With summer starting tomorrow afternoon, I realized I needed to firm up my plans for what the kids will be doing each morning before they attack their technology devices and turn on never-ending Netflix. Last year I made a Screen Time & Technology Checklist of Glory, which was based on one I saw somewhere on Facebook.

The basic goal: do these tasks and then you’ve earned an hour of screen time.

I loved the idea of a checklist that would keep my kids from turning into summer zombies. Let’s just say I was overly ambitious in what I thought my kids would willingly do without complaining. For example, I added “Make or Build something.” My kids hated this. It was like forced creativity. And my own creative spirit quickly realized the horribleness of this idea. I had thought, “Oh Madeleine will love to be crafty and make something, and Benjamin will just spend some time with his Legos.” Because these are things they naturally do throughout the day. But not when forced to 20 minutes after waking up.

Here’s the full Checklist of Failure from Summer 2017:

So for this summer, I took off the “Idealized Summer of Bliss” glasses and instead made a checklist we all could live with that was rooted firmly in the grubby truth of reality. I also removed “Screen Time” from the title because I personally feel that watching a cartoon is different than playing on a tablet. And last summer I kept fudging and saying they could watch more TV later and thereby undermined my own checklist yet again.

A few other changes were needed as well. Why did I think I could get my kids to do 10 minutes of exercise?? Here in Houston, they can’t go outside without melting. And most afternoons we go to the pool anyway which provides plenty of exercise. Heck, I don’t even want to exercise for a full 10 minutes right after I wake up. So I simplified that task like a boss by splitting it into 20 jumping jacks and 20 loops (around the “circle” inside our house).

Are you ready? Here it is, the Summer 2018’s Checklist of Success, in all of its reality-embracing glory.

As much as I wanted to add tasks like, “Read for 20 minutes” (which had been on last summer’s list) I realized we just didn’t need it. My kids are avid readers who are grade levels beyond where they are “supposed” to be. I don’t need to enforce reading just because some other mom on Facebook is. My kids don’t need it and I don’t need to make reading a chore, just like I don’t need to make creativity a chore. Because for me, this kind of checklist serves two simple purposes:

  1. Provide the kids with some semblance of a routine for the summer months.
  2. Keep the kids from playing a day’s worth of technology before I even wake up….

Last summer, my kids were reasonably willing to do the first 6 tasks. Benjamin completed one handwriting sheet each morning (Okay, fine. He often did just half. Sigh.) And then they always chose jumping jacks for their 30 seconds of exercise and called it good. So really, when you compare it to last summer, I think we’re starting off from a more realistic place. I’m sure there will still be complaining…

…because what is summer without a health dose of whining…

…but at least I can stick to enforcing the entirety of this checklist (…I think).

Freebie Time!

Would you like to try this with your kids? Of course, I don’t know what your kids are like (i.e., how obedient and compliant they are first thing in the morning) so here is a template.

Handwrite the tasks with your prettiest penmanship¬†or if you have Photoshop, comment below and I’ll email you the .PSD file! Or feel free to use my checklist above!

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