The 2017 Summer Daily List

I am a list-maker at heart, so when summertime comes around I am secretly thrilled at the opportunity to make a new list to help my children organize their days. This summer our lists come in two pieces: a Household Work chart and a Daily Must Do list. Keep in mind that my children are ages 12, 9, and 7 (the 2-year old is currently exempt from the list).

The Household Work chart is simply our chore chart, and includes 5 sections. Chores are rotated weekly (I just move the names around on the chart).

  • Morning Things are the typical get ready for the day tasks: get dressed, brush teeth and hair, make your bed, make sure your clothes are put away. Each child does this everyday.
  • Each child is given one Daily Job: empty bathroom trash and wipe down the sink, empty recycling, or empty dishwasher. My kids have been doing these tasks for a while now and are comfortable with each of the tasks.
  • I am changing things up for our 5 o’clock Jobs (this used to be table jobs, and each child was in charge of one aspect of setting the table-plates, forks, or filling water cups). In our new system, one child is the dinner helper–they help me with meal preparations, and they get to give input on the menu for the week. One person is in charge of setting the table. One person is in charge of keeping the two-year-old brother Adam happy and out of trouble.
  • We have tried After Dinner Jobs in the past, but haven’t been very successful. It is often easier for me to just do the dishes, but I am finally ready to spend the time teaching my kids how to clean up after a meal. One person will clear the table and sweep the floor, one person will wash the table and load the dishwasher, and the other will rinse and wash dishes.
  • Weekly Jobs are once a week, usually on Saturdays. We have two bathrooms, and a living room, so each child gets one room. They have already been doing these jobs for a while and are fairly independent.

The other big part of our summer schedule is our Daily Must Do list. The tasks on the list are things that we believe are important to do everyday. The list includes:

  • 30 minutes of exercise (before 9 a.m.): The Florida heat and humidity keeps us mostly inside (except when we are at the pool), so it is important to get moving outside before it is too hot. The kids like ride bikes or rollerblades, or we will run/walk a few miles.
  • Scripture study: Lily and Zach each have a goal to read The Book of Mormon this year. Anwyn has her own scripture study goals.
  • Piano practice (20 minutes a day): I teach piano lessons year-round, and summertime is the perfect time to make progress.
  • Workbook pages: I ordered these Summer Brain Quest workbooks for Zach and Lily. They add stickers to a map when they complete their tasks, and the material is pretty engaging. It will keep them thinking. As a rising seventh grader, Anwyn has a school assignment to work on, or she will find other things to learn and review.
  • Memorization: we work on memorizing Articles of Faith or scriptures that we study at Family Home Evening.
  • Life Skills (choose 2 from the list): life skills are activities that we feel are worthwhile. Most activities can take 10-20 minutes each (but my hope is that they will get immersed in a task-like LEGO for example–and spend a lot more time on some). I put together a list for reference, and it includes skills that we want our kids to learn (for example-Zach needs to learn how to tie his shoes summer, and I want to focus on kitchen skills measuring, peeling, eggs, and following a recipe). You can download my list of activities here: 2017 Life Skills Suggestions

There are two other sections on the Daily List page. The Healthy Eating section gives space to keep track of the number of fruit and vegetables and sweet treats eaten each day (hopefully the fruits and veggies will far outnumber the treats!). I included this section to encourage the children to be mindful about what they are eating each day.

The last section is a Family Time Report. This is something new that I am trying. Our children need some practice speaking in front of people, so this will be their opportunity to present something that they have learned or worked on or read that day.

You may notice that I don’t have any reading time on our list. My kids are avid readers, and getting them to read is not hard (really, the effort is to get them to do something besides reading!).

By now, the question you may be asking is “how do you get your kids to actually do the list?!”. The biggest motivator for my children is getting screen time (xbox, movies, computer games, etc). The question I hear from my kids everyday is “When do we get screen time?” And the answer is “When you have finished your list.” My children will earn ten minutes for each item they complete on their Daily list, for a total of 60 minutes. If there is whining or complaining about their jobs, then they can lose screen time. Screen time if not used cannot be used another day. Screen time must be finished by 5 p.m., to prepare for dinner and allow for family time after dinner.

Completing the list should really only take 1-2 hours, and the rest of the day is open for other activities like going to the pool, playing with friends, etc.

Any questions???

Feel free to download the lists I created here: 2017 Summer List (includes the chore list and the daily must do’s).

This is what I have planned for our summer, and I’m sure I will end up tweaking it overtime. Over the years I have had a lot of different versions of the daily list. See the 2015 version, the 2014 version , the 2011 version, and the 2009 version (when my kiddos were just itty bitty!!).

Book Notes: The Picky Eating Solution

I have been feeling the need to increase the health and wellness of my family by increasing the health of our diet. A few of my children are very limited in the kinds of foods that they eat, and we all need to eat more vegetables! I have been reading a few different resources and recently read The Picky Eating Solution by Deborah Kennedy. The book had some helpful ideas, so I am sharing my notes here.

