Oh What Fun We Have – Easy and Free to Low Cost Summer Break Ideas

Summer break has been here for about a month or so now, the kids and I are no where near ready to kill each other. I have been enjoying the Summer break quite a bit, sure the lack in routine can occasionally be a bit of a challenge for my son Aj, but overall things are going awesome! As a Mom who has been a penny pincher for as long as she can remember, I wanted to share some tips on how our family has a blast without spending any money, or maybe just a little tiny bit of money some days … I know you can do this too!

Having Summer Break fun Without Breaking the Bank

I am a huge advocate for being happy within, I truly believe if you are not happy within your own self that no one around you will be happy either. That is where Summer Break comes into play, I see every day how happy I truly am because of how happy my children are in response to my deep inner happiness. We love spending quality time together, and they trust me to work a couple hours every day from home because once my work is done, the day is OURS.

Happily Blended Summer Break Fun

Some Things that the Kids and I enjoy Doing During Summer Break Are:

  • Sitting on the deck chatting about whatever or telling funny stories to each other.
  • Taking a trip to Walmart or some other local store and having a look around, it’s always fun to check out new toys.
  • Take a scenic ride somewhere; one day we hopped in the vehicle and drove 2 hours to the ocean.
  • Make blanket forts, play with musical instruments, dress up, pick berries, or play with the ever huge collection of toys in house.

Summer Break Fun

The best part of our summer break days is that we just laugh and laugh and laugh. We are a lively bunch together, and more often than not, you can hear music playing in our home while we do chores together as a means to ensure we are doing our part to keep our household running smoothly. We laugh together, we do chores together, we are family.

What are you doing this Summer break with your family that simply makes you SMILE?

My Theory Regarding Chores for Kids

When my kids were super young we had a chore chart up on the fridge, I created it and it worked awesome. At some point it was magnetic and at other points it was simply a tally mark system. Each child had set chores, for the boys brushing teeth was even one of those chores to encourage good teeth brushing habits. The tally mark would represent a penny or nickle, whatever it was back then. Each child could lose a tally mark though, if they misbehaved or didn’t follow rules at some point. It was a wonderful system that worked well when the kids were not in school. Now that my three children are in school and with the sharing of parenting between two households, it’s not so easy to utilize the same methods. Here is why my kids really only have tasks during the Summer break season.

I believe that the school year is a time to focus all your efforts on school work, each of my children get A and B grades, this past year my oldest actually got straight A’s all year. They are good students. They also have to live between my home and their Dad’s home, each having different visitation schedules. To me, having to keep up with chores while going between households and keeping up good grades isn’t worth adding a daily chore list to. While I still will ask my children to help around the house, as I believe a strong family bond is created when we all work together to ensure our household is up kept, they don’t have a real chore list during the school season. This has worked for us very well.

Chores for Kids Living in Co Parenting World

My kids are never over scheduled nor over worked during the school year because I allow them the time to focus on school versus a huge list of chores. I believe this is a worthy thing, their school is their job. Being part of the family is their job too, when you have a huge list of school work plus chores plus fun time, it creates this hectic environment and can put kids backwards; they will fall behind in some part of that huge list of to-do’s. I wish to encourage my kids to excel and find a balance, reality is a chore list during the school year will not help them balance because it’s near impossible for them to get all of that done while getting school work done. It doesn’t work.

When summer break hits, the kids are asked to do more around the home. My oldest is asked to handle the dog in the morning while I do my morning shift on Moms.com. The younger two are expected to pick up after their own self; such as dishes in sink after eating, trash thrown away and toys picked up if moving onto another toy. I am not consistent with this at all times, because I am still working on this balance of having all three gone all school year in school, but overall if I ask they do whatever it is that is asked upon them. Summer break to me, is a time to spend with family outings, bonding time and also keeping up with household chores and yard work. We all do our part to keep the family running smoothly and efficiently.

With my oldest, she has an iPhone and part of her Summer list this year is to do tasks for me so that my blog stuff doesn’t fall too much behind between my juggling my job at Moms.com and my freelance work. I don’t get any flack, after all my daughter is already a tween blogger with her own two blogs so helping me pays for her $40 a month cell bill while she also learns the “trade of blogging”. It’s a win/win for us both and she feels accomplished knowing she is working for me at some level. I am working on creating her Summer task list now, it will be no more than half hour a day when she is here to complete and I think that’s fair.

