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."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!
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