School is just a few weeks away from ending, and even though we are READY for a break from homework and routine, summer time doesn’t come without its own organizing challenges. In a recent conversation on social media with my followers, I asked, “What stresses you out most about summer?” Here’s what they said:
- Kids getting bored
- Kids fighting
- No routine
- No time to themselves
- Lots of dishes and clutter
- And the big one…how to keep kids off the technology.
If you find yourself facing the same issues each summer, read on to learn a few simple tricks to help you create a summer that is both relaxing and productive…
(PS – If you want more tips, check out my wildly popular post Summer Survival Guide for Moms. You’ll find 20 additional tips that are practical and fun – and can help make this summer your best one yet. And while you’re at it, don’t miss out on my Top Ten Tips for an Organized Life. These year-round strategies are simple, free and effective, and are the foundation of an organized life.)
Tip #1: Adjust Your Expectations
One of the biggest problems I see with my clients is expectations that don’t scale from season to season. They somehow hope that they can have the same clean, organized, productive lifestyle all year long.
We need to adjust that kind of thinking PRONTO!
Summer is a family season, and we can’t measure our success in the same way as in other months. I try to look at summer as less about trying to keep the house clean and more about a unique pocket of time I can invest in my kids. At the end of a summer day, when the house isn’t spotless but I have shared a popsicle with my first grader or stayed up late talking with my teenager, I rate the day as a success. In the years to come, these will be important moments for our family, and summer is the perfect opportunity to slow down and let them happen. We can get back on track with productivity and order when the school year starts back up.
Tip #2: Set Summer Goals
Did I just say to worry about productivity in the fall? Let me clarify. Worry about your own productivity in the fall, but leverage these endless hours when kids have little to do. Summer is the perfect time to invest in your kids’ personal growth and development. ‘Tis the season for them to work on talents, hobbies, interests and goals that they are usually too busy for.
For example, one summer my creative and crafty 13-year old daughter, who was too young to get a job, needed some structure for her summer. I reached out to friends and family who are experts in makeup, cake decorating and home décor. She spent afternoons with them all summer, developing some serious skills and building strong, healthy relationships with adult mentors.
Other ideas are to work on scout merit badges, babysitting courses, sewing or cooking skills, help them start a business if they are young entrepreneurs, try new sports, or even setting goals as a family to spend time outdoors, visiting certain landmarks or attractions, reading a certain number or series of books, planning regular service projects – you know, all that good stuff that takes a backseat to homework and soccer practice during the school year. And if you have a teenager, it’s totally worth the headache in May to help them find a job for the summer.
Success Tip: Get the kids involved on this one. Experience has taught me that it’s a too much of a fight to get them to work on things they aren’t interested in. Much better if they choose to spend their time doing things they want to do.
Tip #3: Technology for B.O.R.E.D. Kids
I would love to talk routines, power hour, cleaning and organizing strategies for summer. (If you’re looking for these solutions, remember to check out the Summer Survival Guide.) But let’s not dance around the biggest concern; how do we keep kids off the screens all summer?
First of all, see Tip #2 above. One reason kids turn to technology is because they are bored. Presenting opportunities targeted to pique their interest will help keep them from slumping into the mindset that there isn’t anything else to do.
Finally, help kids develop some personal accountability and self-moderation by teaching them why they get bored in the first place. When we are lacking balance physically, mentally, emotionally or socially, it doesn’t feel good. Kids don’t like that feeling and because they don’t know how else to describe it, guess what they say? “I’m bored.”
Here is a fun acronym to help them learn how to address “boredom” in a healthy way:
This would be great to hang on the fridge to serve as a quiet guide for the kids. CLICK HERE to print.
Maybe you’ll decide to give technology as an option once they have created some balance in their day.
Summer is a welcome relief to a rigorous academic schedule, and can really serve as a catalyst for personal and family growth. It’s nothing to fear if we can adjust our mindset and take simple steps to design it to be a three-month hiatus from the normal pressures of life. So go ahead, take a family hike or read your favorite book series. You finally have the time!