I believe that chores, in a blended household, where the children tend to go off to their Dad’s frequently must be balanced well. I want the children to enjoy being here with Mom and enjoy being away with Dad while also maintaining a good family bond and good character. At the age my children are at, the chores during school year are more a means to just upkeep around here, but during the Summer months, they are certainly expected to help more. I think with blended households and co-parenting most families do it all different while other families still try to maintain this normal level of a regular family where the children have a boat load of chores at both households, I don’t see that as fair. I want my children to grow up enjoying their childhood while still teaching them life lessons; they know when Summer time comes they will be expected to help more around the home, but their reward is a lot of fun family time.

Having a balance is important in every area of my life and my kids have become the same way; I believe that is why we are well rounded, well adjusted and adaptable, outgoing people.

10 Timesaving Kitchen Cleaning Tips

Avoid creating a messy kitchen with these timesaving kitchen tips.

Avoid creating a messy kitchen with these timesaving kitchen tips. Image

Keeping your kitchen clean is essential for maintaining a productive, healthy, and comfortable home. From scrubbing the counter to sorting the dishes, simple tasks are often all it takes to keep your kitchen fresh and tidy in any situation.

To help you clean your kitchen quickly and easily, Tile Depot has put together ten simple kitchen cleaning tips:

                             1. Keep a ‘clean anything’ towel

Nothing is worse than having to clean up a nasty mess with a clean towel. Keep a ‘clean anything’ towel in your kitchen that can be used for cleaning up messes and wash it every other day.

                           2. Wash dishes as soon as they’re used

When dishes pile up, it can be very easy to put off cleaning them for another day. If you use a dish, clean it – or, if you have a dishwasher, store it on the rack – as soon as you’ve finished using it to avoid letting dishes pile up and cause a mess.

                          3. Seal and sort cooking ingredients

Cooking ingredients that aren’t completely sealed can attract ants, cockroaches, and other nasty insects. Seal your cooking ingredients in zip-lock bags and keep them in your cupboards to prevent insects from taking over your kitchen.

                        4. Keep your fridge clean and tidy

A dirty fridge quickly leads to a dirty kitchen. Spray down your fridge with diluted cleaning spray every weekend and remove any food that’s expired. Old vegetables and leftovers can quickly turn a clean fridge into a stinky mess.

                        5. Keep a spray bottle on hand

Keep a spray bottle filled with diluted kitchen cleaner available at all times to help you clean up spillages and everyday mess. Diluted cleaning liquid won’t cause any damage to your countertop, but will still remove sticky substances with ease.

                      6.Wash your oven and microwave frequently

Messy cooking can quickly turn a white microwave into a warzone. Clean both your oven and your microwave on a frequent basis using cleaning solutions, or just water mixed with lemon juice.

                       7. Create a dish-washing roster

Does your family use enough dishes to need a fresh wash every single day? Create a roster and get your children involved in the kitchen cleaning process. Simple kitchen jobs are the perfect tasks for kids to complete in exchange for pocket money.

                    8. Young children? Keep chemicals out of reach

 Make sure your kitchen chemicals are stored in a secure cupboard, or in a drawer that’s high enough to be inaccessible to children. When you clean your kitchen in a hurry, it’s easy to misplace chemicals that could be hazardous to kids.

                    9. Cover pans whenever you’re cooking

The best way to keep your kitchen clean is to avoid creating any mess in the first place. Try covering pots and pans when you’re cooking to prevent sauces or meat juice from splashing all over your stovetop.

                    10. Invest in a reliable backsplash

A good backsplash will prevent bubbling pots and pans from causing stains to form on your kitchen wall. Choose high quality tiles for your backsplash to create a useful kitchen accessory that’s also remarkably stylish.

Blending Families – The Talk About How we Will Parent Together

On July 1st my boyfriend and I combined families into a new home, while his kids live with their mother for residential purposes they are with us three weekends a month so we still needed to be sure to address how we would parent five children together; his and mine. Communication is one of the most important factors when you are working to blend two families together and is an important part of a healthy relationship. Both my boyfriend and I were acutely aware that we needed to find a middle ground to parent our five children together.

I have parented my children with a positive parenting approach all of their lives so they are used to my rules, and while I am pretty much a big kid and very lenient there are some things that are simply important in keeping that parental boundary up with your children.  My boyfriend wanted to be both the parent and friend all of his children’s lives but struggled with finding the happy medium that I had found as a parent wanting the same result. This alone is why we work so well together, he can see how I approach situations and set rules makes sense; I am all about give and take, teaching kids respect, trust and allowing kids to have an open forum in my home. I would much prefer to have built a strong relationship with my kids so that in the future when big deal issues arise they will not be afraid to turn to me for answers, advice and support.

