The kids are home. The school year has ended, it is WAY too early to think about the next school year, and summer spreads before us like a buffet of delectable treats. But did I mention that the kids are home?
This may not be as different as it’s been in the past, with many kids opting for virtual learning in the last year. But it is different in the sense that they are no longer in school, so what schedule they did follow has now disappeared. I know a lot of parents are worried about that, especially since lack of structure can sometimes lead to trouble, and if you are home with your kids, it can make for a long day.
I always enjoyed summertime with my kids, but the togetherness, the ability to see all that your kids are doing – or not doing – all day, can certainly dim the bright promise of summer. So below you will find 5 tips for keeping your sanity and enjoying your kids all summer long.
1. Have a plan. Talk to your kids upfront about how they plan to spend their days so that you can coordinate schedules and approve their agenda. If you don’t do this, you’ll be shocked when they sleep in until 1:00 pm and then settle down in front of the TV for a Netflix marathon. That’s okay occasionally, but kids need an incentive to rouse themselves off the couch.
2. Make sure they do something productive. Teenagers should have of some sort, even if they are young teens. They can always babysit, do yard work, or bag groceries. Summer is an excellent time to teach kids about the real world, educate them about handling finances, and expose them to all different kinds of people they won’t meet at school. A job gets them out of the house and gives them a sense of responsibility. If your kids are too young for jobs, make sure that for part of the summer, they have somewhere to go. It can be Grandma Camp, a summer camp experience, or daytime activities that expose them to new hobbies and interests.
3. But allow them to have a vacation. This is important. Kids really do work hard at school and oftentimes have a number of commitments that add stress. Just like us, they need a break. Giving them one helps them to rejuvenate and recharge so they’ll be ready to go when the new school year starts. Balance here is the key. Their summer should be a mixture of new experiences, spending time with different people, and relaxing. All three have benefits!
4. Don’t nag. Everyone hates nagging and it is quite counterproductive. A more effective way to talk to kids is to give them a heads up about your expectations. You might say, “Now that you’re home for the summer, I’ll need you to do some additional chores around the house. You have a choice of (insert where you need help here). What would you like to do?” Providing choice makes the expectation less of a chore and more of a contribution. Then display a Chore Chart or encourage your kids to use their phone calendar and set reminders of what needs to be done each day. That way, kids learn to get organized without needing constant reminders from Mom and Dad.
5. Enjoy your kids. They will be much more relaxed during these months and likely more open to family time than they are during the school year. When they’re not with their friends, catching up on their sleep, or working, be sure to seize the opportunity to spend time with them. Playing games, having a cookout, seeing a movie, or hanging at the pool are all low-key activities that will add to wonderful memories. While we wait for travel opportunities to open up, this is a perfect time to explore your local area and appreciate what you have right here. Spend an evening playing putt-putt golf and reward the winner with his or her choice of ice cream. It doesn’t have to be big – it just needs to be family time together.
Summer is short and before you know it, you’ll be sending the kids back to school. So make the most of the time you have!