Set the tone for your kids’ summer vacation before it starts: Make a Summer Vacation Chore Plan!
Your house should never be cleaner than when the kids aren’t in school. It may seem like a “nice mom” move to let them slouch around the house once the stress of the school year is over, but you’re not doing anyone a favor by setting aside the chore chart and doing everything yourself.
Which summer vacation schedule would you like your kids to follow?
|8:00am||House clean, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed|
|8:01am||Ready for fun!|
|9:00am||Wake up to greet a screen|
|10:00am||Listlessly mope over a bowl of cereal while staring blankly at a screen|
I made the mistake of choosing Schedule #2 once. Never again.
My summer vacation chore plan is perfectly compatible with your current chore system — it doesn’t matter if your chore schedule is tied to an allowance, has charts and stickers, or is scribbled on the back of an envelope.
There’s one decision you can make now that will guarantee a fun summer vacation:
My house will be clean by 8am every morning.
Are you laughing? Read on:
- A house must be kept. Why drag it out all day?
- The #1 need all humans have is to belong. Requiring kids to help out the family by doing important household chores is one of the best ways to guarantee that your kids feel that sense of belonging in their bones. (Read Hold On To Your Kids or Positive Discipline to learn more about that!)
- With the grunt work out of the way early in the day, there is so much more time for fun!
OK, what do you mean by “clean”?
I call it “Hotel Clean”, because one of my favorite things to do on vacation is to walk into my hotel room and see uncluttered space, a clear floor, a made bed, and a clean bathroom.
Everyone has her own threshold for an acceptable level of “clean”. I have to do way more than what’s on the “Hotel Clean” list to feel like my home is really clean, but covering these basics every morning means I never come home to a pigsty.
As long as your house is “Hotel Clean” by 8:00 am every morning, you can keep on keeping on with whatever system works for you.
The Summer Vacation Chore Plan
My “Hotel Clean” chore schedule is as simple as it gets, but it starts with a few basic rules:
- Everyone (Mom too!): Pick up your own stuff and put it away. When I’m enforcing this I notice that there is magically less crap strewn about. When I fail to enforce this, the crap exponentially explodes. The moral of this story: Be consistent.
- The trash goes out as needed by whomever notices that it’s full. Taking out the trash is no more a chore than is flushing the toilet. Train your kids to notice when it’s full. A good tip to give them: If you have to balance trash on top so that it doesn’t topple over, take it out!
- Cleaning your room is not a chore (making your bed is also not a chore). It’s a basic responsibility. If your kids can’t keep their own rooms clean, they have too much crap. If they can’t make their own beds, buy simpler bedding.
- Doing the dinner dishes is not a chore. It’s another basic responsibility. Right after dinner my kids do the dishes. Every day. I sit down and listen to their crazy conversation.
6 Basic Chores To Do Every Morning of Summer Vacation
I have a short list of chores that must be done every morning by 8am. I don’t care by whom.
- Clean the guest bathroom
- Clean the master bathroom
- Empty the dishwasher
- Fold the laundry that’s in the dryer
- Vacuum or dust the living room
- Make breakfast (for everyone)
It’s first come, first served on these chores. I have two kids, so each kid chooses two of these morning chores. I take the leftovers.
12 Basic Weekly Chores
I have a second list of chores that my kids need to do weekly. Again, the more often they are required to clean these areas, the less likely they are to dirty these areas! (I do some of these, like sweeping and mopping the kitchen, daily as well; this list helps the kids practice cleaning basics that aren’t on the daily chore schedule.)
- Vacuum the baseboards
- Sanitize all light switches and door handles
- Clean the outside of the dishwasher and oven
- Sweep and mop the kitchen
- Sweep and mop the guest bathroom
- Sweep and mop the master bathroom
- Clean the kitchen door
- Clean the garage door
- Sweep the front porch and walkway
- Sweep the patio and wash down the patio table.
- Clean out and wipe down the car
- Vacuum the car
That’s 12 jobs, one detail job per day per kid for 6 days. One day a week they wash the cars, either together or separately. I pay $4 per car, but washing the cars is not optional.
My kids can complete everything on the list — basic responsibilities and chores — in less than 30 minutes.
If a kid drags his feet, he ends up doing more chores, because the others are depending on his part to be done so they can do their part. For example, if my son chooses “empty the dishwasher” but doesn’t do it right away, he also gets to do the breakfast dishes, because I expect to be able to load the breakfast dishes into an empty dishwasher immediately after breakfast. I have other things to do, and I don’t want to backtrack to the kitchen once he decides to empty the dishwasher.
Do I punish my kids for not doing chores?
I don’t need to, because I have a simple rule:
Nothing else happens until the house is clean.
Keeping the house clean should not feel like a punishment in itself; it should be the way life is.
If all your kids know is a cluttered or dirty house, see their point of view that cleaning is not important. Make cleaning a priority. Make cleaning habitual. It will quickly become their new normal.
Get more done and have more fun! What time do your kids get up during summer vacation — and how long does it take you to get your house “Hotel Clean”?
The Summer Vacation Chore Plan: Get more done and have more fun! [You are here!]