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School’s out: What Chores Do You Give Your Children over the Summer?

School is out, and children are on summer vacation.  Over the summer, many children experience boredom: not enough to do and too much time in which to do it.  Parents, on the other hand, often experience the reverse:  too much to do and too little time in which to do it.  Is there a way that both dilemmas can be resolved?  Absolutely! 

By delegating age-appropriate chores to your children over the summer, your children can learn responsibility, work ethics, the benefits to self-confidence when a job is well done, and how they as individuals fit into and contribute to the family unit.  Oh, and they can also earn an allowance so they have money to spend on fun summer activities (like paying to get into the local water park).

What chores are frequently delegated?  Below is a list of common summer chores delegated to the children in a household.  You will need to match your children’s ages to the chores below.

  • Light meal preparation for themselves and their younger siblings
  • Keeping the house clean (including doing dishes after meals)
  • Doing the laundry
  • Taking out the garbage
  • Cleaning house windows (any windows that can be reached without a ladder)
  • Light household maintenance tasks (i.e., keeping clocks wound, fresh ice in the freezer, etc.)
  • Retrieving each day’s mail, sorting it by recipient, and placing each person’s mail in their designated spot (i.e., at their place setting at the dining room table)
  • Feeding and exercising the family pet(s)
  • Filling the bird and squirrel feeders
  • Mowing, watering, and weeding the law
  • Planting, weeding, & harvesting a vegetable or herb garden
  • Watering the flowers
  • Keeping outdoor furniture, patios, and decks clean
  • Making their beds, taking out the garbage and keeping their room clean

You may want to ask your children which chores they would like to do: children are more likely to embrace chores if they feel that they have had a voice in receiving those chores.  Once the chores are delegated, many families have weekly or monthly chore charts as a reminder of which chores are to be done when and by which child. 

In exchange for performing chores, most children will expect to receive an allowance (typically expressed in dollars per week).  You can give your children a non-negotiable allowance, or you can negotiate with your children about the amount of allowance that they should receive based on the chores that they will be performing.  Whatever allowance you commit to, make sure that you honor your agreement with your children and pay the designated sums at the times due.

Finally, offer your children feedback about the quantity and quality of the work they have performed on their chores.  Praise often; redirect as necessary.  You are giving your children a foreshadowing of life in the real work world.  Take that responsibility seriously. 

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