Even though it’s only the middle of August and summer still seems like it might just last forever, September is coming (cue “It’s the best time of the year” jingle).
With school starting again soon, kids everywhere are trying desperately to make the most of their last few weeks of freedom. They’re forgetting to clear the table, pick up their laundry and probably playing way too much Pokémon Go.
BUT. School is coming. How can we ensure they’ll be ready and that the school year will go smoothly?
Easy. Teach them responsibility. Remind them to help out around the house, do things for themselves and help you do things for them or their siblings (all—preferably—before hatching any Pikachus or hunting down any Shellders).
By age 4, kids should be able to choose snacks (from a list or bin of food you want them to eat) and pack a suitable amount in a resealable bag like Glad Zipper Snack Bags. Older kids can make sandwiches, chop veggies, slice cheese and make healthy lunches for themselves. You just need to have the packing supplies and the ingredients and let them do the rest! If they need inspiration, have them swipe through this list of 101 school lunches.
Yeah, we know, you are allergic to dogs and cats. Or you live in a small space. Or you don’t like birds. So get a fish. Or a rock. Or a Tamagotchi. Whatever your kid can take care of that isn’t themselves or a sibling. Set a feeding and cleaning schedule and let them stick to it (and see how dirty the bowl gets when they don’t). Betas are a cheap and adorable way to teach kids responsibility (added “bonus”: you can have the first ‘circle of life’ talk when Steve passes on).
We always put a strong, plastic garbage bag in the bottom of our kids’ school bag, gym bag, sports gear bag, swim bag and even lunch box. Why? Because if they have one they’ll use it if they need it. If they don’t have one they certainly won’t go looking for one. The Glad Guaranteed Stronger bags are perfect for this because they’ll hold wet swim clothes, stinky practice unis, artwork (that can be very, very messy) and even shoes and boots.They’re also the only trash bags that neutralize odours with Febreze Freshness so nothing stinks up their bags (or our car!)…which we adore.
Does the back seat of your car look like you have 19 children who don’t actually eat Goldfish crackers (but throw them around and crush them underfoot)? Cleaning it is an excellent task for almost any aged child. If they’re not old enough to vacuum (really, is anyone not old enough to vacuum?) they can take a garbage bag and throw anything that isn’t melted into the seats or floor. Then they can wipe the seats down with a weak mixture of vinegar and water. To keep it clean (without wrapping your kids in bubble wrap) pack snacks, toys and crayons in Glad Zipper Snack or Sandwich bags (and remind them to clean up after themselves…eventually it’ll become second nature.
Teaching kids to cook is the ultimate in responsibility. Sharps, heat elements, possible broken dishes…it’s a jungle in your kitchen. But, if they can master grilled cheese, noodles or even roasting (or grilling) chicken legs, they’ll feel like Master Chefs. Confidence in the kitchen takes time though, so be around (not hovering) and available for questions, queries and confidence boosts.
Next time your little asks for water, just direct them to the fridge. No matter how old, if they can ask for water they can grab a water bottle, right?
Just keep filled water bottles in the fridge for them to grab, instead of asking you to get them water.—slightly older kidlets can even fill and replace bottles themselves. Using refillable Brita bottles is perfect since the built-in filter gives you filtered water anywhere, anytime (even at school!) and can also save you more than $500 per year compared to buying bottled water*.
*Based on average household drinking eight 8oz glasses per person per day.
Attach a notepad or check list to the fridge and inside the food cupboard doors. Get them to mark down things as they use them up. Then have them make a shopping list with what they want to eat for the week—referencing the list of what has run out. When you go shopping, give them the list they’ve made and let them scavenger hunt for the items. Making a tedious chore like grocery shopping into a game makes the time fly and the cart fill up quickly.
Letting kids choose which task they’d like to complete can help makes things fun. There’s no sense in forcing kids to do something they hate when it comes to responsibility. Whether it’s loading the dishwasher or folding socks, let the kids find a job that they like to do.
Older kids can do things like match socks, sort, and fold items. Even toddlers can help. At two, they will love handing items to you for folding, and transferring small pieces of clothing from the washer to the dryer.
While it’s best for the adults to take care of the sharp objects first, involving an older child in helping to load and unload the smaller bowls, plates, and unbreakable cups in and out of the dishwasher can encourage a sense of teamwork, and make them a part of the meal process and clean up.
Every child should be responsible for cleaning his own personal areas, including the bedroom and bathroom. This can start off as a daily “tidy up” task, and slowly graduate to weekly chores, like cleaning the toothpaste and grime out of the bathroom sink (Tip: toothpaste is actually a chrome polish…who knew??), to changing the sheets and putting away laundry.
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