There is an old expression - the lazy, hazy days of summer - but with the kids out of school its anything but lazy...except maybe the sleeping-in part. As my daughter Melissa recently blogged, they are continually snacking, fighting, whining, and being bored. What to do, what to do. (her kids in above photos...my angelic grandchildren don't look like trouble makers do they??)
Well since my former whiners are out of the nest and now the whine-ees, I have time to give some suggestions.
Kids love plans. They want to know what they can count on and look forward to. Kids are used to structure during school hours and they need it now also. Before the dam broke, I mean school let out, I would sit down and made some lists; what did I want them to learn that summer, how would our days be structured, where would we go on vacation (usually to grandma's for some free babysitting) what fun stuff would we do and what would the summer rules be. Prepared with some plans I wasn't on the defense just being frustrated. Plans prevent punishment....usually.
1. Just face the fact that your free time is now mostly gone for a couple of months.
2. Have a family meeting to plan out the summer: rules, consequences for breaking rules, expectations, things to learn, possible activities and write them down in the "family book".
3. Sketch out a loose daily time frame with big blocks of time and tape it to the fridge. Include wake up time, basic cleanups, THEN breakfast, etc. Kids like to know what they can count on and look forward to...I always made sure there was a block for quiet time after lunch, for naps, reading etc.
4. The main activity the first week off school was cleaning out closets, and sorting outgrown clothes....teaching the skill of organizing. This was done again the week before school started again.
5. Mommy money! All my kids remember this and it really worked! Make monopoly-like money of different denominations out of card stock. This money is earned by the kids and then used by them to buy pre set privileges, like having a friend over at night, a popsicle, staying up an extra hour, or a trip to the treasure box (mommy's personal dollar store) or whatever means the most to them. Kids will do positive things to get things they want. The money is earned according to a chart with the worth of each bit of money, like reading x amount of books, pulling x amount of weeds, take out garbage, washing windows (even though they will likely look worse after). You are teaching the value of work and learning to earn. These chores are "extra" and not a part of their regular chores. Mommy money needs to be age appropriate. I remember giving mommy money to the little ones just for getting hugs. They just wanted the paper like the older kids! I usually snuck it back later.
Hmmm. that's the structure....ideas for activities next blog.