It is easy for chores to fall off in the summer. With four weeknights of activities and a fifth with a weekly family date, not a lot over the general necessity cleaning gets done in the week. The two nights our activities end early we usually end up at the park or playing road hockey until dark out front.
Our house is lived in all summer with my husband and son being home in the day. We also have a dog and a cat. While my husband makes all the meals, prep and cleans up, and throws laundry in when needed – a uniform or swimwear is always needing to be done – on top of keeping the house presentable (ensuring toys are returned to their place or origin) and everyone generally cleaning up after themselves, I don’t expect much more in the week cleaning wise.
We also continue with a much shorter modified learning program during the summer, to keep things fresh, which dad administers during the day. Aside from his week of camp and one other week, they do a little schooling (reading, writing or math) each day. To me this is more important than wiping down the walls, with the remainder of their time spent outside or making other summer memories.
We catch up on weekends or rainy days, and we vacuum up the pet hair every week, but we have decided this fall to keep us accountable and on track with everything (more organized and scheduled) we are going to create a family chore chart. We are dividing things up and giving more responsibilities to our son too. We’ve briefly started asking him to do some harder chores this summer to see how he fairs and when they’ve been easily manageable we noted he is capable of taking them on. He is always eager to help so we expect he will still help while we tackle other chores he deems fun like watering plants, but we are going to rely on him for a few areas to be independently responsible for.
- Front door area. He is in charge of keeping it neat and tidy. We have systems in place that make it really easy for him – hat rack, shoe trays, his height hooks, pockets – and a mini vacuum which makes picking up all the sand he tracks in easy to pick up. He is the one who generally makes the mess here, so it is fitting it is now his responsibility. If he puts things away every time he comes in, he won’t have much to do beside a weekly vacuum and floor wash. We figure 10 minutes a week if he keeps on top of it.
- Vaccumming. Main floor only (2 rooms). 2 x per week. I mentioned we have two furry pets. Although I will do a top to bottom vacuum on weekends or as divided up with the big vacuum, he is responsible for picking up hair in the week. We have a small stick vacuum he is capable of using (we actually got it for him when he outgrew his toy vacuum he loved so much!). This won’t take much more than 5-7 minutes of his time, twice a week.
- Putting his laundry away. This will be whenever we do laundry. We will take it from his basket for him, wash and fold it and put it on his bed. Every night before bed (if there is laundry there) he will be expected to put it away. This will take no more than 10 minutes a week as his clothing organization and systems make it very easy to put away. I am going to try to leave laundry until the weekends come fall – but we will see how this goes.
- Room cleaned. Once a week. Toys all put away. Drawers closed (why he likes to keep them slightly open is beyond me!). Bed made (we do not expect this daily so once a week will be a good learning experience). Ensuring nothing has been conveniently pushed under the bed. Vaccuumed with his stick vacuum. Dusted. 15-20 minutes a week if he stays on top of it – much longer if he does not!
He will still have normal expectations like taking his dishes to the sink or putting his laundry in his hamper, or picking up his toys when he is done with them or asked, but we are going to start with these specific assignments and see how it goes. We do not want to overwhelm him, school and homework is always most important, but we feel he is definitely capable of taking on some ownership for our house and doing his part. Sometimes it is easier to do some of these things ourselves, but we never learn without being taught, so now is our opportunity as parents to invest in our son’s future. We all know managing a house in tip top shape is a challenge so imagine how challenging it would be if you’ve never lifted a finger until then. We do not want him to be in that position and would like him to learn all these skills before he leaves the nest. With that being many years away he’s got much time to perfect them!