Episode 066: SIX Tips to Help You Survive Summer Break

This whole month we get to talk about behaviors that drive us nuts.  It was hard to pick just four.

We get to start out with our kids driving us crazy  during the summer. If you’ve ever felt like your kids want you to entertain them all summer, then you’ll want to check out this episode.  Laura Tesch, mom of six and Child & Family studies major, teaches us SIX tips for surviving your child’s summer break! These tips have already helped us a ton at our house.

Happy learning!

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Laura Tesch

 

I want to make it clear, that a perfect summer isn’t really attainable.  It’s better just to try to find ways to have this summer be better than the last and shoot for the same goal next summer.

But keep your expectations at the right level so you’re less likely to be disappointed.

Tip #1 Provide some structure

Research shows that kids do a lot better in an environment with structure.  Kids need to know what will be happening each day and what times during the day things will be happening.

THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU NEED TO SCHEDULE EVERY MINUTE OF THE SUMMER.

In fact, I suggest not scheduling every minute.  Our kids have a really rigorous schedule during the school year and it’s nice for them to get to slow down during the summer.

Rather, I am suggesting that you decide which things need to be done each day and when they need to be done by.  

For example:

You could have a morning routine.

  1. Wake up
  2. Eat breakfast
  3. Get dressed
  4. Get dressed
  5. Make bed
  6. Do one chore
  7. Read for thirty minutes
  8. Math for ten minutes
  9. Outside/creative time before any electronics

You could also have an evening routine.

  1. Friends leave by 8:00 pm
  2. Shower
  3. Read
  4. Bedtime

You get to decide which structure and routine works best for your kids and family.  I personally like to have the mornings pretty structured and the afternoons pretty flexible.  But you know your family and what will work for them.

Just make sure to find some structure for each day.  It will help your kids feel more at ease and behave better.

Tip #2 Read, read, read

There is SO much research on the positive effects of reading for a child that it MUST be included in each day.

Here are some of the positive effects of reading:

  1. Reading develops language skills
  2. Reading is exercise for your child’s brain
  3. Reading enhances your child’s ability to concentrate
  4. Reading make your kids thirsty for more knowledge
  5. Reading a variety of books can expose your kids to broader horizons
  6. Reading develops a child’s imagination and creativity
  7. Reading helps develop empathy
  8. Reading with a child helps create a positive bond
  9. Readers perform better in school
  10. And so much more!

I like to have my kids read for one hour each day.  I don’t mind if they break the reading up into smaller chunks.  I also encourage my older children to read to my younger children.

I just think that reading is so beneficial, that we really make it a priority.

What about kids who don’t like to read?

I have one son that genuinely does not enjoy reading.  He’s tried a lot of different kinds of books, but still hasn’t found anything he enjoys.

However, he does enjoy AUDIO BOOKS.  Audio books are my son’s go to. He can listen while he does something with his hands or he can follow along in a printed version of the story.  Either way, he stills gets to enjoy a lot of the benefits of reading without having to do something he really doesn’t like.

Tip #3 Create a “Boredom Buster” jar

First, research has shown that it is GOOD to be bored.  Boredom allows the brain to relax and is also the catalyst for creativity.  Allow your kids to be bored sometimes, but have a plan in place so that their boredom does not become your problem.

I do have to be honest that “I’m bored” is a phrase that really pushes my buttons!  I don’t like my kids to use it and I used to feel like I had to provide constant entertainment so that I didn’t have to hear them say it.  However, I have since changed my thinking and want to share with you what I’ve learned.

Your child’s boredom is not YOUR responsibility, it’s THEIR responsibility.

If you take ownership of your child’s entertainment, you are robbing them of the opportunity to practice being responsible for themselves.  Learning how to deal with their boredom, helps them use critical problem solving skills, learn time management, and learn that their happiness is in their control.

Create a boredom buster jar/list/chart

At the beginning of each summer, I like to sit my kids down and have each of them create a list of things that they enjoy doing.  I encourage them to write a list of things they can do around the home that they enjoy.

