Growing up at the beginning of each summer we whipped up big posters filled with our “summer goals.” It was a way for our parents to get us going on learning and progressing…and also earning some extra cash. Like all good ideas my parents had, Dave and I adopted this practice hook, line and sinker. Each summer as soon as the last school bell rings, we sit down together and write out summer goals…with a plan.

And man alive, I am in love with those little things.

They give our kids something to really work hard toward and they give me a sense of satisfaction that our precious summer is being well-used.

Setting up summer goals

Oh, the way we do these goals has changed over the years. But the idea is always the same: think hard about the ways you’d like to progress and grow, and set goals to help you get there.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2022-07-11-at-3.35.23-PM.png

The kids make goals in five main categories, which are the “five-facets” we talk about in interviews:

  • Mental
  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Emotional

Usually we have “bubble charts” in all sizes where you fill in all the little circles when you finish a task:

girls holding up summer goals

Summer goal charts with bubbles for kids to fill in.We have done everything from having the kids write those goals on big posters in the kitchen to hanging them on the door of their bedrooms so they won’t miss them.

Then the kids get going doing all that good stuff.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2022-07-11-at-3.35.05-PM.png

One year we did calendars to mark off as we went along.

calendar to help mark off goals

Whatever works for your family is what is the best idea!

How can you take the nagging out of summer?

The only thing I don’t like about summer is how sometimes I feel like I turn into a big nagger to help the kids stay on task.

Becoming a “big nagger” is not part of what I daydream about when I think of summer.

That’s what I love so much about these goals.

We have time set aside each day where it was just part of the day to get those suckers done.

It isn’t a perfect plan, of course. Some summers work better than others.

But those kids work and are productive before they set out to roam the neighborhood.

And I love it.

Come up with a Plan

My wise sister Saren had an extra plan to help kids navigate their goals even better. Sometimes kids look at the big overwhelming picture of what they want to do, but don’t know which steps to take to get there.

Have I mentioned that my sister is a genius? 🙂  (She even made up forms and wrote up many more great details about her summer planning f you are interested in checking that out…very motivating I have to say…thank you Sar!)

So we pumped out some weekly schedules.

…as a companion to those goals.

We printed out a new checklist for each week.

Some charts to aid with keeping track of the summer goals

And boy howdy how that “plan” changed things.

I think sometimes kids are so motivated by each other’s progression.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2022-07-11-at-3.37.54-PM.png

Is there a reward for accomplishing the goals?

Growing up we usually had money attached as the reward for accomplishing our goals.

In our family it’s changed each year.

Sometimes money, sometimes time (late-nights, dates with parents…back when that worked!, etc.), sometimes something they really wanted (clothes, toys, etc.)

Some years the reward is a special family trip.

One year the kids all worked together to earn something they all wanted (Rockband).

Max, Elle and Grace holding up Rockband

One year when the reward was cash, they get to double that cash if they get every single thing checked off every single day each week.

I wish I had pictures of the stars in their eyes when we told them that little nugget of information because they are all in need of money right at about this point of the summer.

Kids like schedules

I love summer goals because there is something about kids knowing expectations that does some thing so good for them. Especially if they’re the ones who make up the expectations!

Lucy is particularly into this new system.

She is a schedule girl if I’ve ever seen one.

I think all kids love to know what’s expected. They love to cross things off. They love to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Some extra helps for summer goals

These jars are a pretty awesome companion to summer goals.

One is filled with writing prompts. You see, writing is always a part of the “mental” section of summer goals. I feel so strongly that kids need to be writing in the summertime! So writing is one of their “check-offs” each day. 

You can find all kinds of writing prompts by googling for ideas, so many great ones out there!

(I have loved reading what they write.)

The other jar is called the “Job Jar.” It holds the extra jobs they “get” to do to help around the house for another one of their “check-offs.”

This second one is worth it’s weight in gold because along with summer goals we are working on putting away the things we get out.  (Including me…sometimes I’m horrible at that so I know where they get their bad habits.)

If I see something the kids have used that they haven’t put away I remind them politely to do what they know they should have done without me asking and then sweetly tell them to grab an extra job from the job jar and that maybe that extra job will help them to remember to just put their things away in the first place next time.

I mean, who wants to get hit with an extra job every two minutes?

Apparently my kids did for the first couple days, but they are quick learners, I tell you.

And our house is much cleaner.

And I am not such a big nagger.

So we are all happy.

I do love summer goals!

Claire holding up her summer goal plan chart

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  1. Sounds like what we're doing this summer! Charts don't work for us- we never remember to check anything off because either it's bedtime and the chart is downstairs or it's not and the chart is upstairs and no one can ever find the pen/pencil/marker/stickers…anyway, now we have "clothespin chores" which are just basic things (get dressed, put away dishes, etc.) that the kids do each day and they move a clothespin from one side of their door hanger to the other. They also have to do 2 chore sticks (they pick from a jar) in the morning and one after lunch, and they can do more to earn more allowance money. Thanks to your inspiration we've also included goals this summer- physical, spiritual, mental, and personal. Still trying to work out how to do those without a chart and without nagging…I may just have to give in and do charts! 🙂

  2. ooh this is so inspired, last night i thought for FHE tonight, we are going to do a summer goals & summer fun chart, and then i thought, i wish Shawni has out her summer goals up so i can see them.. and voila this morning!!!

