I love summer. It is such a fun time to spend with the kids, hangout and relax. We have a less stressful schedule, eat easy dinners and participate in fun, outside activities. With that said, I also despise summer. Gone is the simple structure of the school year. My kids get bored, act lazy and are unmotivated to do much other than swim, watch TV and eat. Keeping my kids busy and engaged over the summer is a challenge and I am always looking for new ideas.
A few things I’ve done to keep my kids busy in the summer include creating a list, turning on the music and setting a timer. Each week, I create a short list of 3 to 5 things I want both of my children to accomplish such as folding clothes, taking out the trash and cleaning up their rooms. Then we turn on some upbeat music, I set a timer and off they go to complete their tasks. The timer keeps them on task so they don’t get sidetracked, the music gets the energy flowing and the list gives them a sense of accomplishment as they cross off items one by one.
I also keep a running list of things I know they want. I try to ask questions to find out what things are important to them, and then I can use it to motivate them. For example, if they want to see a new movie that’s coming out, I’ll put that on my list. Or if there is a special snack they see on TV, I add it to the list. Then I’ll use this information to get my kids involved in chores.
Once I know what they really want to have or do, I’ll incorporate that knowledge in a way for my kids to earn rewards by getting things done around the house. I try to find both little things and big things that they want and then I’ll create a weekly achievement chart. Each week, they can earn points for finishing tasks or exuding behaviors I want to see from them. Each “prize” or thing that they want gets a point value and each task also has a point value. For example, a trip to the movies may cost 20 points and taking out the trash earns 5 points each time it is done. As they accumulate their points, they can exchange them for the prize they want.
It is fun to watch the healthy competition that comes out when the kids are motivated to get what they want. Sometimes, they even try to outdo each other to see who can earn the most points and win the biggest prizes. Maybe I really do love summer after all.