Kobierecki_pamelaSummer is here and a parent’s mind turns to keeping the kids busy.  We all know the worst-case scenario of summer: kids sleeping until noon, messing up the house, playing video games, watching TV until their eyes glaze over … Mom and Dad start wondering if year round school is an option.  My friends and I have been discussing the summer routine and have a few good ideas to keep the whole family happy.

Summertime chores need to have a place in the daily routine.  Kids need to feel like they are a part of the team.  Everyone’s help is needed to keep the house running smoothly.  Trust me, unless you want to raise a complete narcissist, kids need to have age appropriate responsibilities.  One of my friends turned me on to a great website www.myjobchart.com which parents can use to assign point values to chores and then plan out rewards that can be purchased for earned points.  One thing I really liked about using this system was that we changed TV and video game time into rewards to be earned, therefore, my kids automatically are spending less time in front of a screen.  Also, my own little twist is that kids only get points for doing a job if it’s done without complaining or nudging.  For example, the other night my little guys didn’t want to set the table and said, "Well, we don’t care that we won’t get the points."  My reply was, "Well, now you still have to set the table, but you won’t receive points because you gave me a hard time about it." Another hint to doing any type of rewards-based system is that parents have to be diligent to deliver on promised rewards or the kids will think your whole plan is bogus.  In other words, don’t promise a reward that will be too expensive or too time consuming for you to fulfill.  Everyone does their jobs, then everyone-including mom and dad- get to have some fun!

Another great idea for summer is to plan some fun activities.  My friend, Erika, is a high school principal and she always says, "It doesn’t matter what you do with your kids, just do something!"  You may think that you can’t afford to give you kids a great summer, but let me tell you, the best things in life are free. My husband, three kids and

I live in a second story, two bedroom apartment, but I manage to get them outside everyday. Check out the public playgrounds and parks in your area.  We’ve been to every park within a 30 minute drive of our apartment. We pack up our peanut butter sandwiches and some water and we are on our way!  My kids especially love the parks with creeks or splash parks. Getting them outside for a walk, a kickball game, a parade on their bikes, or a run through the sprinkler will give them exercise and fun. Did you ever notice how your kids behave better when they are given opportunities to run around and get their energy out? (as a teacher, this is a reason why I believe in recess!)  You may not do Disney this summer, but simple pleasures pay off big with children.

So, I wish you a wonderful summer vacation. One that includes some work and some play.  One that will create beautiful memories for you and your kids.  And one that makes you wish summer was longer-not shorter.

Copyright 2010 Pamela Kobierecki