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Summertime: Easy Living?

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8 May, 2010

In just a few short weeks, kids across the country will throw open the doors to their classrooms and walk out of school for the last time and into – (insert screams of delight from thousands of school kids here) summer vacation (more screams of delight).

  • Later bedtimes and lazy mornings
  • A slower pace and time to “chill
  • More spontaneity and less structure
  • Endless possibilities and oodles of time to explore
  • Forts and food fights, pool time and sunburns, crafts and bug collecting, sleep overs and camp outs
  • Time with friends and more time with friends
  • A family vacation or two or maybe even three

Sounds delicious doesn’t it?

I agree. So I was surprised to hear, over a cup of tea with a few close friends (who shall remain anonymous) what summer vacation means on the other side of the fence.

  • Bedtime battles and stalled out mornings
  • Late, late and more late – to everything
  • Too many choices and too much negotiating
  • No chores, no contributions, chaos and fighting
  • Bad food, late bedtimes, cranky kids, dirty clothes, emergency room visits
  • No time for adult “stuff” until it’s too late to enjoy adult “stuff”
  • OMG – ANOTHER bad family vacation followed by another one and maybe even another one

After we shared a few giggles, we started to talk seriously about the upcoming summer season. We realized that we were painting the worst case scenario – a scenario that none of these savvy moms would ever experience. This particular group of moms has worked hard at this parenting thing (and I have been lucky enough to watch from the sidelines as they continue to develop wonderful relationships with their kids), so the summer will indeed provide opportunities for fun, family and friends.

But for many other moms and dads out there, what could be a season of delight and memory making – will most likely be a season of stress, frustration and a countdown to September.

So here are a few tips on how to make this summer a season full of delightful memories.

  • Write down your expectations for summer and have your kids do the same thing. Do it individually so that no one is influenced by anyone else.

  • Exchange lists without commenting. This is a chance for everyone to see another perspective. This is important.
  • Together, talk about setting realistic expectations that can be met by everyone in the family.

  • Here is an example:

    Mom wants everyone to continue with their daily contributions which are to be done by 7:30 am and 5:30 pm. The kids think they should only have to do them once a week. Setting a realistic expectation about daily contributions will alleviate fights, frustration, confusion and chaos. Remember to be flexible.

  • With this information, create a Summer 2010 Road Map. First, decide as a family what you want to SAY about the summer when it’s over. In other words, create a vision for your summer before it starts. And then use your Road Map to plot a course to getting there. This may take several days or several weeks to create.
  • Post the Summer 2010 Road Map somewhere you can see it. You will use this to inspire, redirect, and remind everyone in the family what summer is all about – according to you anyway.
  • Plan a series of Family Meetings that focus on the areas of the summer that might trip you up. For instance, family vacations, how many sleep overs per week, bedtimes and morning wake-ups, technology use, etc. Create a clear set of agreements and post these as well.

This might seem like a bit of work, but think about how you prepare for any important trip you are about to take. Do you just throw some “stuff” in a bag and hope you get to the airport on time? Of course not. So don’t leave your summer up to chance. Invest a little time up front this year and enjoy each and every day of summer vacation.

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