Frazzle-Free Sure-Fire Solutions for Happy Summer Parenting

Are you relieved that the early morning rush to school, followed by the nightly homework struggle, is done for a while?

Yet in just a few short weeks, the kids will be filling their time with way too many hours of “screen time” (that’s TV, computer, games and all hand-held devices combined), and saying “I’m bored!” And so the new summer stress ensues!

So, to help you raise healthy, well-balanced children in both mind and body, here are five “Frazzle-Free Sure-Fire Solutions” for helping your kids continue to grow and mature over the summer months.

1. Set up a daily routine for success: KRs first!

Starting day one of vacation (or soon thereafter), establish a summer morning routine of KRs, that is, Key Responsibilities. List on the bathroom mirror what MUST be done every morning BEFORE any screen gets turned on. Go beyond the usual brush teeth, get dressed, make bed, eat breakfast, and house chores. Also add things like these:

  • Read or do summer workbooks for xx minutes
  • Practice musical instrument xx minutes
  • Be active for xx minutes

What? REQUIRE them to stimulate their brain and body in traditional ways BEFORE plugging into brain-numbing technology? Yes! Doing this not only gives them needed routine and successfully decreases the total number of screen hours in a day, but most importantly lets them “feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment” both physically and mentally, before the (often) mind-numbing engagement with the screen.

2. Healthful eating tip: Include a fruit and/or a vegetable at every meal and snack.

As soon as your kids are old enough to grab their own snacks, teach them to include a fruit or vegetable each time. Because, ask any kid, a granola bar and a box of crackers makes a fine snack. NOT! A granola bar and some carrots, or a granola bar and an apple makes a fine snack. In fact, adding the fruit or vegetable makes it so much easier to NOT eat the whole box of crackers. Funny how that is! And if you are including a fruit and/or vegetable every time you eat…guess what? You are automatically consuming the amount of fruit and vegetables that every health organization recommends! 5-13 a day!

3. Teach them to do chores cheerfully and reliably.

Post on the refrigerator a chore list that is expected daily of each child. Include thorough descriptions so they are done as complete as you wish. Establish weekly “allowance” and remember to pay it. Determine with your kids a reasonable deadline to get the chores done each day, and follow through with a consequence if they are not complete. Hint: banning screen time for 24 hours works like magic!

4. Teach them about working this summer.

How about nudging out boredom with opportunities for your kids to gain practice and confidence in becoming “employable?” The bonus is that you get some great work done around the house!

In addition to expected daily chores, also post a “jobs for hire” list. Yes, put those jobs on your wall that you would love to have done, along with how much you are willing to pay for it. (Of course, make them age appropriate, and post the age requirements for each.) Include how the job is to be done (like an official job description), with what kind of attitude, about how long it should take, and how much it will be paid. Include the requirement that payment will follow a passed “inspection.“ Don’t worry if kids don’t jump on the job right away. After a few weeks of “being off“ school, that novelty will wear off and ideas about what they can do with the added money are bound to take on new desire. Job ideas could include (if these aren’t already chores):

  • Washing, waxing and vacuuming cars
  • Washing windows
  • Organizing closets or drawers
  • Cleaning the refrigerator
  • Cleaning the garage
  • Sorting through old clothes or toys to give away
  • Listing things on EBay or Craig’s list to sell
  • Raking the lawn, or weeding the garden or flower bed
  • Manning a garage sale (teach them how to negotiate)
  • Cooking (Read the story in the Introduction of Lickety-Split Meals about how my Mom hired me to do all the cooking one summer when I was 16. I highly suggest this! And the recipes in Lickety-Split Meals are perfect for beginner cooks!)

5. Teach them about saving money this summer.

Financial advisors always say to teach kids the discipline of saving money the minute they start getting money. If your child is allowed to spend 100% of all they are given, they risk becoming young adults who do exactly that. Consider the policy of giving 10% to church or charity, depositing half of what’s left in the bank for a car (they’re so gonna want that when they turn 16!) or college, and putting the rest in their wallet to either spend now, or put toward something bigger that they really want. This teaches kids to be givers, savers and enjoyers of money, but all in a balanced way. These principles ingrained as a child last a lifetime!