What’s your idea of a good summer with the kids home from school?
Do you like everyone to get up early with kids heading off to swim team practice, going to summer school or getting work done first so they can play.
Or is your ideal summer day everyone sleeping in late and having lazy laid back days?
I think kids function better when there is structure. That does NOT mean you have to do it like me, your neighbor, your sister’s family or anyone else. But I do suggest everyone under the same roof have the same idea of what summer vacation from school will be like. It will make life better if kids know what mom would like to have happen and mom knows what the kids want to do.
So moms, ask your selves, “What do I expect the summer break to be like”?
After all, how can your kids know what you want them to do if you aren’t sure what you want?
When I was a young mom an experienced mom suggested that on Mother’s Day I should tell my family what I would like them to do to make my day enjoyable. She said if you have a lot of expectations in your mind and don’t tell anyone you’re setting yourself up for disappointed when no one does the things you want. She said, “Your family can’t read your mind”. Wow, that was insightful to me. I think it’s similar to summer vacation. We may be thinking it’s finally a time we can get some much needed projects done around the house while the kids might be thinking it’s time to watch TV and be on the computer all day. Since we can’t read each others minds we need to do some planning to keep our days from being filled with complaining, nagging, and ultimatums.
When my children were young they thought they didn’t want to have any responsibilities during the summer break from school. But I quickly learned they felt better about themselves and did not fight as much if they did some productive things each day.
Here are some things we did in our family during the summer:
For lots of summers we had a wooden chart with daily activities listed:
30 minutes of music
30 minutes exercise or a sport
15 minutes math
30 minutes reading
2 hours max. Computer/TV/video games
The board had columns for “to do” and “done” and the kids moved the pegs from one column to the other each day. A paper chart with stickers would work just as well.
I also wanted to make music a part of our summer. We didn’t take weekly music lessons in the summer. Instead we had a “piano jar”. I took some of the money I would usually spend on the lessons and bought items to fill the jar. I assigned each item a price in points. Anyone could earn 1 point for 1 minute practicing an instrument, or other musical activities such as musical flashcards. My daughter had a neighborhood friend who played the piano beautifully and she would sometimes come over just to play some songs, eat a candy bar then go home. I loved it; I got to hear beautiful piano music and I believe it helped motivate my kids to practice more so they could play so well.
Our piano jar was an old pickle jar.
Below is a copy of one of our piano points chart.
Some other ideas that were successful in our home were:
Allowing my kids to earn more TV or computer time by reading – one minute of TV for every minute of reading. Double points could be earned if they read to someone younger.
We went to the library each week
We did field trip Fridays. We’d go to a museum, to a splash area at a park, a community event we had seen advertised, etc.
We watch old movies or musicals on Wednesday afternoons; The unsinkable Molly Brown, My Fair Lady, and old versions of shows like Absent Minded Professor, Love Bug, Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, etc.
There are certainly no shortages of sites on the Internet to give you ideas. Here are a few suggestions:
101 things to do
Kids Summer To Do List
25 Cool Places For Kids
100 Things to do With Kids This Summer
When school gets out make a Family Summer Calendar (ours was pages from a big desk calendar, decorated and hung on the store room door) and fill it up with big and small activities for your kids to look forward to. Even something as simple as making popsicles in the morning, and eating them in the afternoon could be written in for a day’s activity to look forward to.
Enjoy having your kids home this summer. Plan, discuss, involve the whole family, and write down your plan. This summer make pleasant memories rather than just trying to survive.