Summer Organizing: Getting kids to do more | Organizing Made Fun: Summer Organizing: Getting kids to do more

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Organizing: Getting kids to do more

When summer comes, naturally we think of free-spirited days. Days filled with nothing to do, any place we want to go, and no work that must be done. But, in reality, that doesn't happen.

What happens is you hear "I'm bored..." or "I have nothing to do"....well, on the days we don't plan things out. I'm a big believer in schedules, even in summer. But, I usually have "no schedule" the first couple of weeks of summer on purpose -- to get all that free-spiritedness out of our systems. I still have to work, even though I have two kids home bouncing off the walls. And, I'm happy to have other kids over or take my kids to others' homes to hang out, have drop-off playdate. However, my kids know that come summer, they will be doing more work. Why? Because they have more time and there is more to get done!

Teach them to do more...

It started a few months ago when my husband noticed I was feeling overwhelmed with trying to do so much and work from home. I did throw the "I can't do it all" line at him and he said - then find someone to help you get it all done. It was like a switch went off in my head -- here I was folding and doing my kids' laundry, when they were fully capable of doing that. That very next laundry day, I told the kids after school to come to the laundry room - they were now in charge of folding all their own clothes. I gave them a lesson in folding. I had to let go of the idea that it didn't look like I did it, and would probably not look as pretty when it was in their drawers

Don't expect perfection...

They had folded clothes before, but this time it was now all on their own. My son, who is now 14, is getting to do all his own laundry - all of it. A teenage boy produces a lot of laundry. He had to choose a day that I didn't do laundry and I taught him all the "how-to's" of what goes where. He took notes. He's on his own now. I should've done it sooner. My daughter will be doing hers probably starting next summer, although she knows how to do the laundry, I figured I at least need to wait a year since I didn't make him do it at this age! Ha, ha! Letting go of the idea that things have to be perfect is the first thing I had to do when giving the kids more responsibilities.

Give them more opportunities...

We also have extra chores they have to choose from each summer - organize a drawer, clean off nightstand, go through closet drawers, extra cleaning that must be done. Again, I can't do it all! I was trying to get much done one morning before we headed to the amusement park, it suddenly dawned on me that my son could pack snacks. So, I asked him to help me out and do them - I figured I would just live with whatever. He surprised me -- he was REALLY good at packing snacks. He labeled everything and picked foods each person would like! Had I not given him that opportunity, I wouldn't have known he could do that!

Be patient...

Having patience, being encouraging, and working with them multiple times will help it to be a much smoother transition. It's when we expect them to get something the first time or we just figure "forget it, it's easier if I do it myself" and then never have them help again. You have to be encouraging and know that you'll have to go over any task with your children multiple times. You're training your kids, just like you'd train someone at a new job. 

Why make kids do so much? Because it helps them to become independent, capable, responsible people. What do you think?

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