Four Ideas for Summer Chores

It’s true. I’ve tried several different reward systems and gimmicks to get my girls to do their chores. What I’ve learned is that most of them work for a little while, and then the kids either get bored with it, or I am not consistent enough with using the system and it sort of falls apart.

I find that summer is a great time to introduce a new way to do chores, and I think that changing things up a little bit makes the children more responsive. And sometimes things work better for younger kids than they do for older ones, and vice versa. It’s all about finding what works for your kids right now, and not being afraid to make changes and improvements when things stop working well. The best chore system is the one that is working now.

Here are four things that I have tried at various times in my parenting, and all worked really well.

Four Ideas for Summer Chores

The Points System

This is the first chore system I ever used that was more elaborate than a sticker chart. At the time, my older daughters were ages 5 and 7 (the youngest was 2 and was not included in this system). I think this is a great one for younger kids as it not only emphasizes doing work, but the rewards are also tied to their behavior.

I used jars filled with pompoms to count the points. They earned points by doing both required and optional chores, they lost points through negative behavior, and they could purchase either activities or items with earned points. (If I were to do it again, I would probably have them earn extra points through positive behavior as well.)  You can read more about it HERE, there is also a printable there of exactly which criteria I used for chores, behavior, and rewards.

Summer Buckets

Chore Buckets

Each girl got a bucket with her name on it, plus I made a chore bucket. I wrote out as many chores as I could think of that would need to be done on a weekly-ish basis and then put those chores on the sticks. They were things like watering plants, mopping floors, or cleaning baseboards. Every morning, each girl would draw two sticks and do those jobs on top of cleaning their rooms and cleaning the playroom together.

The buckets were easy to make, I purchased small galvanized buckets similar to these, then painted them with a square of chalkboard paint. I figure they can be reused for many things by simply changing the chalk-written label.

For every chore they completed, they earned  American Girl credits towards our vacation to Chicago that summer, where we visited American Girl Place for the very first time. They were so excited about that, and it was a huge motivator. Before we left on our vacation, they turned in their American Girl credits for cash to spend at the store (or anywhere in Chicago, but let’s face it, they all bought American Girl stuff with them). If you have a family vacation coming up, having Disney credits or vacation points or whatever you want to call them is a wonderful way to get them excited about working. My girls didn’t miss a single chore before vacation. After vacation, when the promise of an American Girl wonderland was no longer on the table, they weren’t quite as motivated to get them done, even though we had other rewards in place.

If I were to do this system again, I would add more daily-type chores into the buckets. Let’s just say I had super clean baseboards and floors that summer, but more obvious jobs were sometimes neglected. You can read more about it HERE, plus find out about the summer reading and the bored bucket that was also instituted that summer.

chore charts

Want to make a summer bored bucket? Bored Bucket Printables


As the girls get older, I find that I want them to be able to do housework without much help from me, but they sometimes don’t know exactly how to do the job right. I instituted the idea of clipboards with detailed instructions for each room they were to clean because I was tired of going to check on their work and having to point out all of the things that were left undone.

I have been accused of micromanaging my children because of this particular system, but it’s actually extremely hands-off. They take their list, they do the work, and I rarely have to point out anything that was missed anymore because they simply don’t miss anything! And we don’t use these charts very often at this point because they all have most of the rooms in the house down. A clean house is hugely important to me, and I want my girls to know how to clean things properly so that they will know when they leave my home. If that is micromanaging them, then so be it.

In this system, each girl has a clipboard (which I decorated with mod podge and patterned paper). I gave them each one room in the house to clean each day, plus a smaller paper with a few extra easy chores on it. You can read more about that summer HERE, including summer reading and how I started dealing with the snack situation.

Chore checklists and zones

Checklists and Allowance

This is the system I am currently using. This summer I will probably add a few more requirements (the kids have more time to help around the house during the summer than they do during the school year), but we will keep the same basic system.

This is much less gimmicky than past systems, but now that they are older (Daughter #1 is 13, Daughter #2 is 11, and Daughter #3 is 7), it works. I may add some of the gimmicks in this summer just for my youngest, but the other two don’t respond as well to that anymore. They all respond well to money as a motivator, so allowance has been very successful.

