After a long and harsh Winter (and Spring), those sunny days and warmer temperatures are finally upon us. But as much as I've told myself to lose the stress of season's past and embrace the less-structured nature of the next few months, I know that all those additional hours I'll be spending with my kids also means I'll be dealing with a lot more meltdowns, annoying requests, and general rowdiness. My solution: impose a set of Summer rules that will help my kids stay productive and help me stay sane. While limited screen time is definitely on the list, it's not the only activity or behavior that needs governing this Summer. Here are the eight rules I'm imposing on my kids this Summer and saying a prayer that they actually follow.
- Work on self-sufficiency. Summer means we no longer have to be up and out the door before 8 a.m., which also has me hoping I can stop with the constant "brush your teeth" and "put on your shoes" requests. Instead, I'm making a chart of morning activities my kids need to do on their own (get dressed, brush teeth and hair, put pajamas in laundry, clean up bedroom). The same goes for getting healthy snacks on their own and putting their dishes in the sink. Giving them more independence will excite them and hopefully let me relax a little more.
- Use your brain every day. For my 7-year-old, that means reading independently and logging into her school's online Summer math program. For my son, it means reading with me. And for both of them, it means doing creative art projects, tackling puzzles, and using their imaginations to play together and with friends (the more outside, the better).
- Screen time is not all the time. While I believe that kids deserve some downtime in the Summer to chill out and watch movies or play games, on pretty days, no one should be glued to a screen.
- "I'm bored" is off limits. I don't want to hear it. My kids have an arsenal of toys and games, a library of books, and a brain in their heads. They are more than capable of using all of them.
- Be kind to one another. I do not want to become a referee, be forced to separate two kids on the verge of a death match, or make friends with anyone at our local ER, so my kids are required to treat each other and others with respect and kindness.
- Mom is not the maid. Summer means that my kids will be at home a lot more, and that means a lot more messes, all made by tiny hands who are just as capable of cleaning up those messes as I am. Clean up one project before you move on to the next is the often-ignored rule in my house, but this season, I'm laying down the law.
- Get outside. We live in the Midwest, which means we're basically stuck inside from mid-November until mid-April. Now's the time to use that fancy playset in our backyard, ride your bikes and scooters, and head to the pool and park.
- Sleep past 6:30 a.m. I basically have to beg my daughter to get up every morning for school at 6:30 a.m., but somehow, once school's out, she's ready to go before the sun rises. This year, the rule is you don't get up earlier during the Summer than you do during the rest of the year, and even if you are up early, it doesn't mean that I have to be. You know where the cereal is.