During the school year, my husband and I often find ourselves running around like crazy people. We wake early, walk the dog, make breakfasts, get the kids ready and shuttle everyone out the door – all before 7:30 a.m. In the afternoons and evenings, we make our way home from work, shift gears to homework and after-school activities and try to keep atop household maintenance.
We need help! So this summer, I’ve decided we’re bringing in reinforcements – our kids.
In the madness of the fall, it’s too late and stressful to encourage them to do more for themselves. But in the summer, they have time, we have time and we can all take a beat to learn, mess up and try again.
In just the past few weeks – depending on the morning – my husband or I have trained my seven-year-old how to use the microwave, make his own breakfast and clean up and load his dishes. Sure, he burned a bunch of microwave pancakes along the way, but now he’s a pro.
We’re also working with my 10-year-old on using a knife to cut fruit and make his own lunch. I see laundry lessons in the near future, and the dog could benefit from a few more walks. Oh yes, and he is doing some mid-week vacuuming. Yay for me!
As for my youngest – she is almost four – we’re keeping it simple. She often fights us on putting her toys away, but she’s dressing herself more often, and we’re making progress on taming the tantrums.
The kids don’t realize it, but we’re in essence doing a mini-boot camp this summer, trying to encourage and teach them to do more on their own. My hope is that by the time the school year starts, they will all be a little more efficient with these tasks and in turn a lot more helpful around the house. Score for mom and dad, and really score for them. As I see it, we’re not doing them any favors by doing everything for them.
Last summer, we conquered potty-training with the youngest, taught my middle child to finally tie his own shoes and got the older one doing some basic chores.
Don’t get me wrong. My kids have loads of fun during the lazy days of summer. Afternoons are filled with play, camps, reading, video games and beyond, but the additional leisure time and fewer activities provide the right atmosphere to introduce some new skills for them to handle. And honestly, the kids are kind of excited to feel so grown up … most of the time.
Do you use the summer months to teach your kids some new life skills?
How are they enjoying their summer months?