Part of this is simply that our kids are popular with their peers. They're basically decent kids and since the older two are fairly responsible about things like not-playing-in-traffic, they spend a lot of time outside (weather permitting) with the rest of the neighborhood.
But I'm not stupid; I know the attraction is more visceral than that. It's primarily two-fold:
- We give out Otter Pops. This is self-explanatory, although some of the kids have not yet quite grasped that we only give them out a) when they are with one of my kids (we don't just give them out to random children dropping by unless they intend to play/help clean up) and b) between lunch time and dinner time (we don't provide them in the morning or after our kids are in for the night - usually after dinner).
- We keep a Treasure Box. I've explained this before in passing, but basically, rather than a specific allowance or pay-for-chores, our kids are expected to do some things just because they're part of a family - clearing the table, basic tidying, the bigger kids putting their own clean clothes away. But some things - like cleaning their room to adult standards or sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor or watching Lizzy while I'm in the shower - net them a Treasure Box Pick. When their friends help, they get a pick too. The Treasure Box is filled with stuff from the dollar store mostly, or the Target Dollar Spot - stickers, bandannas, decks of cards, temporary tattoos, those gel hands that stick to the wall and "crawl" down, jump ropes, Nerf balls, Frisbees, bubbles, etc.
The kids' usual partner in Treasure Box Crime is Kiki, who has been a frequent guest star on this blog. But all the neighbor kids within a certain age range - maybe six to eleven - get into it at some point. Abby and a seven year old friend of hers just finished cleaning her room, and then went out to play. He's staying for lunch and they both think this is super cool. Lizzy earned a pick helping me sort laundry. I'm job-hunting and doing my online school work and supervising the kids and cleaning up from the Garage of Doom.
This is what the Last Week of Summer Break should be.