This is it, the time of year when the shift from school schedules to summer fun begins!
While the first weeks of summer break are fun, we know this “honeymoon phase” won’t last. Soon enough cries of, ‘I’m bored” will be ringing in your ears. “How do we make it through the summer without losing my sanity?” Well, while I can’t exactly help with all of the issues in this one blog, I will give you a few tips to get your summer started smoothly. Hopefully by setting the foundation early you’ll be able to avoid some of the typical summer break stresses. 1. Get clear on your expectations
Most kids are thrilled with the break from school work, schedules and early bedtimes. As parents, you may also be happy for the lack of daily drop-off, pick-up routines and nagging about homework. Of course, you have things you want to get done. Ask yourself, “What am I envisioning for this summer?” Are you…
Anticipating the kids will be doing more chores to help around the house?
Planning projects (like sorting through school folders sitting in a pile)?
Setting up family activities or just letting the summer unfold as it will?
If you have things in mind you want to accomplish, it’s good to make a list so you can share those goals with the family. Being clear on your goals for the summer will be helpful for getting everyone on the same page. 2. Remember that the kids have goals too!
Being released from the routine of school, homework, projects, etc is a fun time for kids. They may be looking forward to long days at the pool with friends, doing activities or camps, or just relaxing and not having anything to do. Their last 8 months have been scheduled for them, this is their time to play! Yes, I know, you want them to do things too...I’m getting to that, I promise! Lol
3. Have a family meeting
This first session will serve as a time for discovery. A great question to start this discussion is something as simple as, “What are you looking forward to the most this summer?” then LISTEN! Your kids may surprise you with things you didn’t anticipate, like working on a project they’ve been planning or learning something new. (My techie kid used his summers to teach himself new coding languages, which is now serving him well for college and as an independent contractor for small projects for companies. His friends worked on building skateboards and making a few extra bucks cutting lawns.) Keys to Successful Family Meetings: 1. Keep it casual
2. Ask your kids for input
3. Listen to learn, not to lecture!
4. Discuss goals, projects, etc in specific details (i.e., We need to get the deck painted before our July 4th party). 5. Ask for ideas on how to get things done, who is willing to pitch in, which things will be required family projects (like the example in #4), and time lines for each project
6. Ask for commitments and offer them too! This isn’t just about you assigning work to the kids. They may want to go to the pool with their friends 3 times a week, so work with them to brainstorm options for that goal to be reached. You may offer to drive them to the pool if another friend’s mom can pick them up on specific days.
4. Teach responsibility through the summer, then reward it Kids can definitely pick up extra household chores during the summer. When kids help with household chores, parents get more free time to do fun things with them. It’s a win-win for everyone. Set your family up for success by phrasing things in “When/Then” statements. This puts the ball in their court and makes them responsible for the outcome. Life lesson: You choose the behavior, you choose the outcome. For example, if your son wants a ride to his friend’s house, tell him you’ll be happy to take him “when you’re done loading the dishwasher.” Your daughter's trip to the mall with her friends might be contingent on her folding and putting away her laundry. “When that’s done, then you can go.”
This is a bit of a give and take so your kids don't look at you as their personal taxi all summer and it also gives them some responsibility (a good lesson for adulthood).
5. Make time for family fun!
Summer is a time for everyone to relax and unwind. Getting outside for hikes, walks, bike rides, or days at the pool as a family makes for great bonding time. Allow the kids plenty of down time with friends as well, they’ll appreciate that you’re taking their desires into consideration.
Taking time away for some fun also does parents a lot of good! We all need a break from the mundane routines of work and household chores. A little off time will help you "recharge your battery" as you also bond with the kids. Don't miss upcoming tips and strategies! Click here to start getting them delivered to your inbox today! If you have parenting concerns or questions, I'm here to help! Click here to book a complementary 30-min discovery call. (No pushy sales pitch, I promise!). Photo by Yulianto Poitier from Pexels