Preparing for Summer

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I recieved a nice e-mail from Becky with All About Learning as a follow-up to this blog post that included this information:

“I wanted to let you know that we do have a free letter tile replacement program–if you are missing 6 tiles or fewer, we will pop them in the mail for you at no charge. :-)”


Isn’t that great to know?

Seasonal Change-over

We had a big day yesterday. It was the big change–transforming the house and wardrobes from fall/winter to spring/summer. We usually get this done in late April or early May, but with the wedding we didn’t get to it.

Because our home is not large, it makes for quite a chaotic day when we bring in all the summer clothes and pack up all the winter clothes and give away all the clothes that don’t fit anymore. It probably doesn’t help that I got a little over-ambitious and decided to sort through books and reorganize the shed, while we were at it. We also had to go through the hat and glove bench (which had a whole lot more than hats and gloves in it) and transform the boot tub into a pool supply tub. (We have a four-foot inflatable pool that we enjoy every summer.)

Here are few quick thoughts on completing big projects:

This is a family event. Everyone participates. Throughout the process, everyone had a job to do. Delegating requires more thought on mom’s part, but once children are trained it is amazing the productivity of teamwork. I could never accomplish all I do without the help of all the children.

Assign older children to apprentice younger children. Some moms-of-many have the older children care for and play with the younger children while mom accomplishes the work. We prefer to all work together.

Include rewards if the work is hard. Yes, I’m not above bribery–for me or the children. At the beginning of the day I promised that if we accomplished all we set out to do we would buy pizza (a big treat for us) and rent a movie. About an hour into the work, I rewarded all the diligent workers with a small handful of candy. I did this a few more times throughout the day. Although we had plenty of discipline situations to deal with, the “catch ‘em being good” method encourages a positive attitude toward work. And, yes, we enjoyed our pizza and movie last night.

Give children specific instructions rather than general goals. When I was a child, “go clean your room” overwhelmed me. Especially with boys who struggle with organization, I have found that more specific instructions help. I tell the boys “make your bed, put the dirty clothes in the hamper, put the toys away, and clean up the trash.” This results in a clean room, but they don’t get as overwhelmed when they focus on one task at time. By the way, some children struggle with remembering more than one or two instructions at a time, so I often give one of these directions and then say “and then report back to me.”

Know when to retreat. There comes a point in every big project when you lose sight of what you’re doing. When that point comes, take a break, eat a snack, and go sit outside for fifteen minutes. Usually after my brain has had time to rest I am ready to tackle the next thing.

Specifically concerning kids clothes: Use a chart to evaluate each child’s wardobe. Down the left column. I list all the types of clothes my children need (short sleeve t-shirts, short sleeve collared shirts, shorts, jeans, etc.) and an estimated minimum number that they need. Across the top row are all of the children’s initials and their estimated sizes. I use tally marks to keep track of the acceptable clothing as we sort. At the end of the day I can easily see what I need to purchase.

This morning, as I think about all we accomplished I am very impressed. Not only did we get a lot done but we are also ready for all the summer fun that I am (working on) planning. After all, wihtout the infrasturcture of organized spaces and clean laundry, summer activities won’t be nearly as much fun.

What are you doing to get ready for summer? Share your ideas below.




One Response to Preparing for Summer
  1. Susanna says:

    Well, I have planned at least one fun family activity for every day of summer (M-F that is) so we can make some memories and spend time together. Thank you for the idea of clothes organization. We always accept hand me downs so we generally have most needs covered but there are always a couple things for different children that are still needed and the list is a great way to keep track of that. Great idea!

    One thing I made sure to plan into the fun was one water day each week! I am going to try a human carwash station and a water bubble. And, of course water balloons and water guns are on the plans. One tip, incase others aren’t already aware of this: they sell water balloons with a filler jug and tie tool – buy it! The jug works great but the real beauty is the tool that ties the balloons. I used to have aching fingers by the time I had ties 20 water balloons because they are so tiny and tight (I even have small hands and fingers, still… ouch) but this tool is awesome! I am so thankful that I went ahead and bought the kit for right at $10. Now that we have it, we can just buy water balloons as needed.