Summer is supposed to be fun. It’s a time of sleeping in, relaxing, having movie marathons, and spending lazy days with friends. But all this unstructured time can be hard on parents, which is why one dad on Reddit came up with a strict routine for his kids to follow during the day when he and his wife are at work.
In the “Am I The A—hole?” subreddit, a dad shared that his three kids, ages between 8 and 15, are at home for summer break. He asks his kids to do chores and go running every day, which is a little unusual, right? He didn’t think anything of it until his friends, who are also parents, called him out. “Some friends were shocked that I was being so strict during summer break,” he mentioned.
Then, the dad goes into the schedule for his kids. Number one: they have daily chores. “Clean bathroom, bedrooms, playroom, and any dishes. Basically pick up after themselves.” This seems understandable, as he’s mostly asking them to clean up the messes they make during the day. But then other days, he asks for extra chores.
On Mondays, the kids have to “wash/fold/put up their laundry.” On Tuesday and Friday, they “sweep and vacuum.” And on Wednesday, he asks his kids to “mow and weed eat.” They have no extra chores on Thursday.
In addition to these chores, he also makes them run a mile every day Monday-Friday. “They wake up and run 1 mile and have 15 min. to do it,” he wrote. “If they don’t make it in 15 min. nothing happens I’m just giving them a very achievable goal.” Seems a little intense, but at least there are no consequences if they don’t do it in the time limit.
He also makes his kids turn off electronics at 12:30 p.m. every day. “Electronics are turned off at 12:30 until we get home from work around 4:30,” he said. “We have a pool and they have so many toys. They have things to do that don’t include electronics. They have to complete the chores by 4:30 so they spend the morning playing xbox or watching tv, eat lunch, then they do chores and entertain themselves. I don’t want my kids just sitting in front of a screen all day because it’s not healthy.”
“Being forced to use your imagination isn’t a bad thing as far as I’m concerned,” he continued. He then explained the running thing: “I want them to run because they all play sports and they get gassed out rather quickly. This is the first summer we’ve done the mile thing and I’m hoping it helps once fall sports starts. I’m just trying to equip my kids the best way I know how.”
Although the schedule seems strict at first glance, it doesn’t seem too bad when you think about it. The kids, who are all in sports, have to run a mile in the morning, then they watch TV or play video games the rest of the morning. After picking up after themselves — something that kids should be in the habit of doing anyway — and doing a few quick chores, they figure out ways to entertain themselves without screens.
However, some parents don’t think kids should have this much structure over the summer. The dad added, “Other parents had made comments about how summer break is all about relaxing and getting to take a break from responsibilities. All fun. I felt conflicted. So AITA?”
Many Redditors agreed with the dad’s friends.
“Sorry are you running an army unit or a family?” one person wrote. “And you are leaving them all home alone?!? This is horribly unfair to your 15 year old. You can equip them by not forcing them to be in charge of each other, providing supervision in the form of summer activities and allow them to be children.”
Another said, “Think about the relationship you want to have with your kids, not just the ‘life lessons’ you are trying to get down their throats.” Someone responded with, “Idk if it’s even so much life lessons as wanting your house cleaned for free. OP just described every chore that exists in the house and it’s being done by the kids. Having them keep THEIR room clean and do THEIR laundry is enough to teach them adult life skills, depending on age.”
Many people also commented on the lack of pool safety allowing the kids to swim alone. “I love to swim, and grew up around pools and other bodies of water,” one person said. “But pools are incredibly dangerous. You should NEVER trust kids/teens around a pool without sober and constant adult supervision. I (a competitive swimmer and CPR trained lifeguard at the time) almost drowned swimming laps by myself in my backyard pool one day when I misjudged my speed and slammed my head into the wall attempting a flip turn. Fortunately, I was only temporarily stunned and was able to get out of the pool, but that could have easily not been the case.”
Another person wrote, “15 y/o is responsible for two younger kids with full access to a pool. Even the best 15 yo will not be covering them all the time. This is how kids drown.” They also shared information from Pool Safely, which says there should always be a designated adult attending and watching kids swimming. They also shared Red Cross water safety tips, including always swimming with a sober and distraction-free adult.
Besides the pool safety aspect, other parents agreed with giving their kids a little structure during the days. “My brothers and I were free range children,” one person wrote. “We went to parks a couple miles from home. Took public buses to the theaters and malls by ourselves in a couple of major cities we lived in. Our instructions were that we could play wherever until the street lights came on. The only caveat was that we had to stay together. This was while we were 15, 13, and 11. They are at home where I am sure the parents have cameras and check in on them periodically. The chores they have [are] nothing strenuous or that should be out of reach for kids their ages. I don’t understand why it isn’t okay for children to be given some responsibility and independence at the appropriate age.”
Another said, “Yeah i think NAH but OP could consider a more flexible schedule. Commenters are making OP sound like the worst parent ever or some drill sergeant but just because he listed all the chores and people are weirded out by running a mile, but they missed how his kids play Xbox in the morning and and do whatever they want after they finish chores also. Honestly it’s not bad to give kids structure and some exercise.”
The dad went back to his original post to clarify a few things for commenters.
“This was the exact response I expected,” he wrote, before revealing that he showed his kids the thread. “They said they spend 30 min on chores most days and 15 min running.” Honestly, that sounds pretty reasonable!
“The 15 y/o relaxes most of the day and said the only time he feels like a parent is when the younger two fight and he has to break them up,” the dad added. “90% of the day is playing and 10% is work.”
He continued, “They are literally learning to clean up after themselves. If they make a mess it’s cleaned up. I’m glad so many of you are in the financial situation to afford nannies, summer camps, days care etc. But that ain’t us. We work together. When mom and dad are home we chores too and on weekends we all play together.”
“They don’t swim unless they are all together,” he added.
Having a bit of structure isn’t a bad thing, but maybe the dad should limit swimming (and mowing and weed-eating) until at least one parent can be outside with them. And as an oldest daughter who was often asked to watch my younger siblings, I implore you: pay the 15-year-old, or at least give him extra privileges for the additionally responsibility of babysitting!
Check out these toys to keep kids off screens this summer.