Summer is just about here and I’m a little nervous. I always start off with good intentions. I say it will be a time to relax, to ease up on schedules, to just BE for a while. But about halfway through, this Zen Mama Wannabe starts LOSING MY MIND. The bickering, the begging for more screen time, the moaning about having to run errands, the longing for just a hour or so of time for ME – just to be able to think and have some quiet. (This is why other parents sign their kids up for camps all summer – I get it. I do). So, here I sit – wondering how the heck it will go and if it can live up to my initial expectations? (I wonder, does anything ever?)
Last summer, in response to my calls of desperation, I got a tip from my best friend that was a lifesaver. Yep, truly brilliant. She suggested I make up BINGO charts. The kids work to get BINGOS and earn prizes (either across or down – just not both or you’d be giving out prizes right and left). You can make a BINGO square be anything you want your kids to do, so you can adjust it for their ages (even works with the older kids). Just mix them up (some easy, some a bit harder) so they don’t get burned out.
My prize bag was one THEY helped me fill. Things they would always bug me for when we went to the store (ANY store). So as long as the things were relatively inexpensive, I started getting them “for the BINGO bag.” They knew I had them – but that to get them, they had to earn them. It actually incentivized them even more! Ooh how they loved picking from the BINGO bag. This year we are adding in coupons my son can earn for additional screen time. He cannot wait.
Things we put on our charts last year:
- Do 2 extra workbook pages (I make them do a couple pages each day as a standard practice over the summer – so their brains don’t turn to complete mush)
- Set and clear the table for dinner
- Play a game with your sister/brother
- Write a note (or Draw a picture - for my Little One) to a relative
- Make an art project using at least 3 different mediums
- Read for 30 minutes (or, for my Little One: listen to a Read-Along)
- Do an age-appropriate puzzle
- Try a new food
- Do something nice for someone
- Pick out a recipe to prepare with mom
- Jump on the trampoline for 10 minutes
My charts had 5 rows of 5, so some of those things were duplicated. Once they got a blackout, I made up a new chart, adjusting what was in the BINGO squares if necessary (funny the ones they struggled with and the ones they zipped through without blinking an eye). I didn't give a Free Space (I know, I'm a tough guy).
Gotta tell you: the whole system worked so well for all of us! They had things to work toward, as well as something to keep them busy when they needed something to do. I didn’t get hounded for things because they knew if they wanted that new pack of baseball cards or set of Princess markers, they had to earn them. They could get a BINGO every day if they wanted. They could fill up their whole chart as quickly as they wanted. They were in control.
Currently I’m in the process of making up this summer’s BINGO cards...which mostly involves thinking about what I want the kids to work on this summer. (They are already thinking about some of the cool stuff they want to earn from the BINGO bag.) Yeah, it’s definitely a win-win. And it sure helps my summer intentions stay (somewhat) on track!