Saturday, July 9, 2011

Schools Out And You're At Work

Guest writer: MJ Smout

Ahh, summertime is here again!  This can be an enjoyable, relaxing time of year unless you are a single parent and your children are too old for daycare.  Then it’s:  ‘Now that school is out what will the kids do for the next two months?’  Well, with no money for day camps and no family nearby who could take kids all day, we had to make our own plans.

Children need structured time and they need time to just be kids.  Well, the just being kids part takes care of itself, so I had to work on the structured part.  Our schools sent summer math packets and reading lists home each summer to help kids retain their learned skills; but if these are not available from your school, local stores usually have ‘grade appropriate’ workbooks you can buy and Libraries have reading lists.  My children knew I expected them to complete some of this ‘homework’ each day.  I also bought kits for my kids to work on when they got bored.  Things like small needle point or latch hook kits, mosaic or color-by-number kits; anything that would help show they had accomplished something.

My children were also expected to do chores each day.  Each child was expected to help clean their bedroom and do their own laundry.  They were also assigned another chore; and all chores were to be done before any playing or other activities.  Since I wasn’t there to see that the chores were done right, I left lists telling my children exactly what was expected of them.  Just telling a child to clean their bedroom may not be enough to let them know what is expected; so my lists also told them how their chores were to be accomplished.  Here are some examples:



  1. Pick up dirty clothes and put into hamper 
  2. Pick up clean clothes and put away
  3. Make bed
  4. Put away toys and other articles
  5. Sweep/vacuum floor
  6. Put garbage into a bag and throw it away
  7. Make sure lights and radios not in use are turned off

Wash laundry (this can be coordinated with others)



  1. Pick up articles that do not belong and put them into a box
  2. When towels and washcloths are dirty, put them into the laundry and put out clean ones
  3. Clean tub (get out ring), shine chrome, wipe out windowsill.
  4. Clean toilet inside and out. Get under rim and down to the floor
  5. Clean sink, wipe off counter, and shine chrome
  6. Shine mirror
  7. Empty garbage and put a clean bag in waste basket
  8. Sweep floors
  9. Spray bathroom with room freshener
  10. Make sure all water and lights are turned off
  1. Wipe off the floor with a damp mop
  2. Wipe fingerprints from around door frame and light fixtures
  3. Wash laundry (This can be done together)


  1. Pick up articles that do not belong and put in box
  2. Load dirty dishes into the dishwasher. When it is full, run it.
  3. Wash, by hand, those dishes that will not fit into the dishwasher
  4. Wipe off table, chairs, counter, stove and anything else that needs it
  5. Clean sink and shine chrome
  6. When dish towels and dish cloths get dirty, put them into the laundry
  7. Empty garbage and put a clean bag in garbage can
  8. Sweep floor and wipe up spills
  9. Make sure water, lights and appliances that are not in use are turned off
  10. Help with laundry
  1. Clean floor with a damp mop
  2. Wipe off fingerprints around door frames and light fixtures


  1. Pick up dirty dishes and take to kitchen
  2. Pick up articles that don't belong and put into a box
  3. Pick up papers and put into garbage
  4. Sweep upstairs hallway, stairs and front room around rug
  5. Vacuum rug 
  6. Dust furniture, window sill, television and stereo equipment, lamps and knick-knacks 
  7. Generally straighten room
  8. Empty garbage can and put a clean bag in waste basket
  9. Pick up lawn and water it, as needed
  1. Clean the closet
  2. Damp mop floor around rug
  3. Water plants, inside and out 
My children were allowed to play with their friends, but only if they followed the rules.  Since I couldn’t be at home to enforce the rules I also left lists telling my children how they were expected to behave and which child was in charge while I was gone.


  1. Help fix breakfast and lunch (don't just fix for yourself). Breakfast should be at 8:00 a.m. at least
  2. Do all of your chores before going outside. (no going out before 9:00 a.m.)
  3. Let Teresa know where you will be at all times
  4. Bring friends in only when given permisison
  5. Mind Teresa, she is in charge. If there is a problem with minding for any reason, those involved will be sent to their rooms and I will deal with the problem when I get home from work. This could be grounds for loosing all privileges: 
First offense: 1/2 hour
Second offense: 1 hour
Third offense: The remaining of the day

The oldest child at home was usually in charge and there was also a list telling what was expected of them.


  1. Fix breakfast and lunch on time (encourage the children to help with fixing and clean up.)
  2. Know where the children are at all times. Be cautious when allowing them to go with others
  3. Only allow friends in with supervision
  4. Remind to do work before play
  5. Help with laundry or other work as needed
Don’t get me wrong, all these lists didn’t make my children behave perfectly, but I didn’t get nearly as many phone calls as some of my co-workers.  My children only called for emergencies.  They were all still alive and well when I got home and someone knew where to find them.  If they had fights (and there were a few I didn’t hear about until years later) the problems were handled when I got home.

1 comment:

  1. I totally remember all these chore lists. I have thought about making them for my kids but Tyler isn't old enough to read them yet. I also remember all the summer projects that we bought. I still have some of them. Another awesome thing I think I will pass on to the next generation.