    I love the new system, i am going to try that one too!! yrah, thanks for sharing!

  3. These are great ideas…I needed something to get my son going…he is spending too much time playing a new video game this summer. Thanks so much. Maybe a bit of bribery will help things a long.

  4. I got my kid's writing ideas by typing ' journal prompt ideas' into google. The best one is 'can teach' which has loads of prompts in various categories; What is…….. What if……….What do you think……..How……I Wish………. and loads more

  5. I so LOVE this post…I might read it again and COPY your ideas!!!

    Your blog is such a blessing–I just told a swim team friend about your blog. I am not Mormon but my friend is and she has never read you–I know she will love it!!

    sandy toe

  6. I love your blog. I found you a few days ago through another blog…not sure which now…but I'm hooked now. My children are 10 mo and 2 and a half. You are teaching me a lot about being a better mom. More present, more thoughtful, more of what I want to be. I think I do a pretty good job on my own but your thoughts and actions with your children inspire me. So, thank you.

  7. Do you have the chart checklists and jar items saved to your computer. I would LOVE to use them (without taking the time to create them) I know SO lazy! But with a new baby it's so hard finding the time. Please email me if you wouldn't mind and I would love you forever (I already do though anyway, for sure my FAVORITE blog!)

  8. When I read about the extra jobs for not putting things away I said aloud, "Oh my goodness! I love you!" My kids all think I'm crazy for talking to the computer, but I really love your blog and all of your wonderful ideas (and your sister's too). Thanks so much for sharing and for not quitting even when life gets so hectic. You inspire a lot of people.

  9. Shawni, would you mind sharing a few of YOUR summer goals with your devoted readers?!? I need some motivation and inspiration to do some goals myself this summer. Thanks!

  10. We sat down yesterday to make our summer goals. I was amazed what the kids came up with as goals, on their own. I have four kids 17 to 7. Yesterday was a beautiful day in our home as I didn't have to nag, kids were begging to clean, read, and exercise. WOW! At the end of the week they will bring their charts to dad and I where we will negotiate a fair wage allowance based on what they did that week. Thanks for the great ideas.

  11. I was so excited to discover your blog and the Power of Moms website yesterday. I have loved and used your parent's books on parenting for years. While some of my children are already grown and out of the house, I still have young ones at home too, and am loving the energy and ideas you share. I'm feeling inspired! Thank you!

    I see some people have asked for your job and prompt lists – I would love those too if you are sharing! We are half way through summer now, and are ready for a 'reboot' on some of our goals and lists and things.

    Keep up the good work!

  12. Thanks for the inspiration! My oldest is 5 (with an almost 3 year old and 9 month old at home as well) and I showed her your girls and their goal lists. She got so excited to make one like Lucy's. She thought her artwork was pretty cool, too. Thanks again for the idea.

  13. I have instituted your ideas (job jar, journal prompt, daily must-do checklist) this week and it has been the BEST! Thank you as always for sharing your incredibly powerful tips.

    Question – what font (and kerning?) did you use for your job jar and journal idea topics? Thanks!

  14. DId you just sit down and figure out what prompts to write down for the kids? It seems like that would take a lot of time.

  15. Hi Shawni!

    I noticed CrossFit is one of Grace's goals and in your recent "family visits" post you mentioned having them do workouts with you, and I'm wondering…

    Do you have a CrossIt DVD that you all enjoy? Did you make up your own workout?

    I'm looking for fun ways to get more exercise with my munchkins, and I'd love to know more about your CrossFit routine.

    Thanks so much for your lovely, fun, sweet blog! I don't know you, but I adore your family 🙂


  16. I love your blog!! I've never commented before, but I just thought I'd say thank you for sharing a bit of your life on here. I have a 2 year old, so some of these posts don't apply to me yet, but I have a giant notebook FILLED with goals, notes, and ideas I've collected from your posts. I basically treat 71 Toes as my ultimate motherhood masterclass ;). I love how you can feel the spirit of family love and the Gospel in every post. I hope I can approach motherhood the way you have. I admire how much effort and love you put into helping your kids become the best versions of themselves. I think you are wonderful! xoxo

  17. I have a 5, 3 and 10 month old. Preschool has been out for 2 weeks and the older two definitely like a schedule. We are working on individual prayer, making the bed, and getting dressed before coming downstairs. We also talk about each day: the day of the week, the date, where daddy is (working or traveling or off for the weekend!) and what are plans are. It makes the world of difference in their lives. As they get older I know we will add to the list. Great ideas!

  18. I love love love this idea! We've been doing a few little things around here but nothing really concrete. Though I guess with a 4, 2, and soon-to-be-newborn, they may not understand all the concepts. But I bet we could make some adaptations for our little family. And I'm definitely going to remember this whole system for when my kiddos get a little older.

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