It’s very simple: Each girl has to practice, do her zones, do her morning routine, and read each day. Mom or Dad must check off the list to ensure that things have been done, but that’s it. If they do their stuff, they earn their allowance. If they don’t, they don’t. You can read more detail about this system HERE. (And if you want to see the cute bulletin board I made to put on my cabinet instead of taping the checklists to it, you can see that HERE.)

Summer is coming up pretty quickly, and I am excited for a change in our routine, but I want to be ready for the inevitable chaos. Chore systems are one way that really helps me to keep the summer chaos at bay.

What is your favorite way to approach summer chores for your children?

You might also be interested in:

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Thanks. I'm trying to figure out what we'll be doing this summer (7,5, 2).


Love these ideas!

Louida M

These are some great ideas because it is a pain to get my daughters to do their chores.

Steph @ Crafting in the Rain

I think well change up our system so it feels different than school days!


This is a really creative idea to get children to do chores. When summer starts it seems to melt away their memory to do them. aha.


I think it's important to do this. At my house we are all so tired of the routine by the end of the year (and to think we have three weeks left…ugh!). But the girls get really excited when we have our first family meeting to talk about summer. It's amazing how changing things up a little bit makes a huge difference in attitude!


It's always a pain, isn't it? 🙂


Good luck. I'd love to hear about what you end up doing, whether or not it's something on this list. I love seeing what works for others.


Exactly! Summer isn't for chores, Mooooooooom!


Thank you!


I love this, so happy I found your blog. I pinned a bunch of ideas for the future, thanks so much!


I came across this post on Pinterest today and what a blessing it is. My husband got laid off last week and I've been struggling with anxiety and fear. Your post reminded me in a very gentle way that Heavenly Father will bless us and help us while we face trials and challenges. Thank you so much for your words of comfort!


You're welcome! I hope you find them useful.

Meredith S

All great ideas, and I have used a few of these myself. I agree it is really hard to maintain these for any long period of time, but over the summer is a great time to start them. I think I may try the bucket idea this summer. It will be perfect for all my children. For those that can't read, I can just put a picture on the stick! Thanks for the ideas, Lara!


I like the idea to put a picture on the stick. Good luck with summertime and kids!

Jayne Evans

Thank you for sharing this. I learned many of the same…all of the same lessons when my husband was out of work. God is so good and blesses us beyond measure. And you are so right about there being much worse to have to deal with. My heart hurts for them as well and they are in my prayers often.


God does bless us so much, doesn't He? The blessings are there for us to see if we just look, no matter the trials we are bearing. Thanks for stopping by and uplifting me with your words today. 🙂


Laura, I'm so sorry! I understand that anxiety and fear so well. I know that He will take care of you, even though things are challenging. You will come through it a stronger person, even though I wish you didn't have to go through it all. Best wishes as your husband looks for new work–you are in my prayers!

adrienne (@susmakessupper)

great ideas. getting kids motivated to help out is always a challenge. the point system worked really well for us when my older kids were in elementary school…now if I can just find a way to inspire my teens to get moving on chores without the nagging! 🙂


Thanks for linking up to the WWDParty. I'm pinning it AGAIN…this time to the party's board. 🙂


I'm going to have to borrow this quote. I know a few people who need to hear this…soon.


I'm a college student who can't seem to get hired anywhere this summer! I am living at home instead of renting a place and that is really helping me out! Thank you for putting this in perspective as I think I need to learn a lesson or two from this. A focus on the positives is what is going to get me through!


Good luck this summer, Marissa! I think it's really cool how things work out when we look for creative ways to save and commit to doing it. I go back to the lessons I learned that summer as well, because every summer is a little bit leaner for us since I try not to work in the summer at all so I can be home with the kids on their vacations.

Melissa French

Chore systems are always evolving – as soon as you perfect something they outgrow it! Hello from Thrifty Thursdays!


So true! Just how life goes, I guess, we can't ever be complacent! Thanks for dropping by. 🙂




What a beautiful and refreshing look at a hardship. God will help those that help themselves plus a bonus….friendship, kindness and community. Thank you for sharing your story!


I agree full heartling about this idea. I have done the same this summer. I was a young professional that committed all my time to work. I decided to take time off for the summer to be with my ailing father and it has really changed my world. Life is to short to not enjoy the simple things in life. Long walks and conversation has created connections with people that I will never be able to replace. Although I know financially I will need to go back to work. I will take lesson of spending time and connecting with loved ones are priceless, and that is a bigger reward than money will ever be.