Our latest and most successful system for summer chores involves the point system. I took a few minutes and thought about what was most important (to me) to have the kids accomplish on a daily basis. Of course, chores was on the top of my list, but I also wanted the kids to read, do something healthy, help cook, etc. View PDF: Summer Chore Check List
In order to earn privileges, the kids have to earn a certain number of points for that day. This is my way of holding electronics hostage. On a larger scale, I have rewards set up for earning more check marks than they “need”. To keep electronic time down, I interrupt their day with outings and/or family activities. I also insist that they unplug periodically to clean their area, or to do a quick chore for me. (“Mom, do I get a point for ‘An Act of Kindness’ for making your coffee?”)
The kids wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to start earning points.
Summer chores get done mostly without my intervention.
The kids ask what they can do to earn certain kinds of points (“Mom, what homework can I do to earn points?”)
Points for privileges are earned almost before I finish my coffee.
The Cons are pretty much everything listed in the “Pros” section: The kids are up at the butt-crack of dawn, asking what they can do to earn points, and then they are playing X-box as early as 9 or 10 am.
At first I tried holding onto the clipboard that has their charts attached. I found that I wasn’t able to do anything else with the kids buzzing around (reading the list and telling me what they completed). Now they mark their own lists, and I double check their work when they “cash in their points” for privileges.
Points can be taken away for my largest pet-peeves: being disrespectful, eating outside of the kitchen, making me repeat myself more than three times, etc. Occasionally, I’ll ask for something to be done in a timely manner. When my timeline isn’t as important to my child (usually the 12+ kids) as it is to me, I watch the clock. As an example:
If there is a 3 hour delay in taking the trash to the curb, then there is a 3-hour delay in getting the Wi-Fi turned on after it is earned.
Anything you can do to help your kids find their own motivation to work is a good thing. Yes, the kids are basically working for play time (aren’t we all?). This system is a visual of the fun things that can happen after they take care of business.
Number 6 (7 years old at the time): Mom, do you have an extra chore for me?
Me: Have you done your regular chores? Why do you need an extra chore if you haven’t done your regular chores, yet?
Number 6: No, I can’t do trash cans because that’s two checkmarks and I only need one checkmark to play my tablet.
Me: I have the perfect plan for you… Take out the trash cans, and I’ll only give you ONE checkmark.
Number 6: OK!! *runs off happily and gets to work*
Overall, this system works well because the kids can read and have been “trained” in their chores already. It helps that we’ve had this system for a few years already. When the kids were younger, there were pictures that explained the list. Now, the older kids tell the youngest non-reader what to do.
Do you want the list of actual chores (dishes, sweeping, etc.) each child is responsible for? Ask me for the file, or let me know how you organize your day during summer vacation in the Comments Section.