How do you feel about the Summer?
Excited that perhaps the pace is slower, you have a family holiday booked and there will be lots of happy memories made.
Perhaps worried that the pace is slower, you have a family holiday booked and there will be lots of juggling of childcare and the expense, don’t get me started on that one.
For me the best Summer’s come when there has been a bit of forward planning, when I switch my attitude to more of a ‘go with the flow’ style and I focus on memory making and connection rather than big grand gestures.
Here are my 3 top tips to get through the Summer better than you went in!
Tip 1 – Summer Planning – Family Meeting
Success really is in the planning. I am not talking planning to the tiniest detail where there is no room for spontaneity or responding to something unexpected that has cropped up. I am referring to having a loose plan, a way forward, where everyone has had a say and you make a plan together.
A Family Meeting is a great way to do this. Schedule a meeting time in the next few weeks for you to share ideas of what everyone wants to do, what is already in the diary and if there are any expectations for the family to chip in and help out now that they are not at school for 7 hours a day.
It might be within this meeting that you create a list of all the things you may wish to do over the Summer, allowing you to add to it and cross items off as they are done as the Summer progresses. It gives your Summer more of a purpose and perhaps everything does not need to fall on your shoulders to organise. Each week you could come together as a family and decide what things from the list you are going to do that week. The list should include low cost, no cost items such as picnics, walks and board games.
Tip 2 – Family Rules for the Summer
How do you feel about household rules? Mission statements? Non-negotitables? For me regardless of the title it is more of an agreement, a discussion between everyone to agree a way forward. It is best to do this in advance so there is already a pre-agreed set of non-negotiables for you and your kids so that when misunderstandings arise, as we know they will and when our kids are pushing our boundaries everyone already knows where they stand.
Things you may wish to think about, discuss and decide in advance could be:
- TV, phones, gaming consoles, computer use
- Chores, how is everyone going to help out? Is it going to be on a rotation or will everyone take on specific jobs? If this is a foreign concept to your household, it is now time to change this!
- Cooking – weekly menus, who is going to cook what, will you teach your children to cook a meal? Who will clean up?
- Homework – do your kids have Summer homework to get through or do you have some educational/academic material you want them to work through? Are they going to do it on a particular day each week or is it better to do 20 minutes a day?
- Reading – Will you have a family reading time? Are you going to keep track of the books they have read in some way, perhaps by setting up a reading paper chain and each time they read a book, an agreed number of pages etc, they get to add a chain on by the end of the Summer it will be a lovely way for them to reflect back on their achievements.
- Are there going to be expectations around their bedrooms? Beds made? Toys put away?
- Sibling fighting, what will you tolerate and what is going to end up with a consequence?
- Bedtimes, are your kids allowed to stay up later over the Summer months?
- Add anything else you like to the list that resonates for your family
Top Tips 3 – Consistency
Summer is a great time for rules and routines to fly out of the window as everyone is in a more relaxed mindset and if this works for your house hold, no problem at all.
In most households a little bit of routine and consistency goes a long way. How will you bring more consistency to your family this Summer?
What ever we focus on in our parenting grows, so if you consistently notice your kids being naughty, answering back, fighting and you comment, shout and tell them off, like it or not it will continue to be part of what is seen. If you focus on praising your kids, noticing when they are playing calmly, being nice to their brother or eating with a knife and fork rather than their fingers and you comment on this, you guessed it you will see more reasons to notice them for the right reasons. Your kids will respond and want to be in theory noticed for the positive and stress levels go down.
If you give a threat, follow through on it as your kids will see through you if you don’t they will know that they can get away with things. Be consistent.
Praise your kids, not just for the end product but for the process. Be consistent.
If you decide on Summer Rules, as mentioned above. Be consistent.
If you decide you will have a weekly family meeting to discuss the week ahead, do it. Be consistent.
I think you get the idea!
I can’t guarantee that all of the above will lead you to have the best summer ever, what I do know is that if you hear your kids voices in a Family Meeting, decide before you have to punish, scold or shout some rules and if your are consistent you will have a much calmer, purposeful and happier Summer.