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Sensational Ways To Decide What To Do: Summer Standoff Idea #1

Posted by Jen on June 10, 2009 at 7:45 AM in Summer Fun
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If your house is like my house, there are as many opinions as there are people when it comes to deciding what to do. What one person considers to be fantastic fun, the other considers a drag, and on and on it goes. How to get the whole crew on the same page when everyone has so many varying perspectives on what makes for a good time?

I have yet to completely crack this code, but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve that seem to work, especially when it's just me and the kids. I'll be offering a little series this summer of suggestions for those summer standoff moments. Here's my first:

At the beginning of summer have everyone (littles included) sit around the table. Help each child make a list of their absolute favorite summer activities. If you have a wide range of ages, ask your bigger kids to be sure to include some items even the little ones can do. Let everyone pick their personal top five (repeats are fine) and write the selected entries on little slips of paper. Add in your own essential sanity savers ("30 free minutes of screens" or "Watch a quiet movie") and throw all the papers in a bowl you can keep somewhere safe.

This is how it will work. Each kid will take a turn pulling an activity out of the pile, knowing that sooner or later their absolute fave will be the choice pick. If you're kids are really, really into it, you can take the list one step further and add some qualifiers. We marked some of our favorites with a little drawing of the sun to signify that that particular activity required good weather and others with a dollar sign to show that this activity would only be possible if mom had cash on hand. That way when "bike riding" comes up on a rainy day, there's no drama and everyone understands that (of course) we have to draw again. And one more thing--make sure that the slip of paper doesn't go back into the pile after your outing--that way you'll be sure to do everything on everyone's list, at least once this summer.

You'll note this is really just a glorified way of learning how to take turns, but that's exactly the point. Some sibling sets need one more layer between themselves and the decision making process and a tiny slip of paper in a bowl is sometimes just the right thing.

What do you think? Would it work at your house? Why or why not?

In case you are one of the moms out there saying, "But, but, but, how do you deal with _______?" or "What about __________?" I'll be happy to address your questions or objections in the comments below or even a future post.


Jess writes...

That sounds a lot like what I've been meaning to do (read: too disorganized to do yet). A while back I made some contact-paper laminated tokens to help with choosing how to spend screen time, and I've been considering making a pile of similarly laminated tokens to help us choose activities for the summer.

I'm also considering a giant whiteboard in our hallway so that we can jot down new ideas about things we really want to do, from puppet shows at the library to errands the kids want to run to folk festivals coming up. I can't hold it all in my head!

Jen Lee writes...

Love how simple this idea is--no organizational supplies required.

jen lemen writes...

i really really like the white board idea, jess--that sounds great!

Nicole writes...

I only have one child, who'll turn five this summer, but he absolutely refuses to make a decision about anything! This would be a great way to get him to commit to an activity without (hopefully) a lot of drama and constant mind changes. Great idea!

helene writes...

You guys are so organized! The slip of paper idea is great. Another nice option we have in the DC area is to simply pick an embassy and see what they're up to over the summer. Most have free or cheap programs for everyone and just going is an adventure, let alone an education in culture. For instance, typing in French Embassy into Google yields which has their summer music festival coming up. A great way to learn about different countries AND do something fun and unusual.

Becky writes...

This is a great idea - plus it gives the younger ones a chance to voice themselves and not be overshadowed by the older ones. We try to pick themes for various weeks (not all of them, I'm not that organized). Like if we have a week about space, we read only books about space, rockets, etc, go to the Nasa visitor center and Air&Space museum. That works really well. This summer we're adding in countries as a theme - studying and doing art, making food, traditions from a particular country. Thanks Helene for your idea - that will work fabulous with our country theme summer!!

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