As a child, I loved getting out of school for the summer: having fun with my friends, playing at the park, and just enjoying each day before school began again in August. As an adult, I can appreciate all of the hard work my children have done during the school year and they definitely deserve to enjoy their summer. While my husband and I do some things differently than how we grew up, I wanted to share some tips with all of the parents who seem to be at their wit’s end about having their children at home for the summer.
I have read more than one social media post and overheard more than one conversation about how parents’ kids are “eating them out of house and home” and they are more than ready for them to go back to school. While it may seem initially comical to hear, two words can take care of your concern about having the kids at home for the summer: FAMILY MANAGEMENT.
As a parent, you are your child’s first advocate. I have the privilege of having an educator and parental background, which means I know first-hand as a teacher what it takes to prepare a classroom for the week, month, or year for a large group of students—to sum it up, it takes lots of thoughtful and detailed planning. In addition, I have first-hand experience what it takes to take care of a home for a family of four—more thoughtful and detailed planning is just as important at home. One of the most important tasks you need to put into place as a parent in order to have consistency are BOUNDARIES and EXPECTATIONS for your kids—yes, even at home.
Plan each day so that your kids know what to expect. In my own household, I create a menu for the week and my children are given options as to what they can and cannot eat at certain times. For example, you can take time out to discuss with them if they want to participate in various summer camps or specialty programs. If you plan far enough in advance, there are many ways to involve your children for FREE by applying for scholarships that would pay for your child to participate in camps with the park district or other programs. As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm, so you miss out on opportunities if you procrastinate and wait until the last-minute.
Let’s assume your kids would prefer to stay home; this does not mean you have to let them do whatever they want to do! You can still create a schedule that consists of taking care of chores as well as other activities to occupy their mind besides eating. You may require your child to read for an hour and they can log their hours for the public library’s reading program and even PPS150’s Remarkable Readers program. Playing online math games can also help keep their minds sharp. Investing in a few art supplies and perusing Pinterest will have you maybe even enjoying a wide range of activities such as your own home paint night, making foam, cooking as a family, or spending time together accomplishing other summer challenges.
You don’t have to lose your mind as a parent just because your children are home for the summer. You just need a plan and the will to work together as a family to execute it.