Parenting by Checklist

Summer will soon be upon us, and while I’m looking forward to spending more time with my kids, I’m also a little nervous about how we’ll all adjust to the new routine. If not for school schedules and the dreaded possibility of a tardy slip, my kids would gladly laze in their beds and dawdle over breakfast until midday. I’m convinced that they may have been sloths or tortoises in former lives.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not opposed to having those lazy days at all. But sometimes you really need to get out of the house with the kids, whether it’s to run an errand, meet some friends at the park, or hit the Starbucks drive-thru. And once those warm summer days begin, it becomes a massive feat in our house to get everyone up, moving and ready for the day.

I got a preview of this last month when we had a school holiday. The kids and I were planning to head to the zoo, but the kitchen was a disaster, the guinea pigs needed feeding, and lunches needed to be assembled. Oh, and no one was dressed or remotely ready to leave the house. Also, though showering on days like this is definitely optional, I really, really wanted to sneak one in.

I’m a person who lives by lists; heck, I’ll even write something down on a to-do list just so I can check it off a few seconds later. So that morning, I decided to roll with this aspect of my personality.

“Girls,” I announced. “We’re going to make a list of all the stuff we need to do before we head out.”

They were intrigued. So far, so good.

I had my second grader write everything down, and gave my kindergartener the task of checking off each completed item. Yes, I even added in a shower for myself…if it’s on the list, it has to get done, right?

Not only did we get everything on the list finished, the kids ate it up. They were excited to complete each task, and they especially loved making lunches together. As a bonus, I told them to go tidy their rooms while I hopped in the shower, and they did that too. 

I’m hoping this wasn’t a fluke and I can use this strategy again on future holidays and summer days. I think what helped most was keeping the tasks simple and feasible for my kids, involving them in creating and managing the list, and having a fun reward at the end (in our case, seeing the cool animals at the zoo).

Do you ever parent by checklist? Let us know in the comments!

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