Who doesn’t love summer? It’s fun. It’s warm. It’s carefree… well, sort of.
Chances are even if you have time off from work during the summer, you still have responsibilities as a parent. Parenting doesn’t take a summer break!
While summer can be a lot of fun, most parents would agree that if you throw your family completely off a routine for too long, it’s chaos!
Hosting an au pair is definitely a way to keep routines and sanity in check over the summer. Between the consistency of one caregiver, the flexibility in schedule, and the special bonds typically formed between host family and au pair, an au pair can be a summer life saver!
Yet even with an au pair in the home, it never hurts to get some tips about creating summer routines to keep your kids motivated to do their summer packet or reading minutes required by school, help out with some chores around the house, and overall create a smoother, happier summer for all.
First off, you may need some supplies. Depending on the ages of your children, some of these items may or may not work. For example, if you’ve got early readers, sight word index cards are a great way to keep these words top of mind and easy to tap into over the summer months. If you’ve got preschoolers, some big coloring/sticker pads are great ways to keep them busy with ‘homework’ while you work with older kids on things like sight words or reading. You’ll also want to get some sort of ‘currency’ to keep track of everyone’s efforts. These could be stickers, counting chips, or any other object easy enough for kids to count autonomously.
Pro-tip when it comes to supplies! Mini whiteboards are way more fun than regular old pen and paper for kids practicing letter formation, spelling, or writing simple sentences.
The most important thing about routines and incentives, however, is the buy-in. Children who aren’t interested in the routine process won’t actually commit to it. How do you create interest? Believe it or not, it’s not by offering expensive or fancy rewards or creating a beautiful, colorful, craft chart. Of course, you could do either one, but the best (and simplest) way is to ask them to help you create it.
Focus on giving your kids lots of autonomy in this process while directing/making final decisions on what seems like a fair “price” for the job/reward. Older kids can write the list of tasks and rewards, while younger ones can write the values or just offer their opinion in the conversation. Yes, even the children’s involvement in writing down the reward chart items can be a crucial step to ensure there is buy-in from everyone!
The best part of having a summer incentive routine may definitely be the lack of a daily battle to get help around the house or stay on top of those reading and academic skills. While it may be summer vacation from school and kids are spending more time relaxing at home, it never hurts to create more of a flow, especially when responsibilities are not on vacation!