Blended Family

Prior to moving in together my boyfriend and I came to a middle ground with parenting, the issue is that his kids are not used to many rules. It’s been a difficult transition as we when discussed how we would do things it involved poster board in a common family area in our new house with lists of house rules, and we have yet to create this poster board. We have yet, in two weeks, to been able to sit down and truly implement how we planned to parent our children together in this home as a family unit, but are going to take time this coming weekend to really get implementation started.

Here are some ideas we have put together to keep a happy, healthy home with boundaries, happy kids and teach our kids responsibility as well as consequences;

  • Create house rules poster board; this will cite all rules including TV shows that are not permitted to be watched by any child in this home, language usage by children that is appropriate, use of positive words are accepted in this home but not negatively putting down anyone else, walk away when you feel overwhelmed, appropriate bed times per age group and rules on electronics usage … just to name a few.
  • Create chore Charts based on Age Groups; this will list out chores for the three older kids (my daughter and his two) that they will be expected to complete when they are here. My younger two boys will have their own list of age appropriate chores on another poster board. Since the older three are here half the time or so, then they will have chores to do but not be expected to do so many chores that they are unable to have fun while here.
  • Be consistent, Firm and to the point; no more explaining the whys behind saying NO, we are the parents and all children in the house need to understand that as parents we can just say no because we simply feel that’s the best answer, there is no need to get into an explanation to your child about why you said no. Especially when said child feels they deserve, need and expect an explanation for the word no.
  • Create Consequence Board; a poster board will be created listing out consequences for actions, this will help both parents stay on track with being consistent, firm and to the point as well as working together instead of apart from each other.
  • Hang All boards in a common room area for all children to see. Sit down and explain this is our family rules, consequences and expectations of all in our family and place boards in common area of home for daily reference if need be by both parents and children.

You see, my boyfriend’s children are amazing kids but they really have been raised differently and like most co-parenting children each home is slightly different or extremely different. While it’s recommended that co-parents work together to establish similar parenting rules across households to alleviate transitional issues with the kids it’s not always how life works. This is our way of working together to implement structure ito our home so that we can all love each other as a new formed family unit, and help make transitions from one parents house to ours slightly easier.

Thinking About Being Consistent and Chores

I keep thinking back to the day when my oldest was about 2 years old, she would help me with laundry and other household chores. My oldest grew up with responsibility and consequences for her actions in a consistent manner. My oldest learned how to help her Mama around the house without complaint, it had simply become a part of her everyday life without hesitation. Now, here I am a Mom of three with the youngest being four and I don’t believe either of my sons have ever really had any consistent chores in the house. Sure they pick up after themselves when asked, usually. Sure they take care of their dishes after dinner by placing them in the sink. They put their dirty clothes in the basket, usually, after getting dressed in the morning and evening. They do not have any consistent chores and that is part of what I am trying to change.

Chores for Kids

I used to have this cute magnetic chore chart that my oldest helped me make and it was used with enthusiasm, everyone did chores and they had a little magnet creation placed under the column for said chore. I don’t know why I stopped. Another part of that chore chart was if they didn’t listen or what not, they got a tally mark and were deducted “points” from an end of week reward.

One idea I have for when we all move into this new place is to start being consistent as a parent as well as to set up specific chores for the kids. I want to ensure that each child has some chore, it will be every day help around the house as well as ensuring they pick up after their own self. I am no longer picking up toys or crayons because they didn’t pick them up their own self. It’s not my job, my job is to be Mom and ensure I teach them to be well rounded children who will turn out to be great adults who accept and understand consequences and have a sense of pride because they can pick up after their own self, take care of their own self, etc.

My idea is to have a chore chart up with simple chores for the youngest and work the chore ideas up to age appropriate levels. The older kids can have a month to accumulate “reward points” and the younger boys can have a chance to accumulate “reward points” each week. Reason being, the younger kids need a more immediate gratification feeling for their work while older kids can usually handle the waiting period of a month. At the end of each “waiting period” the children will be able to pull a “reward ticket” out of a hat or basket that is created by the parents. From there, each kid will earn a chance to pull out a “reward ticket” that has something written on it based on them getting either money for their chores, extra time with parent, or even extra time with their favorite thing to do such as laptop time or video game, etc. Each child shall pull only one “reward ticket” per month and as parents we may choose to put less “reward ticket” options in the basket if the children did not follow along with their list of chores as expected. Basically they may get some form of a reward but as they consistently do said chores their “earnings” could increase in time as they show us that they do their chores consistently.

This method sounds like it will be a rewarding experience and in turn allow the kids to feel some pride in being an important and responsible part of the household.

What are some ways you have instilled life lessons of picking up after yourself and doing chores with your kids?

 

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