This summer is about simple lessons for the kids. Nothing major, nothing ambitious. Just trying to drill into them two simple things that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their life.
Clean up after yourself
The Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts call it ‘Leave no Trace’. And the same rule should apply to the house, and really life in general (at least in a physical manner, not talking about legacies here.) There was a time when I approached house cleanliness with a ‘Broken Windows’ theory. That mess compounded mess, and therefore the solution was to have no mess at all. But this became a matter of policing, often leaving it up to us (the parents) to do the cleaning.
But the approach has changed this summer. Instead the new mantra is clean up after yourself. Each kid is responsible for their own mess(es). And therefore they should be the ones to clean up their own mess. And we made the summer chore chart with that in mind. Giving each kid a general area to police, but still leaving up to them to clean up their own mess.
This changed primarily due to their age. They are all old enough to take that personal responsibility. Plus it is a big part of their education, both Montessori and Scouting emphasize the idea of clean up after yourself, leave no trace.
But I will admit that there is an element in this of mental health for me. Because it turns the cleaning process to one of delegation rather than hustling myself. Which takes away one more thing that I can obsess over, which is part of my personal approach of the less things I can obsess over the better, letting go.
Watch the Details
Jimmy learned an important lesson in school this quarter, as his grade was completely changed because he missed an important detail. That’s a tough lesson. Like I told him, the rest of his grades were very good, and this is 7th grade, so it’s not that destructive. But it is a good lesson.
So every time I mess up a little detail I try to tell him about it, to illustrate the importance of focus. Be it missing a bill in the mail, or misreading an item number on a purchase. Or misreading a rule or item description in a role playing game. These are all things that could have been made better or avoided by focusing on the details.
This one is really just for Jimmy, as Danny and Emily don’t need to learn it yet. But that time will come.
That’s really it for the summer lessons for the kids. Learning those 2 things will make everyone’s lives better, both theirs and ours. And it will take some work, and some repetition to get there, but we are ready for it.