The summertime can be really fun. Vacations. Swimming. Sunshine. No school.
It can also be an unsettling time for some. If your kids go off to school from fall to spring, you may find yourself unsure of what to do when everyone is home. All. Day. Every. Day. Asking for snacks.
Not everyone is the same when it comes to summer planning.
Some people love having NO plans. Some people enjoy relaxing days or the ability to be spontaneous whenever. Some people love very loose schedules and some people love tight schedules.
At our house, our kids seem to do better when we have a schedule. It doesn’t have to be really strict, but when we aren’t busy with other summer plans (outings, VBS, camp) my kids like to know the basic plan for the day.
If the idea of your kids coming home for the summer fills you with dread, here’s a simple thing we’ve done at our house that has helped things go a little more smoothly:
We made a responsibility chart and a goal chart.
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What is a Responsibility Chart for Kids?
On our responsibility chart, we put things like chores, school work, etc. When they accomplish a task they get a sticker. After so many stickers they get a prize.
I like to do a mix of physical prizes and experiences/activities. For example, they might choose to get ice cream, go to the playground, or have an extra day of video games.
What is a Goal Chart for Kids?
A goal chart is very similar to the responsibility chart, but it’s more about big things the kids want to accomplish this summer.
Each time the kids do something towards their goal they earn a sticker.
My kids chose things like learning to swim and learning to ride their bikes. Each time they rode their bikes or practiced swimming, they got a sticker.
I felt like our kids were a little behind with learning to ride bikes by my boys BLEW ME AWAY by learning how to ride their bikes early in the summer!
I think allowing my kids to choose their own goals and then providing an incentive really motivated them to keep at it. It was really fun to watch as a parent.
How do you Make a Chart?
Things you’ll need:
- Poster Board
- Ultra Fine Tip Black Sharpie
- Ruler (I used my sewing ruler because it made it easier to make the boxes the same size)
Step One: Pencil in Lines
Next, draw in your vertical lines. Don’t draw vertical lines where you’re planning on writing in your kids’ names. You should also leave space on the left-hand side to write in their goals and responsibilities.
Step Two: Sharpie in the Lines
Step Three: Add Some Color!
What Kinds of Prizes Should You Give Your Kids?
The prizes you choose to give your kids is totally up to you and your kids, but here are some ideas from our house to yours.
Small physical prizes:
I loved them because they’re small wooden toys that inspire imaginative play.
I think that’s kind of the concept behind the Janod company. It’s a French company that started in 1970. I did not previously research whether or not the toys are sourced responsibly, but I sent a message and hope to hear back from the company. I will update this blog post when I have more information. (UPDATE: I never heard back from the company 🙁 If you have any information I’d love to hear from you!)
These sets are also available on Amazon since they’re no longer available on Hollar. My daughters still play with these sets a year later!
Other ideas for prize boxes include:
If you’re a minimalist or simply can’t stand the idea of adding any more toys or clutter to your home, you might choose activities instead of physical items.
Some fun ideas for this are:
Getting Ice Cream
Trip to the Playground
Special Time with One Parent
Extra Screen Time
Allowed to Stay Up Late
Doughnut or Pastry Trip
Trip to the Library
Trip to a Museum
Most of all… enjoy the summer. Enjoy the warm weather. Enjoy your children. Be patient with them and yourself. And after a lot of hard work for Moms and Dads, don’t forget to take time to reward yourself too. Moms and Dads need time to become refreshed and ready to serve their little (and big) ones once again.