Summer Work Standards

Helping us set-up those expectations is Professional Organizer, Marie Ricks.

If you are on a traditional school schedule, its time to make summer plans about what work your children (no matter their ages) will be expected to do this summer in addition to fun outings, vacations, and other activities. It is best to focus in three areas:

Neatness Standards

1) What will be the daily neatness standards for their bedrooms during the upcoming summer? Beds made? Clothes picked up? Curtains open, drawers closed, and toys picked up? Will these responsibilities need to be done before breakfast, before daily chores, and/or before they are allowed to play with friends?

Household Skills

2) What household skills will you teach them during this vacation time? Will they be in charge of making one general use room neat each morning? Will they dust, vacuum, and clean another room once a week? Will they have chores in your yard and maybe a garden portion to weed, water, and harvest? Will they learn to cook (maybe at lunchtime)?

Reading Opportunities

3) What reading opportunities will you offer? When will you be going to the library week to week? Where will the library books be kept? During what hour of the day will you arrange for quiet time so the family members can read or do other quiet projects without interruption, distraction, or other disturbances?

Click HERE to view and print a Cleaning Standard Work Sheet.

Now is the time to take just a moment to think through your upcoming summer plans:

1) Daily clean standards for bedrooms you will uphold,

2) Household chores and cooking skills you will share, and,

3) Reading opportunities you will offer.

Remember, parenthood is not a popularity contest. You are in charge to make the rules, provide the opportunities to work and learn, and protect the time for reading and quiet projects.

May the upcoming summer and every subsequent summer be different because you have taken a few minutes to formulate your plans, decided what to teach, and created a daily break for personal time.

As a side note, when your family is on a year-round school schedule, these same skills could be taught during off-school weeks. It will be more difficult to establish a routine cadence because the vacation times will be shorter, but it is very important for children to be responsible for part of the household maintenance.

Work Ethic and Self-Initiative

Non-school time also offers a perfect situation to help your children learn to enjoy their specific chores. There is usually more time for instruction, more leisure for checking to make sure the jobs are done correctly, and more capacity for patience without a lot of outside pressures. There are four important concepts to consider as we approach teaching proper work habits and attitudes.

What To Do

1) Specifically tell them what their jobs will entail so there is no misunderstanding as to the desired results. This will help them understand that standards have been set and they are to be met.

How To Do it Right

2) Teach them how to appropriately complete their jobs. This will demonstrate the methods and skills required success.Getting Better and Better

3) Time how long it takes them to complete each job for several days. This helps introduce the concept that if you do a job repetitively and are diligent, you can do it better AND you can do it faster.

Using Self-Initiative

4) Finally, teach them the concept of self-initiative, one of the most important principles a young child, a teenager, or even an adult can learn. There can be great self-satisfaction in doing your jobs without being asked. This also teaches independent behavior.

Anyone that lives in a home should participate in maintaining it. Tell your children that house and yard work are part of this upcoming summer’s activities. With the introduction of simple but repetitive jobs, include the standards desired, teach the methods required, show them that practice makes jobs go faster, and help them move towards self-initiative. With their help, they can do to make the load lighter for maintaining the home, cleaning the yard, and keeping up with the laundry.

After deciding who will do what and how much each person will be responsible for, take time to describe the job completely. Take plenty of time, at the beginning, to teach them the right way to do each job. If this teaching is not done appropriately, there will be frustration, sullenness, and disappointment all through the long summer months. Work with the children and a timer as they do each job to show them how long it takes to do the job. Then repeat the timed sequence as they do the job again and again to show they can get better each and every time they do their chores with focus and diligence.

Over and over speak of self-initiative. Reward them generously for any self-initiative that is shown in an appropriate way. For instance, have special colored drinking glasses at dinner for those members of your family who do their chores during the day without being asked. In other words, when they show self-initiative, let everyone know about it. It becomes a symbol of their achievements and willingness to cooperate.

Click HERE to view a Bedroom Cleaning Standard Work Sheet.

May the forthcoming summertime be more fulfilling as you and your whole family work together towards a more orderly life!

©2009 Marie Calder Ricks/

Marie Ricks is a professional organizer and popular speaker and author.
You can learn more about her at

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