Wednesday, June 30, 2010

in an effort to save my sanity

I'm sure all of you parents out there (besides teachers!) will agree with me when I say that summer is the most difficult time of the year as far as parenting goes. The kids are home from school for 2 1/2 l-o-n-g months and the fighting, whining, complaining, bickering, etc. is constant.

(How many more days left until school starts again??)

For my friends south of the border, you've already had a few weeks of summer holidays -- but for us, we just started. In fact today is our first official day of summer holidays in our house. Joelle had her last day of Grade 1 (which was a field trip) on Monday and then I worked on Tuesday, which meant that the kids were at my Mom's. So today is the official debut for us.

In preparation to help combat the ugliness that invariable ensues while they get used to being together 24/7 again, I've been brainstorming some ideas to put into practice.

And they begin today.

My first idea was to come up with a "Banish Boredom Bucket." It's a simple idea, but it comes with rules. Basically whenever the girls complain about being bored -- out comes the "Banish Boredom Bucket."

Inside of the bucket are numerous ideas of things for them to do. The picture doesn't really make it look like there's that many suggestions in there, but there really are quite a few.

I was quite specific about the ideas too. Not just "Go play outside." Here is a list of examples:

*Play Hopscotch
*Play Horseshoe
*Ride bikes around the block
*Draw with sidewalk chalk
*Jump on the trampoline
*Play a board game
*Play restaurant
*Play school
*Make a card for someone
*Do puzzles
*Play Dance Studio
*Play Camping

And the list goes on and on. I wanted to make all of these ideas things that they could do independently. Not to say that I won't ever do things together with them -- but if I am in the middle of something (i.e. cleaning bathrooms, making supper, etc), I want the idea they pull out of the bucket to be something they can do without my help if I am unavailable.

So, here are the rules:

#1: One child picks the idea out of a bucket (I'll explain below how that person will be chosen)

#2: The other child gets to pick specifics. For example -- if Malia chooses "Play a board game" then Joelle gets to choose which game. If it's Joelle's turn to pick and she picks out "Play horseshoe", then Malia gets to decide who goes first, etc.

#3: Whatever is chosen -- THEY HAVE TO DO IT. Weather permitting, of course. If it's pouring rain and they pick "Draw with sidewalk chalk"...obviously I'll let them pick again.

#4: No complaining! They helped me come up with every idea in the bucket, so they know they're all fun. Nothing in there is supposed to be a punishment; they're just ideas to help get them going.

The other idea I had was to help combat more fighting. Some of you may recall I did this a couple of years ago and it was so successful that I'm bringing it back!

It's a chart to show who gets to choose what from one day to the next. Each girl gets to be in charge of 3 things one day and then the next day they switch it up by me moving their picture from one column to the next. Here is what this summer's list looks like:

**Disclaimer: I realize it looks like they watch TV all morning, all afternoon and all evening -- but I assure you, that is not the case (although I will admit that they likely watch more TV than necessary). My plan is to let them watch no more than 1 hour in the morning (it all depends on what time they get up) and 30 minutes before bed. There are no items in the "Banish Boredom Bucket" that have anything to do with TV or even playing computer.**

The other thing I want to implement is a Chore Chart. I haven't quite decided what to all put on there, but I do know that kids crave structure -- even in summertime! So just a few simple things that they know are expected of them -- making their beds, helping set the table, keeping the basement tidy, etc. -- will play a part this summer too. And these chores will also be something that carry on all year round. Les and I have talked about introducing regular, consistent chores for a couple of years already, but somehow it just never actually got started. If you have any suggestions of things that are good chores for an almost-5 and almost-7 year old, fill me in!

Other than that, I do plan on making sure that I spend more time with them too. My computer housework can always get put aside for awhile. This morning we already went to the school playground with friends, and I hope to do more of that this summer. As well as take them to a nearby splash park (which is free!!) and do lots of baking together, reading, visit friends, play games and make crafts with them.

I do know for a fact that the busier I am -- whether it's with things that legitimately need to get done, or spending too much time on the computer -- the more they act out. So I need to do my part in keeping the peace around here too!

So that is my plan of attack for this summer. Wish me luck!! And if you have any other suggestions for me, I'm all ears!! Here's to a wonderful, fun-filled, fight-free (?) summer!!


LaughingLady said...

Oooo, I LOVE the "bordom bucket" idea! I may have to steal that one from you. I like how you've got the little chart where you can switch who does what on which day. I'm thinking that would work well for days when I want help with dishes or meal prep, but only want ONE little helper in the kitchen! Great plans!

LaughingLady said...

Dang it, I KNEW "bordom" looked funny, but I didn't realize why until after I hit PUBLISH. Man, I hate looking like I don't know how to spell!!

Roo said...


Melissa said...

Great ideas sweets, I may use this in the future:)

TammyIsBlessed said...

You're so much nicer of a mom than I am. Usually if the girls say they're bored they have to do chores. :)

Maybe I'll change my philosophy - we'll see ;)

Jody said...

Oh I love your ideas!!!! I really like the boredom bucket and the chart! What creative ideas. What a great mom. My kids wash their finger prints off the patio door with windex and paper towels, dust the living room (whatever they can reach!), empty the cutlery tray from the dishwaher into the drawer and also wipe down sinks and vanity in the bathroom. They are 3 & 5 so it's not alway done very well, but it gets them doing something!

Jamie said...

I love those ideas--I think we'll do a boredom bucket as well!

My kids have chore charts too. Some chores for my 4 and 5 year olds are ones you suggested, as well as 'help mom,' (anything I deem helpful they get a sticker for, like calming/playing with the baby when he's crying and I'm busy, clearing the table of colouring before supper, putting some groceries away, etc), laundry (sorting clothes, throwing them in the washing machine, transferring to dryer), and playing quietly during 'quiet time.' Not really a chore, but they get a sticker for doing well. I found that after several months of the same chart with the same stickers we need to change it up because the motivation isn't really there anymore. The excitement is gone. So my next plan is to have small laminated pictures of themselves doing each chore and, when the chore is completed, they move that specific picture to the 'completed' hook or basket.