Happy Spring! I don’t know about you, but once it’s above 48 degrees consistently, I am craving to be outside as much as I can. Seriously. I have professional rain gear that proves my love for the outdoors, no matter the slop Mother Nature rains down on me–she’s not stopping me from stepping foot outside, because I am prepared with insulated, waterproof rubber boots!
Since we all know Mother Nature is never consistent, especially in Wisconsin, I decided to tackle my outdoor projects as a family this year. Ordinarily, I have a few annual traditions I’ve been performing in years past; actions that signal to my kids that warm weather is approaching. Inevitably they get extremely excited about not being cooped up any longer, and I get excited because of the opportunity to soak in some vitamin d and fresh air while the getting’s good (you know, that small window of opportunity somewhere between May 15th and August 20th when the weather is perrrrrrrfect).
Normally, to trigger springtime, I like to pressure wash things (no, not my kids), I put out the outdoor rugs to stave off the inevitable mud and grass that no one likes to claim as their own, the porch swing gets hung, and the outdoor table and umbrella get cleaned off and placed in the backyard. I usually lay down more mulch around the house to cover all the weeds that refused to perish over our not-cold-enough-winter (I will deny ever saying that come next November). But these are just warm-ups for my real to-do list.
When the weather turns to t-shirt weather, I must admit, my mind’s eye creates an invisible to-do list which compiles all the seemingly never-ending outdoor jobs, and my list is then also never-ending, like one of those old calculators that has its own printer, computing all the jobs that will continue piling up, over and over again, and that’s not even counting all the things that need to get done inside my house too! Before I get too overwhelmed, though, I realize something.
I am not alone! I don’t have to tackle all this stuff by myself! My kids are old enough to share in the revolving summer job duties! And guess what!? So are yours!!
My kids are coming to an age where they are earning increased responsibility, so that means they each are going to be doing some outside “jobs”– I know, I know, why do quotes keep appearing before and after the word JOB. It’s because that word can be synonymous with many: chore, activity, work, duty, assignment, lesson–it’s all in your perspective and how you want to view these tasks.
When I am presenting my kids with their assigned “job”, it’s important to express how it will impact the family and to impress upon them that it’s not just busy work. That whatever outdoor jobs they are doing is relevant.
Sounds a bit over the top for plain, old, outdoor chores, right? No. As adults, we know the reason we are doing certain jobs, but kids don’t. They are able to tackle the task, but they might not be able to infer the reason for doing them. It’s our obligation to communicate it to them, no matter their age. Our outdoor “jobs” are purposeful and help the family– if our “jobs” are done, then we can relax and have fun as a family.
Now, having mentioned that “all jobs are purposeful” doesn’t mean that every family member is qualified to do the same jobs. If you need to have a list of chores by age level, here it is:( blank ).
Yes, you read that correctly, it’s blank. It’s up to you to determine what is appropriate for your own kids. If I tell you that my ten-year-old is pressure washing my house, cleaning my gutters, and mowing the lawn, that doesn’t mean your ten-year-old has to do the same. The same goes if I decide to pay my seven-year-old twenty dollars to sweep the garage and organize the shoe shelf– you don’t have to do that either.
You’ve come this far in my article, so I have to apologize if you were looking for a concrete list of age-appropriate outdoor jobs for your kiddos — but there isn’t one.
If you’ve read this far, it’s because you can relate to the never-ending list of to-do’s that we as moms experience; and here’s my advice to you– decide to tackle your “jobs” together as a family this year. Communicate to your family how they can take the load off of you. Moms don’t have to do it all– but if you don’t reach out and share that invisible, ever-growing list, your kids won’t know what’s on it.
When you are finding yourself overwhelmed, take a seat, have a cup of tea/coffee while it’s still warm, and make a decision to share your to-do list. Your kids will feel important (even though they may grumble and complain at first–but isn’t that just their usual ritual?). Sharing the load will help all of you be able to relax a little sooner, and enjoy the short window of beauty that’s headed our way, even if you may need to sport a pair of rubber boots and nylon jacket while appreciating it.
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