The kids finished school yesterday and our summer "vacation" has begun. It will look quite a bit different for us since we'll be staying in BC instead of spending it with my parents in Manitoba. As much as I love our new acreage, I think I'm going to miss the prairie summer. Part of the reason it was so nice was because I had the extra help from my mom every day. Erik worked l-o-o-ng days and it was great to have someone to share the burden of childcare with me on a day-to-day basis.
So looking ahead to this coming summer I knew I needed to have a game plan. It's not just about planning some activities to keep us busy, but it's about having my parenting game-face on. First I decided that we need to set expectations and have a routine - including a 2-hour/day limit on screen time, eating our meals together at the table, and some definite cleaning up after ourselves. Not only that, but I know that I need to increase my consistency and firmness with discipline. It's easy to let things slide when the kids are only home a few hours a day. But with 2 months sprawling ahead of us of being together all day, every day, I think it's time to really hunker down. And even as I'm typing this, I fully realize that the gung-ho feeling I have right now might just taper off to exhausted-mommy-survival-mode by mid-July, but hey, I always say, when the motivation strikes you just gotta run with it.
One of my biggest hang-ups with discipline is figuring out what the best consequences should be. Taking away screen time might be devastating for Micah but wouldn't cause Keziah to bat an eye. But take away her favourite blanket, stuffy, or - heaven forbid - her kitten, and you've really hit the nail on the head. And Silas (who admittedly gets babied far too much) usually ends up with a firm warning :p
But one idea I came across was a Job Jar. This consequence will be best used when the kids are bored, whiny and fighty; when my mom radar says these kids need something to do!
I included the kids in brainstorming appropriate jobs to put in the jar. Then I printed them out on cardstock (I wanted them to be sturdy since I'm planning to use them a lot!) and cut them into strips. I repeated some of them more than once so there would be a higher probability of picking them out of the jar. My favourite was "pick up and put away 10 things" since that is something that always needs to be done around here...
Some other ideas were dusting the TV cabinet, helping Mom in the kitchen (I figured this could cover all sorts of odd jobs that I could come up with on the spot), and putting away everyone's laundry (another job that seems to need doing on a daily basis!).
And somewhere I got the idea to include a "free pass" coupon in the jar. This can be an opportunity to teach kids about grace and how we don't get what our sins deserve.
I wanted to "black-out" the jar so they couldn't see what they were picking, so I rolled up some pretty scrap-book paper inside the jar. It might as well look nice if it's going to be hanging around our house for awhile.
Today the kids were pretty eager to pull our their first jobs. It seemed like more of a game than a consequence. In fact, Keziah got the free pass on her first pick, then decided to trade it in for a real job. And then after that was done she asked for one more :)
I'm pretty sure the novelty will wear off, but even if it doesn't, it should hopefully be a great boredom buster for the summer!