The truth is, the beginning of summer always rattles me a bit. Although some find it liberating and a fantastic change of pace, I find it to be more like fingernails on a chalkboard to my nerves for a couple of days. Suddenly, the population in my house quadruples, and I’m surrounded by more commotion and noise than my coffee can support. The kids are immediately bored, and I feel overwhelmed. The change in routine brings a new wave of bickering, pestering, and fussing among my four sons when they all lived at home.
Eventually, the chaos subsides and we all settle into something great – a summer of togetherness and relationship building. Over the years, I’ve learned how to alleviate the “summer shock syndrome” and transition from “school routine” to “summer fun” with ease. Here are three keys for a successful summer kick-off.
1. Set expectations and maintain order. Kids like routine. They’ve been used to the same routine for the last nine months, so it’s normal for the first few days of summer to feel a little “off.” Before summer break begins (now is a good time), hold a family meeting with your kids and talk about your expectations for the next 12 weeks. Do you expect them to do chores each day? Will they be required to get up at a certain time? Can they stay up later? How much screen time will they be allowed to have each day? What about hanging out with friends? Clear boundaries give kids a sense of stability and help minimize chaos and stress. Summer may be a more relaxed season, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be orderly.
2. Make a list and plan for fun. In our family, we get a big piece of paper and make a list of all the activities we’d like to do over the summer. The list ranges from easy to nearly impossible, but it’s fun to see how many items we can cross off before the first day of a new school year. What could you put on your list? How about some of these: go to the zoo, set up a lemonade stand, build a fort out of cardboard boxes, bake cookies for a neighbor, visit a museum, learn sign language, write a song, read a biography, or try a new restaurant. Be creative and let your kids help with the list. At the end of summer, reflect on all that you accomplished.
3. Schedule rest and connect time. If you’re a mom of young children, you understand the value of rest time. What about the older kids? They need down time too. Often, we train our children to be busy and overloaded. This summer, designate at least one evening each week when everyone is required to be home—with no electronics, no phone, and no friends. Then do something together. Watch a fun movie, cook dinner as a team, read a story, or just hang out talking to each other. We don’t always have to be running from one activity to the next. Slow down and enjoy the people in your house. When we model for our children the proper way to enjoy times of rest, we help them develop healthy habits for adulthood.
Whether you’re a working mother or a stay-at-home mom, you can enjoy a wonderful summer break with your children by preparing for it now. Set expectations and share them with your family, make a fun list of things to do work toward completion, and don’t forget to take time out and enjoy some peace and quiet without electronic entertainment. Slide into summer with joy!
About Kim Heinecke
Kim Heinecke wants to live in a world where children listen to the advice of their mothers without question. As a former single mom she’s been encouraging women using her life experiences in parenting, growing in the Word of God and everything in between. When she’s not negotiating with a teenager or wrestling a pre-schooler, you can find her camping in the family RV or pretending to understand sports with her husband and four sons. Read more from Kim at www.TheMomExperiment.com.