It’s almost the end of summer.
You’ve got lots to do. Your kids have nothing to do.
Camps and summer leagues have stopped. Schools haven’t started.
Your kids are in limbo. Arrghh!
The thought of them sitting around watching TV or fooling around on the computer all day is driving you a bit nuts, even if school is right around the corner. You can think of a list of productive things they could be doing, but you’re too busy with your own work, errands, or chores to be constantly prodding them along.
So, how are you getting something done without letting your kids turn into complete couch potatoes behind your back?
Here’s what I’ve been doing:
Make a checklist together each morning. I’m sitting down with my 9 year old son each morning and making a checklist of meaningful things to accomplish during the day. It includes:
- a little math (30 minutes in a workbook and 15 minutes of math flashcards on FactMonster.com),
- some music (30 minutes of piano practice),
- some physical activity (lacrosse in the backyard with the big bro),
- occasionally a paid job, like washing the car.
Here’s our list from today (of course, we keep it in FamZoo, but paper works too!):
We both like this because the rules and expectations are very explicit and clear from the beginning. It really cuts down on the whining and the nagging.
Check off and notify on completion of each task. My 9 year old son gets to set his own schedule (for the most part), but he is responsible for checking off the tasks and notifying me via text whenever he completes a task. I only go into the dreaded nag mode if I haven’t seen a text in a while. He seems to appreciate the autonomy. I’m able to stay more focused.
As for notifications, my 9 year old can’t text directly (no cell phone yet), but since we’re using online checklists in FamZoo, I can just set up an automatic alert to text me whenever he checks an item off his list. Here’s the Alert setting for his Checklist (my wife gets a notification as well, so she can feel connected while away at work during the day):
And, here’s what my text notifications looked like yesterday:
Yes, he’s still playing computer games, watching a little SpongeBob, and assembling Legos throughout the day, but at least I know he’s getting a nice balance of other activities in as well. I’m getting more done too. Win-win.
Do you have any tips for keeping kids on task during the end-of-summer doldrums? Share your techniques in the comments.