~ vacuuming
~ emptying the dishwasher
~ washing dishes
~ taking kitchen scraps out to the chickens
~ bringing in eggs
~ weeding (with some supervision so only the weeds get pulled)
~ carting off weeds/sticks to the brush pile

Each child does two (sometimes more or less) of these things each day.  There are also other things that get added to the list as they arise.  The idea is that these chores are done because we are all a part of the family and need to work together.  We don't link chores to money or allowance.

A little speech I try to give them when they ARE helping nicely is that when I have help, I am less tired and less grumpy and it makes me a happier mom.  This must have hit home because the other day, after scolding the kids for something-or-other, Sadie asked me if I needed help with anything.  Touche.

Don't be afraid to provide a little structure and ask your kids to help this summer.  It might be just what you all need. Pin It


  1. This is us, too!

    Just found your blog and loving it.

    One Mennonite Momma to another,

  2. I recently discovered your lovely blog. I don't have children, but this plan of yours sounds just right to me. Best wishes!

  3. Well said! Your children are blessed. Your little farmette seems the ideal place for children to grow and learn.

  4. amen! amen! amen! Did I say it loud enough?! It's so funny to me, too, because I just sat down to blog about this. We started off our summer so nicely because I established a structure that began the first day after school let out. It's pretty loose, but it's similar to yours and we are off to a very, very good start. I'm going to add the line you use about a happier mama when there's help :)

  5. Every once in awhile my kids want some sort of payment for an extra chore they've been asked to do. I tell them it's their job because they are part of the family. Their payment is food, shelter, and clothing. Now, I will "hire" them to do a special chore if they are looking to make some money for something special, but never for daily chores.

  6. LOVE that last photo! And I've tried so many chore systems-but I must say that I totally agree with you-it works so much better for my family to not link chores/household help with money. Just doing something because I ask, because it helps the family, because I said so, because it's an act of service, NOT because you "get something" seems the right way for us.


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