With the sun shining way past dinnertime, we find our families taking advantage of the extra light-filled hours to walk the dog, play ball, visit the park and even lounge longer at the pool. Summer gives us additional time for the fun things in life, and for most of us that doesn’t include household chores. While school may be out for the summer, the dust bunnies, smelly socks and mounds of dishes don’t go on vacation. Here are a few tips for the family to balance the “have tos” with the “want tos” of summer.

  • Have one laundry basket for the entire house. This will help you stay on top of the laundry since multiple baskets can add up fast with dirty clothes that require prolonged hours to wash, dry, fold and put away. If you’re hearing your mother say, “Sort your clothes,” that rule has relaxed with the innovations of today’s detergents and appliances. One load a day is easier to fit into a hectic schedule versus a marathon washing session.
  • Rethink what and how you eat. Meals that incorporate grilling out use fewer utensils to prepare, thus limiting cleanup. Foods such as sandwiches, kabobs and handheld desserts gets you out of a hot kitchen faster, and when you use disposable plates and cups, the dishwasher doesn’t work overtime. Wedges of watermelon satisfy a sweet tooth while saving a plate and fork, which require washing. Think of the time spent on empting a dishwasher on a daily basis. These tips may all sound simple, yet the domino effect can eat up your time. No pun intended.
  • Stay on top of the paper clutter by throwing away junk mail immediately. Make it a habit to process your mail daily in the same location. Use the iRAFT method—Immediate, Read, Action, File, Toss. Keep a garbage can and shredder nearby.
  • Ask for help. When the family works together on age-appropriate tasks, you create a sense of teamwork with the reward of more time for summer fun. Crank the music, arm everyone with their cleaning tool, and make it a race to get it done so everyone can move on to more fun things.

It’s fascinating how food, clothes, and even household chores change with the seasons.  With winter, we cocoon, commit to a thick novel and enjoy meaty casseroles. Spring means a rebirth of energy, associated with new colors and textures in our fabrics and in our yards. In the summer, we look to simplify everything around us, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear, to the household tasks we manage. No one wants to clean out their garage in this heat; that’s saved for the cooler, shorter days of fall with a football game playing in the background. Simplify your summer. It’s that simple.