Summertime Routine

Summer is here. And I love our relaxed schedule! Nowhere to go means we can't be late anywhere. The kids can play all day long. A lot of reading, coloring, creating, and playdates. Different friends coming every day to see the bunnies. Lots of jumping on the tramp in back, and riding bikes out front. Playing at the park. Too many popsicles. Bubbles. Dirty feet. And baths.  

But with the relaxed schedule, I also want to have more structure in place. When I was visiting my brother's family this past weekend, I observed that a home with order is a happy home. When children know the expectations (i.e., the morning routine), they know how to succeed. I've been thinking of the following scripture and how can apply to the home:
"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God."                             
                                         --Doctrine & Covenants 88:119 
So lately, one of my favorite topics of conversation with other moms has been finding out what structure they have in place for summer mornings and evenings. What chores do their children do, if any? What do they need to do before they can play? How do they motivate them? Do they use charts and rewards? And how well does it go? 

What works for one family won't necessarily work for another. Still, it is worthwhile to get ideas from others. I was inspired and more motivated when I heard what some other families do. I prayed for guidance in creating our family plan. And I was able to come up with a simple chart that we will use for the summer. We used a "rough draft" this week, but next week it will be made in Word and printed up. 

Here it is (wrinkles, food stains, marks and all):

The basic idea is that each child has a few things to do as they get ready for the morning: get dressed, make bed, brush teeth, clean room, feed the bunnies or water the flower pots (they will trade off for these every week), do an inside chore, like unload the dishwasher or fold laundry, and practice the violin or piano. They are also expected to say their morning prayers and get their hair done, but they don't get a check for those. For each item, they can earn 1-3 points. 1 is for doing it. 2 is for doing it without complaining. 3 is for doing it without complaining, and before 10:00. 

They are motivated to get all the points they can because they are trying to earn certain rewards. Once they reach 20 points (day 1 or 2) they get a fun game with Daddy. At 50 points (day 3 or 4) they can watch a Disney show or play PBS kids computer games. At 100 checks (day 6, Saturday) they can choose something from the dollar store or make cookies with mommy. Each week, we will change up the rewards a bit to keep it exciting. For example, for 100 points, they will be able to earn swimming, having a lemonade stand, making a hair accessory with mom, buying a treat from the ice cream man, or doing other fun activities as a family. I like that they aren't earning money. They just aren't old enough to really need it yet. If they ask to earn money, we will let them do additional jobs once their basic responsibilities are done.

So far, it's going great! Our slow-to-get-ready child is faster than I've ever seen. Our complainer is no longer complaining. We get it all done by 10am and then we can be spontaneous and fun the rest of the day. They are happier because they are achieving. And as a mom, I am happier when I have responsible children!

What have you done to provide structure to your summer days? What is working well for your morning routine? I'd love to hear other success stories!

Image found at www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net 


  1. I'm a sucker for a good schedule. We don't have anything specific to the summer, since we aren't in school yet. But K's morning routine is getting dressed and "scriptures and prayer, teeth and hair." (It rhymes.) When she gets in her toddler bed later this summer, we're going to add in making her bed.

    1. That's cute! Simple, and with a rhyme! We didn't have any type of routine when our girls were younger, so I am impressed. I think it's so much easier to start out while they are young. And adding one more thing at a time shouldn't be too hard.

  2. We give our kids absolutely no compensation or rewards for doing chores. It's just something we expect them to do as part of the family, and they do quite a few. One thing I do do, is work along side them, having the youngest ones do small things to help me. I discovered long ago, that work is a great thing to do with kids, and they love responsibility and getting to do things they see mom doing like vacuuming, Cleaning the toilet, loading the wash machine, wiping the table, cleaning the windows, weeding, folding laundry, etc. I've had to get light vacuums and child friendly cleaning supplies (vinegar&water), but it's been worth it.

    We also give the kids (a very small) allowance. Not because they need it, but because we want to teach them wise money management. Sure, you can do this later, but it's nice to be able to say, "Did you bring your money?" or "Do you have enough for that?" when they ask for something.

    I read a very good book (would have to find it's name) that taught kids money management, where kids earn extra on top of their allowance by doing extra chores, but eventually everything from parents is phased out by around age 12, when they're able to babysit, mow lawns, etc. It had LOTS of good ideas for raising financially independent adults (and practically teens) kind of wish
    I'd been raised that way ... I'll try to find the book when I have some time.

  3. Found it quick: the parenting breakthrough: a real-life plan to teach your kids to work, save money, and be truly independent by Merrilee Browne boyack. She teaches a class on it at education week.

    1. Thanks, Chelsea! I loved hearing how you do things. I know another family who does it similarly to you, and I'm guessing they may have read that book too, or heard her speak. Thanks for finding the title for us! I look forward to reading it some time.

      I agree that the kids should just do work around the home with no rewards, just because they are part of the family. At the same time, my kids do so well with something to work toward, or something fun to look forward to when they are done. And I like the simple rewards we have in place for our young kids, but it could get out of hand when they are older if we feel we have to reward them all the time. I guess since we are still trying to figure out our stance on allowance, earning money, etc., it's good to try different approaches at different stages, until we find what works best for us. That's what this is all about, right? Trial and error, and learning along the way!

      I also love that you work alongside your kids. I know my kids are so much more willing when I am there to help. And I remember being overwhelmed with certain jobs when I was young. But some times I just want them to do things on their own, or I worry that I am "handicapping" them when I help. Your comment helped me realize that I should just be willing to help so that they enjoy it, instead of hate it.

      Thanks again for sharing!

  4. I love your little chart! I'm still trying to tweek things to get my kids going in the morning! But I do agree, everything runs smoother when there is routine and the kids know what is expected!!

  5. This is so great Jen! I also love that they are earning things that are not money...plenty of time for that! Thanks for sharing.

  6. That's a really cute idea Jen. The one thing I have learned over and over again is that flexibility is a must. I wish that we could come up with one system and it would work every time for every child but so far that hasn't been my experience. Our older girls are motivated by $ but that doesn't seem to work as well with the younger ones. I'm going to try this with the twins. It sounds great. I love the reward for no complaints.

  7. Yeah, I can see how that is true, especially with kids of different age groups, but also just because of their personality. Millie and Grace are very different, and they are motivated differently. I just hope all our children can acquire a common understanding about work and responsibility in the home.