Simplify Your Summer with 5 Easy Rules

By Tara Aronson

Summer is practically here. Soon our little darlings will be at home – with us – ALL DAY! How will we (and our homes) survive the onslaught of mud, finger-paints and toys? Simple. We’ll set our ground rules for summer now. And stick to them.

Simplify-summer

Here are the 5 big ones I put into play:

1. Keep it (them) outside. When the sun is shining and it’s warm and wonderful outside, kids should be there, too! We’re not raising moles here. No TV or Wii games during daylight hours. That rule alone should minimize toys strewn around.

2. Create no-shoes zones. Leave all shoes at the door. This rule will also minimize in and out traffic – especially if the kids are wearing sneakers they have to take time to lace up.

3. Enlist the troops. Hand out chores for each kid. No weekend fun till the week’s chores are done.

4. Forget cleaning day. Instead of setting aside a whole precious morning (or worse – a whole day) for cleaning, try cleaning as you go. Trash on Monday, baths on Tuesday, kitchens on Wednesday, laundry on Thursday, floors on Friday. And we’re off for the weekend!

5. Make a month of menus. Figuring out what to cook for dinner occupies too much time and brainpower. At the beginning of each month, ask each member of the family to write down his or her 10 favorite dinners and his/her five favorite lunch and breakfast foods.

Get out the calendar and mark through the days when the family’s eating out. Then plug the family’s request into the remaining days. Now we can shop by the week and make everyone happy – at least for a couple of meals a week.

Now we can enjoy the sunny days, too!

Tara Aronson is a mom of three, lifestyle expert, and author of “Mrs. Clean Jeans’ Housekeeping with Kids” (Rodale) and “Simplify Your Household” (Reader’s Digest Publishing). Tara most recently shared her tips for family laundering on “The Rachael Ray Show” (February 4, 2009). Tara’s website offers tips and strategies for simplifying family life, including “Motivating Kids to – Gasp! – Clean”.

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