As I keep researching I have the feeling that one of my children may actually be beyond just a picky eater, moving into the realm of a resistant eater or perhaps some sensory issues. So I am not sure if all of the ideas in the book will actually work for him. However, we are working on our own variation of dinner rules.

“Not allowing dessert until enough dinner is eaten, especially vegetables, is a consequence, not a reward. So is have having your child each the healthy stuff before he can have the unhealthy part of his snack. This is really just a “this then that” technique you probably use every day, whereby you teach your child that he must first do one thing before he can get what he wants: exercise before playing video games, finish homework before playing outside, or cleanup your room before going to a friend’s house. If you take away the consequence, how in the world are you ever going to motivate your child to eat the healthy stuff?” (p. 59).

“Do not serve a snack within two hours of meal-time.”

Six Simple and Effective Food Rules to Live By

  1. Eat then treat. Ex: No dessert until the meal is eaten. No treat at snack time until a fruit or veggie is eaten. Not treats at all if enough healthy food was not eaten that day. Say “Oh, I see you haven’t eaten your carrots. We are having ice cream for dessert. You can have some once you eat your carrots. The choice is yours.”
  2. Establish the one-bite rule. She just has to take one bite (of a new food), then she can spit out if she does not like it. If there is not an intense reaction, then next time she can try two bites, then three, etc. Remain calm and don’t overreact. For extremely resistant children try the touch-smell-lick approach.
  3. Serve a fruit or veggie with every meal and snack. Children need at least two whole fruits and three vegetables a day. Consequence–if they don’t eat the 5 servings, then they do not get any processed treats.
  4. Limit food waste.
  5. Serve only one dinner. Give children the chance to offer input on what is served (pick the vegetable or the main dish).
  6. No “yuck” is allowed at the table. Consequence is a time-out in their room. They can say “This is not my favorite”.

Four Table Rules to Prevent Mealtime Chaos and Encourage Family Connection

  1. Everyone has a job to do at mealtime. Kids can help plan, pick, prep, and cook.
  2. Eat at the table.
  3. Electronics are not allowed at the table when eating.
  4. Whoever raises his or her voice leaves the table.

Helpful resources: Sabbath day and kid conversation starters

I recently came across two helpful articles on related to Sabbath Day observance. Both of them would spark important family discussions or be appropriate FHE lessons, so I am posting them here for future reference.

How Would Your Family Describe the Sabbath?

Making a Sabbath Day Plan

We are in our second week of back to school. I love the after school pick-up time, because my three school-age kids are usually bursting and the words come tumbling out quick as they all try to tell me about their day (at the same time, which gets tricky as I try to juggle three conversations plus a baby at once). But somedays the information isn’t as forthcoming, or I might want to dig a little deeper. My husband sent me the following link, which would provide great dinnertime or bedtime conversation starters.

30 Questions to ask your kid instead of “How was your day?”

I just quickly printed off the set, cut them apart and stuck them in a jar to keep handy on our table. We are ready to start tonight!

Three helpful articles for parents

A few interesting articles that popped up in my reader recently. Worth a read for parents!

Why Children Need Chores: Doing household chores has many benefits-academically, emotionally and even professionally.

1. Watch your language: thank your children for “being a helper” rather than “helping”.

2. Schedule chore time.

3. Game it:start small and have young children earn new “levels” of responsibilities, like going from sorting clothes to earning the right to use the washing machine.

4. Keep allowances and chores separate: money can lessen a child’s motivation to help, turning an altruistic act into a business transaction.

5. Types of tasks matter: chores should be routine and focused on taking care of the family (like dusting the living room or doing everyone’s laundry), not self-care (tidying one’s bedroom or doing personal laundry). Let children help in choosing tasks.

6. Talk about chores differently: instead of saying, “Do your chores,” say “Let’s do our chores.”

7. Give chores a PR boost: Don’t tie chores to punishments, talk about them positively.


9 Things Every Parent with an Anxious Child Should Try

My children have often struggled with separation anxiety (going to school or primary classes alone, etc). I thought some of these tips could help me to handle the situation better and help me to coach them through their anxiety.

1. Stop Reassuring Your Child: Use the FEEL method-Freeze, Empathize, Evaluate, Let Go

2. Highlight Why Worrying is Good: worry is perfectly normal, it can help protect us

3. Bring Your Child’s Worry to Life

4. Teach Your Child to Be a Thought Detective: Catch your thoughts, collect evidence, challenge your thoughts

5. Allow Them to Worry: worry openly in limited doses, then put them away

6. Help Them Go from What If to What Is: live in the present time

7. Avoid Avoiding Everything that Causes Anxiety: use gradual exposure

8. Help Them Work Through a Checklist

9. Practice Self-Compassion


8 Things Top Practicers Do Differently : what does “practice smarter, not harder” really mean?

As a piano teacher and a parent of piano students, I thought the results of this research study were interesting. “The researchers note that the most striking difference between the top three pianists and the rest, was how they handled mistakes.” The one key strategy=strategically slowing things down.

“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” -George Bernard Shaw –