Parenting Tips to Survive Summer Vacation
And enjoy it too!
What began as subtle rumblings a few weeks ago have graduated to full-blown complainings: The kids are coming home! The kids are coming home!
Ten weeks with our kids at home. What are we going to do with them?
And I know exactly what you’re feeling … it’s not that you don’t love them, or even that you don’t want them home. It’s just that everything changes when they’re around all day. There’s more fighting, more dishes, more crap to pick up off the floor. And the worst one of all: more “I’m BORED.”
After fumbling through my first couple of summers after the kids started school, I’ve learned a few things which have made summers not only bearable, but downright enjoyable. These strategies take a tiny bit of time initially, but they are so worth it!
1. Create a schedule. Now, I am not an over-scheduler by nature, and I totally subscribe to the philosophy that summertime should be looser, with fewer rules, later bedtimes, and lots of fun. BUT, I have also come to realize that children spend 40 weeks a year with very strict schedules. They are told what to do and when to do it and have very little wiggle room. To be cut completely loose with no direction can be traumatic for some children. So, while I don’t recommend planning every minute of every day, I do think that adding some structure to your summer can be helpful. Maybe you decide to have lunch together every day at noon, or go to the library every Tuesday. One of my kids’ favorites is Sundae Sundays-they can’t wait for it (and it only happens in the summer!)
2. I’m Bored! Every year I inventory all of the activities in and around our house. I list games, toys, and I throw in a few chores just for fun. It takes a little time. Then, whenever I hear a child mutter those magical words, I pull out the “I’m Bored” list. The perpetrator is given three minutes (set the timer) and if they don’t choose something on the list, you choose for them, and they have to do it. I haven’t had to choose yet (and it’s been six years!)
3. Me, Me, ME! That’s right, it’s me time! Every day, every single day, allot a certain amount of time for yourself. Again, I strongly recommend setting the timer. Tell your children they are not allowed to bother you until the timer goes off unless someone is on fire, and if they do, the timer starts over. Start out in small increments if your children aren’t used to “ME Time.” Build up gradually until they’ll leave you alone for two or three days. Then kick up your feet and read a magazine, or wash your kitchen floor in peace, or make all those phone calls without hearing “MOM!” 8,000 times. It’ll work, I promise, but you’ve gotta be firm. And if you hear “I’m BORED!” see number two.
4. Learn something together. Now, I’m a teacher, so I know this comes more naturally to me than it might to others, but you don’t have to create an inter-disciplinary thematic unit. Just figure out something you and your kids are both interested in and jump in. Kids love it, and you probably will too. When my kids were younger, we studied dinosaurs one summer, and another summer we made an animal alphabet book, taking pictures at the zoo, cutting out of magazines, and finding cool stickers. Now we do Harry Potter, or Flat Stanley projects, and this summer we’re going to start geo-caching.
I know, I know! These things seem like a lot of work, but a little time investment now will pay off all summer long. Your kids will have fun. You’ll have fun. You’ll grow and learn and explore together. And when they go back to school in August, you’ll be the one saying, “I’m bored!”