School’s Out – What’s a Mother to Do?

childrenswingingLast week, my friend Kelly, from wrote in her blog post:
“You can probably relate to that bittersweet feeling that you get when summer is here.  It’s nice having the kids around more…  But yet the bickering and constant interruptions when I try to get work done can be tricky.  Do you have some good summer parenting strategies to share?

Here is my answer to Kelly, myself, and other moms who want to plan a productive, harmonious, memorable summer vacation:

Although, I think moms and kids look forward to school being out as they look forward to a more flexible schedule,  I quickly learned as a home school mom, that bored children without a schedule will start bickering and fighting and basically destroying the peace of the household if I allow it.

1.   I learned to  pray ahead of time and consult with my husband on some activities the children could look forward to (so could I such as camp, VBS, swim lessons, etc), plus I had a rule – no get-together’s with friends and neighbors in the mornings.

2.  I wasn’t rigid, but I found – the schedule would be shot if I didn’t do this.  Once neighbor kids come in – your kids forget about their responsibilities and think its all about them, and then the other kids get jealous and it de-generates from there.

3.  Generally speaking – each child needs some sort of schedule so they know what is expected of them and when.  Will they follow it perfectly?  Will you follow-up and check up on them perfectly ?   Well the answer is probably no, so we must be flexible.  But if we fail to plan we plan to fail.

A schedule – loosely put together is absolutely imperative that changes every half hour to hour, especially for younger children.

Time to get up and dress, time for breakfast, breakfast clean-up, morning chores – beds made, pick -up  (sweep/mop floors/vacuum) – laundry, dusting, etc.  Dinner prep.  Take a walk – out door activity – play with pets/j ride bikes, etc – listen to tapes, video time, game time/play time/ park time, skill time – work on projects such as sewing or woodworking.  These are just ideas I have.

One mom I know who lives in a hot climate has playtime before chores, because children do not like to get outside in the heat of the day.  When they come in, their responsibilities await them.

Older children are responsible for younger children to keep them on task.  Take a morning break with the children so they feel a connection with you.

5. In hot climates you might make outdoor play the first ativity, and all the chores and inside work for later in the morning during the hot part of the day.  I always require some quiet time in the afternoon whether they are nappers or not.

6.  Make sure kids know that if they start fighting/bickering/etc that they will be sent to their rooms and loose privileges for the rest of the day such as the computer – whatever works.

7.  Get an early start on your day.  I have a friend who gets up at 4:00 or 5:00 am and starts working.  She gets in about 3 hours before the family is up – wish I had tried that – napped with kids etc.

Anyway – a schedule, clear expectations and consequences is a must for getting started.

Please share with us what you do with your children during the summer to keep them on task!

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1 comment to School’s Out – What’s a Mother to Do?

  • Monique B.

    In the summer, we do what we call “Stations” ! I have five children (they are ages 8-14), so there are five stations, and each child goes to each station for 30 minutes in a rotation. We make a main list together of the stations and then each one is numbered with a yellow sticky note with that number on it. I change the stations as needed throughout the summer, but for example, here’s a rotation we have done this past week: Station 1 is educational games on the computer, Station 2 is a stack of Calvin and Hobbes books on the couch, Station 3 is watercolor painting at the kitchen table, Station 4 is walking on the treadmill (I let them watch Veggie Tales or Bugs Bunny cartoons, etc while walking), and Station 5 is doing your laundry/check your chore list/clean your room. There is a mix of fun, art, exercise, and work, but all the children can do all the stations independently. Then, before stations begin, I make a quick 2 minute chart on paper to remind everyone what order they are doing stations that day/time. So, the chart looks like this: — that is the time, the station number, and my children’s initials…
    1st line: 10:00am 1K 2B 3R 4N 5C
    2nd line: 10:30am 1C 2K 3B 4R 5N
    3rd line: 11:00am 1N 2C 3K 4B 5R
    4th line: 11:30am 1R 2N 3C 4K 5B
    5th line: 12 noon 1B 2R 3N 4C 5K
    They just keep rotating every half hour until they have all been around to all the stations! Works great, very simple, takes 2.5 hours to go through all of the stations, and the stations can change very easily (other ideas: art/playdough, puzzles, electronic games, “date” with Mom, read with or to Mom, make a snack and eat it, look through kids recipe books, read an assigned book, homeschool work ,,, endless possibilities! This gets us out of the sun during the hottest part of the day (a necessity here in Texas), keeps them active and busy with purpose, but fun, too, and I can make the stations completely independent if I need to accomplish something, or I can put myself into the stations and get 30 min of one-on-one time with each child, usually uninterrrupted. This has worked very well for us, and is adaptable to your family… I hope you’ll try it!! :-) MB

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