May has officially arrived! And, in just a few weeks, parents across the country are going to panic as they muddle a very specific “s” word that comes to mind as the school year begins to wind down…
Summer is that word, of course!
If you’ve been pacing back and forth trying to brainstorm how you’re going to survive the summer, avoid meltdown, fights, and arguments, and keep peace in your home during the long school-less months with your children, you’re in the right place!
Every year, I get loads of questions from parents who are wondering…
“How can I make this summer different?”
“What can I do to get through the dreadful summer months?”
“How on earth will I be able to entertain my children and keep them happy on a break that is so long?”
In an effort to answer these questions and to give you some hope that the summer months can be filled with fun, peace, and joy, I’ve put together an 8-Step Summer Survival Plan. Check it out…
Step 1: Celebrate Success
It’s been a long year of following routines, doing homework, and going from activity to activity…and you survived! The first step in setting yourself up to survive the summer is reflecting and celebrating the accomplishments of the past school year.
You can do this in many different ways. Families I work with often hold a family meeting where they talk about their successes, make a list of everything they’ve accomplished, or make a collage/draw pictures of their accomplishments.
Depending on how old your children are, find an appropriate way to celebrate all the successes of the past year.
Step: 2: Discuss How You Want Your Summer to Feel
It’s very important for parents to meet without their kids around to discuss how they want summer to feel. Brainstorm positive keywords, and make a list of how you want to feel over the break.
The words I personally focus on when I’m thinking about the future are adventure, connection, and happiness.
For some more insight as to why these words are important and how to pick what words are most important to you, I encourage you to check my blog on conscious parenting.
Step 3: Discover How Your Kids Want to Feel
Once you and your co-parent have your words selected, it’s time to discover what your kids want to feel this summer.
Hold a meeting with your children and ask them how they want the summer to feel. Carving time out to do this allows children and teens to feel acknowledged and heard.
Most likely, your child/teen will say something along the lines of, “I want to have fun!” or “I want to feel adventurous.” Use these words for step #4, below.
Step 4: Plan Summer Activities That Correspond with Your Child’s Words
Your next step is to start planning activities with your children that take into consideration how they want to feel during the summer.
For example, your kids might desire to feel adventure and connection while having fun. Think about those objectives and brainstorm activities together that fulfills them all, like going to your family’s cabin on the lake over the summer.
Ask your kid, “Will going to the cabin give you an opportunity to experience adventure, happiness, and connection?” It may sound simple, but asking a question helps kids feel as if their voice matters and they’re an important part of your family.
If the answer is yes all around, then add it to your summer agenda! If not, try using the same method with another summer activity.
Step 5: Brainstorm Challenges
Brainstorming challenges is one of the most vital parts of setting yourself up for summer survival. It’s a time to reflect and be honest with yourself.
Think about what was tricky last summer for your child. Did he struggle to get out of pajamas, get off video games, or was he constantly following you around the house due to boredom?
Once you make yourself aware of these challenges, it will be easier to help your child avoid putting himself into situations that will trigger negative reactions like fighting, yelling, and arguing.
Why? Because when you clearly identify a challenge, it means you can clearly identify a positive plan to resolve it!
Tip: If your child struggles to entertain himself, check out my blog on helping children to play by themselves!
Step 6: Be Aware and Accommodate Special Needs
If your child has special needs including sensory processing disorders, immaturity in areas like emotional development, language delays, etc., this is going to impact how you put together your summer survival plan.
Keeping these special needs in mind, it’s important to put together realistic and appropriate guidelines to accommodate your child’s needs in order to prevent chaos from ruining the happiness in your home.
Example: If you have a teenager and you don’t allow her to text people after 10:00 p.m., it’s not realistic to allow her to keep her phone in her room at night…even if she uses it as an alarm clock. To prevent problems, get her a normal alarm clock and then make it a rule that all devices get charged in the parent’s room overnight.
This very clearly sets boundaries and ensures you won’t be walking in your child’s room at 1:00 a.m. to find your kid disobeying the rules, which only leads to arguing, sleepless hours, and unhappy children.
Step 7: Target One Challenge at a Time
Last but not least, you should target making improvements in one challenging area at a time during the summer, such as making bedtime routines easier or improving sibling relationships in your home.
One of the best ways to help children understand their responsibility that comes with being part of your family is using language to help them see that they “earn” special things, like screen time and summer trips–these aren’t to be demanded.
Example: If you have a kid that has a hard time getting out of pajamas in the morning, use language like, “First change out of your pajamas and get dressed. Then you earn your screen time.”
For more information on how to help your child understand he isn’t entitled to things like his video games, check out this blog.
Step 8: Plan Out Your Summer Fun
Now that you’ve done all the hard work, it’s time to plan out a fun summer for you and your children. If you have 10 weeks of vacation, try and pick at least one activity per week that you can look forward to based on how both you and your children want to feel this summer.
Before you know it, school will be back in full swing, so be mindful of the extra time you have to spend with the ones you love and make an effort to really enjoy each other this summer.
If you feel as if you’re going to need a little extra help setting your family up for an enjoyable summer, I encourage you to check out my Discipline Protocol program.
This program will give you a few extra resources and tools to help you regain control of your household and bring peace and happiness back into your home.
Check out the Discipline Protocol program.