The list is different for each child.

With younger children, I help do the writing for them.

We then take this list and post it or we cut each activity out and put it in a jar.

Have your kids add to the list/jar as they have more ideas come to them.

When they say “I’m bored”, give them two choices

I also like to create a list of chores I would like done during the summer.  Then when my kids say “I’m bored”, they get two choices:

  1. Solve their own boredom by choosing something off their “Boredom Buster” jar OR
  2. I solve their boredom by giving them a chore from my “I’m Bored Chores” list

I have done this several summers now and it works!  Just be consistent and stick to your guns. Pretty soon, your kids will learn that it’s better to entertain themselves than to tell you they are bored.

Tip #4 Limit technology time

I have to make it clear that I LOVE “screen time” for my kids and I allow my kids to have screen time pretty much everyday.  We will take a break from time to time, but for the most part, my kids each get one hour a day.

Limiting screen time can be challenging, but it also helps our kids develop creativity.  If they don’t have a screen to entertain them, they have to think of something else to do.  This can often lead to them doing art, reading, making up games, playing with friends and more.

We also encourage our kids to be outdoors as much as possible.  The fresh air, sunshine, and adventures had in the out of doors is so good for our kids.

Tip #5 Schedule new activities to do together as a family

I’m going to stress a couple of things in this tip:

First, it is important to schedule some family time with your kids.  Time where they have your full attention. We often suggest that you find time not only to be together as a whole family, but to also have one-on-one time with each child.  Research shows that kids do a lot better when they feel connected to their families and connected to their parents. You are most likely going to need to put family time and one-on-one time on YOUR calendar, or it’s not going to happen.  We all get busy very quickly and family time can be one of the first things we give up.

Schedule family time and protect it.

Next, research also shows that new activities stand out in the memory more than repeated activities.  This is helpful because you want to create memories with your kids that will stand out in the minds. If you do something new with your kids, they are more likely to remember that experience.  You want your kids to have as many happy family memories stand out as possible.

Third, you DO NOT have to spend a ton of money on family activities!  In fact, I go to Pinterest and look for “Summer Bucket Lists”. From those lists we pick which activities we are most interested in as a family and put those on the calendar.  Some of the activities cost a little bit of money, but most don’t.

Some of our favorite family activities are:

  1. Going for a hike
  2. Picnics
  3. Making and flying kites
  4. Free concerts
  5. Swimming
  6. Doing dinner backwards (dessert first then main course)

Be creative and have fun with this tip!

Tip #6 Take care of yourself

This is a tough tip, especially for moms.  But if you are a mess, tired, and irritable it will affect your entire family.  It really stinks that the mood of the home is often set by the parents, but it is reality.

You can’t set the mood well and be happy, unless you MAKE time to take care of yourself.  I say make time because time will not just open up for you. You will have to fight for it and not feel guilty about it.  It has taken me YEARS to finally get to a point where I give myself permission to go to the gym by myself, get my haircut regularly, eat lunch with my friends, and take care of my needs.  I wish I would have started a lot earlier because I am such a better mom now.

You genuinely become a better parent when you make the time to care for yourself.

Bonus Tip

If you have kids that continuously fight, you might want to have a family meeting to discuss how to find a solution to that problem.  

As a family, did this and ended up creating a couple of family rules one of which is “People are not for hurting”.  This includes physically, emotionally, or verbally. We have consequences for when this family rule is broken.

Now if siblings are not getting along and it gets out of hand, they get a consequence for that choice.  This has helped decrease the number of sibling squabbles we see in our home.

To learn more tips on helping siblings get along check out these other posts:

Solving Sibling Squabbles

Ways to Help Your Kids Become Friends for Life

Final Thoughts

Summer break will never be perfect but it doesn’t have to be horrible either.  Use the tips above and any others you can think of to plan ahead and make summer great.

Happy Parenting!

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