7 Secrets to a Smooth Summer
by Lindsay Ayers
1- Routine: Build one. Most kids thrive with routine. Think about it, they’ve been in school all year with a routine and summer comes so now its a free-for-all. It doesn’t have to be super rigid routine. I just like to make enough of a routine that I can predict most of the day’s flow and keep everyone from wearing pajamas into the afternoon. Try to keep a basic part of the school year routine… up by a consistent and decent time, get dressed, meals at consistent times, keep bedtimes as regular as possible. Not only will you find comfort in the routine, the kids will be well adapted as well.
2- Responsibilities: No matter the age, give kids certain daily responsibilities. For example a three year old can get sunscreen and towels out for the trip to the pool or sort laundry. A five year old can make his bed (Perfection is the the objective. Teaching responsibility is.) or help unload a dishwasher. A seven year old can pack his own lunch and bag for camp, sports practice or a sleepover. Most any age can put away their laundry (don’t act like those drawers stay folded anyway), straighten up the mudroom shoe pile or put away toys and books. My favorite responsibility: If you want to bring it, you must be able to carry it. It becomes their responsibility to carry it. Sure, It’s delegation and chores, but package it as RESPONSIBILITY. Kids will feel accomplished, important and learn self sufficiency skills. And your day will go so much more smoothly. Don’t forget to praise those sweet kids! After all, they deserve it.
3- Rules: Give them a break, its been a while. I always give a refresher chat about how our house does things. Anything from helmets, sunscreen and holding hands in parking lots to respecting each other, our space and our things. Rules might sound fuddy-duddy but it will save time (Who wants to give the “because I said so speech daily?). “Here are the rules. We have rules to keep us safe and to help us have good days.” I always include kids in the rule making process. Ask them what they think needs a rule. You’ll be surprised at how many they come up with!
4- Limits: Set limits. For us, its “screens”. Anything with a screen gets a time limit: iPad, Wii, Leapster, TV… you name it. Otherwise we’d be doing that stuff all day, all summer. I set a timer for a reasonable time and let them go. Same with snacks. one healthy (string cheese) and one non-healthy (fruit snacks) snack between each meal. It saves grocery runs, cavities and dishes. Limits give kids free reign within boundaries.
5- Productivity: Summer is an opportunity to DO things. At the beginning of summer make a list of what everyone wants to do. You won’t get to everything this summer and thats ok. This list will keep you from spending 5 days in a row at the pool “Groundhog Day” style. Last summer we baked, made play dough, blew up Diet Coke with Mentos, visited the amusement park, geo-cached (Google it- Its a blast!), made wishes in countless fountains, played miniature golf, drove go-carts, went to outdoor concerts, hiked, made a scavenger hunt, played board games outside, fed giraffes at the zoo, built a fort… the list goes on. Boredom is the enemy.
6- Explore: Make sure to try new go to new parks, try a new restaurant, make new friends. Explore places you haven’t been to keep things fresh for everyone. Hikes, nature walks, Give each kid a bag and send them on scavenger hunts. You can do a scavenger hunt on vacation, inside on a rainy day or at a park.Tell kids to bring back something that starts with L, something that rolls, something that is red, something you can wear and so on. They will look at their surroundings in a new way. They will have explored and discovered!
7- Read: At our house we read 30 minutes daily. Even in summer. Its a great way for kids to unplug and escape the hustle of the day. After a hard day of play, swimming and soccer practice a good read is the perfect “chill” activity. Sometimes I do a story time with a stack of books chosen by the kids. Other times I have an older kid read a book to a younger kid before reading solo. However you can get them to read! We also have “reading spots”… the formal family room is the “quiet room” where reading is about all you can do. There are no screens or toys allowed. You may only whisper in this room. To my surprise, I’ve never heard a peep in this room and reading is really all that happens there.
So I’ve spilled my secrets for a smooth summer. I think they may save you a headache or two this summer.