School is out and summer’s here! That means families can also enjoy a well-deserved break in hectic homework and extracurricular activity schedules. Of course, kids are geared up and ready to have some fun in the sun. But, giving kids household responsibilities during summer vacation also provides a great character-building opportunity. Here’s a look at five things kids can do to pitch in around the house and neighborhood during summer break.
Washing the cars is a terrific family task because kids of all ages can help. Just get a bucket of soapy water, a bucket of plain water, some rags, sponges or a chamois and a hose. First, hose off the car to loosen any dirt. Then rub each section of the car with a soap-filled rag, starting at the top and working your way down. Make sure to rinse the rag it in the plain water frequently to keep it clean. And, rinse each section with the hose after it is washed to prevent streaks and spots from the soap drying in the heat.
Wearing bathing suits and having a hose fight or running through the sprinkler after you’re done is a great way to cool off and reward the kids for their hard work. This activity also makes a great volunteer job for kids to help out elderly or challenged neighbors who might have difficulty doing it themselves.
Organizing a Garage or Yard Sale
Having a garage sale is a great way to clear clutter and pull in some extra cash. Let the kids share in the work by sorting through toys and clothes in their rooms to find things to sell. Their rooms may even end up cleaner and more organized in the process! Buy pre-printed multi-colored self-adhesive tags at any office supply store and let the kids price out their items. Once items are gathered, kids can sweep out the garage, help set up card tables, racks and displays. It can also be fun for younger kids to sell cups of lemonade or punch to browsing customers. Decide in advance how much, if any, profit kids will get from their added items. If budget allows, going for pizza, ice cream or some kind of treat is a great way to say thanks at the end of the sale.
Pets are a beloved, important part of many families. Summer is a perfect time for kids to take more of an active role in their care. Rotate responsibilities like feeding, walking and bathing the dog, feeding and grooming the cat, cleaning cat litter, cleaning the fish aquarium and keeping bird feeders in the yard full. Dog walking or pet sitting for elderly or vacationing neighbors is a nice way for kids to reach out and help others.
There are so many positive, healthy benefits to be gained from spending time outdoors. Doing summer yard work gives kids a great opportunity to exercise and get some fresh air. Routine tasks can be rotated and divided among family members including mowing the grass, trimming the shrubs (with adult supervision), watering plants and weeding the garden. For teens, doing yard work for neighbors for an agreed upon fee can be a great way to earn some money beyond their allowance. Talk with them about what they will do with any money earned.
Deck or Patio Gardening
Maintaining a deck or patio garden is especially good for families that live in apartments, condos or restricted subdivisions. A variety of colorful flowers and plants grow and thrive from containers. Spiral topiaries offer height and shape variation. Banana plants grow tall and withstand heat well. Lantana, passionflower, agave and angelonia (summer snapdragon) are popular flowers that add color and flourish from containers. Kids can help pick out flowers or plants, and decorative pots or boxes. Once home, they can add soil and fertilizer and create a pretty presentation. Maintenance responsibilities include regular watering, adding plant food and periodically removing faded blooms (with adult supervision).
Several vegetables also grow well in deck containers including tomato plants, bell and chili peppers , lettuce, carrots, cucumbers and green beans, to name a few. Cucumbers and green beans will climb. So, cucumbers will need a trellis or support posts and it’s better to stick with bush beans that only grow to one or two feet on their own stems. Kids can water the veggies then help pick, clean, eat or freeze them. It’s a great sense of accomplishment for kids to know they’re eating something they grew themselves.
Lori Melton is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.