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Six Summer Sanity Strategies for Parents

This is it. That time of year when it hits you – summer’s in full swing and there’s no school reprieve. Let the “what do we do NOW” chants begin.

There is hope, however, for getting through the “dog days” of summer without losing your marbles, your patience or your temper. Let’s take a look at some fun strategies to help you keep your cool and make some terrific memories with your kids this season.

1. Set Summer Bedtimes. What? The first thing kids want to do is stay up late, right? I know, but regular bedtime scheduling is one of the best things you can do for your sake and theirs. Why is this important? Kids thrive on routine and that fact doesn’t go out the window when the weather’s warm. Lack of sleep is a recipe for cranky kids, and that’s no way to spend your summer. Pack the days full of fun, then get them into bed on time. When you do, you’ll have happier kids and more energy for everyone to tackle each day.

2. Brainstorm Anti-Boredom Ideas. Few things can make a parent’s head spin like their kids saying, “I’m bored” on a repetitive loop. While defaulting to TV or technology is an easy way out, it’s not really a memory maker for the books, right? Make boredom brainstorming a regular event. Get everyone in on the mix, and write down every idea, even the craziest ones. Make it a contest to see who can come up with the best things to do for the week. Head online to family-friendly blogs or Pinterest to find budget-friendly family fun ideas and create a bucket list that you and your kids can start checking off this summer. It will make for an awesome recap as school starts in the fall to see how many of the ideas you put into action.

3. Spend One-on-One Time.“I’m bored” is often kid-speak for “I really want to spend time with you.”  All-in family time is fun and important for family bonding – but kids also need one-on-one time with you on a daily basis. It fills their attention buckets in positive ways and meets their need for emotional connection. Even 10-15 minutes a day of one-on-one time with each of your kids will go a long way to a smoother sailing summer. (Think more cooperation, less complaining and sibling harmony!) During your one-on-one time – let kids pick out what they want to do with you and make it a priority. If that means that the house is a bit more disorganized or the dishes have to wait, so be it. This small investment in time will reap big rewards in emotional connection and better behavior.

4. Take a tech-break. Be as clear about technology time in the summer as you are during the school year. It’s tough to tear kids away from screen time, I know, but summertime is a great time to give those texting thumbs and screen-scrolling eyes a break and focus on family-first activities. Have some old school fun with board games and cards, or get out into nature and enjoy the great outdoors with activities like swimming, fishing, hiking, gardening, mini golf or sports. Use up as many of those brainstorming bucket list ideas as possible!

5. Everyone helps. All kids should be expected to take part in Family Contributions (a better term than chores) during the summer and all year long. Being a contributor reminds kids that they are part of the big picture in how a family works. Even little ones can take a role. I love to use the When-Then tool when getting kids to pitch in. For example, when your family contributions are complete, then you can enjoy your 30 minutes of technology time. No exceptions on this one or you’ll be negotiating it all summer long!

PRO TIP: If kids complain of being bored, have a jar filled with Family Contributions (chores) they can pick from to ease their boredom.

6. Commit to service work. One wonderful way to help steer clear of kid entitlement issues is to get them out of their comfort zones and into the service of others. Get together as a family and talk about what kind of community service or charity work you can do as a family this summer and then make a plan to make it happen. Make it a goal to do one activity per week for the rest of the summer that includes service – helping a local food bank, doing household jobs or yard work for an elderly neighbor.  Or perhaps, volunteer at a retirement home or children’s hospital. Or, join a local beach or park cleanup effort. There are a lot of ways that kids can give back, and summertime is the perfect time to fit some of that service work in.

While it may seem like a long couple months of constant kid time ahead, it will be over in a blink. Start making memories today by putting together a family plan to make every moment count this summer. Even if some of those moments are as simple as popcorn in a blanket fort, playing a round of dominoes or spending quality coloring time. Enjoy every minute of it.

For more strategies to get kids cooperating more and complaining less, join our FREE WEBINAR:   Get Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling.

About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.
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