Welcome to summer! We finished up all the remaining textbooks in the house on Friday, so Memorial Day Weekend was really and truly the start of Summer Vacation for us. We were all very ready (teacher AND students AND uneducated little'uns) for a change in routine, so a weekend full of fun family events and very few chores was simply delightful.
Like all weekends, however, it came to an end and with the dawning of Tuesday the new summertime routine was instituted. I decided that some of the children's new-found free time needed to be filled with upgrades in their household responsibilities, thereby allowing me to fill my new-found free time with unending reminders and "motivational" speeches. Each of the three older kids received one or two new chores and one expansion of an old chore (for instance, washing all the breakfast dishes instead of just 5). Ian and Brynn started out highly motivated but quickly realized that no matter how new they are, chores are still chores. Blair faced the new responsibilities with joy and great gusto, which I really hope lasts. One highly motivated cleaning kid might be contagious.......
The new chart is color coded for easy reference. At around the age of two, each of my kids as picked a favorite color, without any encouragement from me. Ian picked green, Brynn picked pink, and Blair picked purple. No child would dream of using another child's designated color item without first receiving special dispensation from the owner of that favorite color. These simple decisions have done a great deal to simplify my life because I can color code almost everything: plates and cups, school supplies, notebooks, bath towels, popsicles, toothbrushes and now reference charts, and there is no opportunity for arguing or confusion over what belongs to who. I can happily report that Cam seems to be maintaining the pattern, showing a strong preference for blue!
In addition to a new chore chart, I added a Job Jar to the daily routine. The job jar is a way to assign those jobs that the kids are responsible for that don't come up on a daily basis - like shaking out the throw rugs or organizing a toy box. I painted the tops of a bunch of clothespins in the code colors of green, pink, and purple, and then wrote various assignments on them.
Each morning, before the kids get started on their work detail, I will decide if any of the jobs in the jar need doing, and if they do, I will clip that clothespin to the edge of the yellow bowl. The kids will have to check to see if there is an assignment for them - some days there may be none, some days there may be one or even two. Unlike the chart jobs, which need to be done by 9am-ish (or whenever we leave the house, whichever comes first), the jobs from the jar can be completed at any time before bed. Once the job has been completed and inspected, the clothespin gets tossed back into the bowl.
Timely completion of each day's work results in marbles being added to their jars (when they collect enough marbles, they get to trade them in for a small prize) while failure to do so causes marbles to be removed from their jars. Hopefully this system continues to be the good motivational tool that it has been so far.
Will the new system work? I have NO idea, but I really, really, really hope it does, because I really, really, really don't want our summer mornings to descend into chaos and bedlam. That would be very un-vacationy for me.
Happy Summer Vacation (or almost summer vacation) everyone!