Tricounty News

Kids and summer

For many Minnesota families, summer means gearing up for a very busy season. While some folks take the opportunity to head for the lake on weekends, others use any available good weather to do fieldwork or outdoor projects around the house or farm. Whatever the reason for your shorter or busier weeks, summer seems a great time to get children involved with chores in and out of the house.

Young children with lots of supervision and safe tools can help weed and water the garden. Digging in the dirt and playing with water are two of a 3-year-old's specialties. When children cooperate to complete a project like this, they learn firsthand just how important it is for growing plants to be kept watered and weed free. On the other hand, being told to stay out and turning your back may be just the invitation an independent toddler is looking for to stomp on your silly vegetables.

Hanging clothes on the line requires a lot of bending and reaching. Include a preschooler to pick the items out of the basket to hand up to the adult and you've just cut the work in half. Children love clothespins. Let them color a few to play with on a rainy day. They work great to hold blankets together for under table "forts."

SchoolÐage children love the challenge of washing the family pet, the house, the fence or a vehicle. Be sure this is an old vehicle since hoses can dent and scratch. Feeding small animals such as chickens and rabbits will also give the child an idea about the importance of regular chores. Like any other new job, work with the child until they can prove that they know what to do and feel comfortable doing it. When adults show interest and appreciate effort, children may strive to do a little better each time.

Teens may feel that summer is theirs to sleep through. Talk about summer needs and expectations now and continue to do so throughout the entire summer. Planning ahead can avert a power struggle each day of summer vacation. You may agree to let the teen catch up on sleep one day a week and then begin a working routine after that. Keep your expectations realistic.

Allow some time to be together as a family with fun being the only agenda item. Some time for each person to enjoy time alone or with friends will help everyone appreciate each other more when you regroup. One veteran mom's summer chore tip for keeping inside tasks to a minimum: Clean the house on the first Monday morning of summer and don't let anyone go back inside until absolutely necessary. Just enjoy the time outdoors.

Source: NDSU Extension Service