The Chat: Summer's up, work begins

JEN: It's Memorial Day Weekend, which means summer in my book. So of course the kids have two weeks of school left.

MISSIE: Right. Our snowman is almost melted, so summer must be around the corner.

JEN: When I was growing up, we never had school after Memorial Day. My hometown still works on that schedule. In fact, all of my nieces and nephews are officially on summer vacation now.

JENNY R: Why do we get out so late? I hate that summer is so short!

JEN: I think it's because of our spring break. I have to say, I'd gladly give up spring break to have our summer vacation moved up.


MISSIE: Me, too!

JEN: I've developed something of a love/hate relationship with summer vacation. It used to be all love, when my boys were younger and the sandbox provided an entire afternoon's entertainment.

JENNY R: It's harder as the kids get older.

MISSIE: …and Legos can't entertain them all day.

JEN: With my husband working from home now, this summer is going to be … interesting. I fear that Jay may pack up and leave for the cabin for the summer by June 8. Sure, there's no Internet, landline, or a/c. The wiring is suspicious at best. And it's crawling with wood ticks. But, in the end, it may still feel like the better deal.

MISSIE: I'm really wondering what you're going to do, Koski. You could pitch a tent in the backyard for the kids. "Look kids! You get to camp all summer!"

JEN: That's a brilliant idea … but not likely. So help a girl out. What do you do when the kids are driving you crazy and you have to get them out of your hair?

MISSIE: Lock them in their rooms. Duh. Then I start pulling from the bucket list: Spam Museum, tubing in Lanesboro, latest movie.


JENNY R: Chores, chores, chores. Momma wins! Plus, don't forget, I have a "get along" shirt.

MISSIE: What's that? Do I need one?

JENNY R: No, your kids are perfect.

JEN: It's when the "I'm boreds" come out that I start going nuts. Do you know what I'd give for a few hours of boredom once in awhile?

JENNY R: My kids never say that — mostly because I have baseboards and five bathrooms to clean. If I hear "I'm bored," off they go with a brush and a bucket of some sort.

MISSIE: Exactly. I've already drafted an Excel spreadsheet for summer chores. I'm personally so sick of the litter box that I'm counting the days until summer.

JEN: That's one thing I love about summer vacation: I don't have to empty a dishwasher or fold a towel for three solid months. I make a chore list every morning with little check-off boxes.

JENNY R: And if it's not done correctly, I make them do it over. I am a meanie. Do it right, do it well or do it again.


MISSIE: I actually do the white glove test — with my bare finger — after they dust. And all chores have to be done before we can do something fun, like go to the pool. For me, the challenge is blocking out all the kicking, screaming, "no-one-else-has-to-do-this!" complaints.

JEN: What? You didn't know that your kids are the only ones in the city who have to help out around the house?

JENNY R: I'm going to make a bigger effort to have their chores done by a certain time each day, rather than our usual "do your chores before you get to do something fun." Otherwise, they say, "Eh, we didn't want to do anything, anyway."

MISSIE: Shut up! That's hilarious! Do you pay your kids for chores? We do a summer allowance.

JENNY R: Not "everyday chores." They don't get paid for the things that have to be done to keep our household running.

JEN: We pay a weekly allowance in the summer. To get it, they're expected to have completed the daily checklists. Plus, our oldest son mows the lawn. He doesn't get extra for that … but he thinks he should.

MISSIE: Years ago, my friend Janae taped $100 for each kid to her refrigerator. The kids got the money at the end of the summer, but every time they fought or didn't do their chores, she subtracted from it. Brilliant!

JEN: OK, that's pretty good.


JENNY R: It's a valuable lesson, if it works. Do your job(s) and reap the rewards!

MISSIE: Well, no matter what summer brings, it's going to be awesome. Margaritas on my deck every chance we get!

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