by Jenny Mathews
Each year as summer break approaches; we may feel a little (or a lot of) anxiety when we imagine the many longer, hotter days with children at home that require entertainment. In the past I’ve done everything from meticulously scheduling our days with colorful calendars, lists, ledgers and charts, to letting the summer days be free to express themselves: be spontaneous, adventurous or lazy. However, despite my best efforts, life always happens, plans change and I too often hear that infamous phrase, “Mommy, I’m bored!”
Whether you’re a planner or not, having a general schedule
or game plan can really come in handy. Jen, from iheart organizing, has a summer schedule for her boys that is simple enough that, for the most part, they can follow it themselves. Besides a few daily household tasks, she leaves most Fridays open to be “Family Fun Day.” They can choose from a list of family outings as a reward for following the schedule Monday through Thursday. Check out Jen’s blog for lots of organizing tips and printables.
Besides creating a schedule, one of our favorite ways to kick-off summertime is by setting goals. What do we want to accomplish this summer? If you think your family could benefit from summer goal setting, here are a few suggestions:
Reading over the summer is a great way to keep kids’ minds active. We like to make a trip to the library (or bookstore) as soon as school is out. We make a list of all the books they want to read, but check out no more than two at a time. If you’re a scheduler, consider scheduling reading time for the hottest time of the afternoon, during the baby’s naptime or the time when kids may tend to gravitate towards the TV or video games. Let your child set his or her own reading goal and choose a reward that appropriately reflects their effort. You may even find that small, intermittent rewards like stickers or treats are a great way to keep your kids motivated.
A summer service goal might be something like helping out at grandma’s house for a few hours a week, or volunteering to do one small service for someone in the community each week- walk their dog, weed their garden, bring them treats or whatever they may need. Keeping the projects small enough to fit within a weekly timeline will prevent procrastination and overwhelming your child. Even more importantly, you’ll be helping them develop habits that build a stronger sense of appreciation, accountability, and membership in their community.
Personal goals can be just about anything: reaching a certain level in a music lesson, improving proficiency in math skills, making a new friend, quitting a bad habit, earning a scouting badge or learning a new skill. These are the types of goals that can be a bit harder to define and achieve but, speaking from experience, have the longest lasting benefit.
There is never a shortage of things my kids seem to think they need; yet they sometimes come up short in savings. Every child should experience the sense of accomplishment that comes from steadily filling his or her piggy bank. Help them imagine fun and creative ways for them to earn money that are “outside the box.” Some examples may be selling tickets to a variety show that your kids put on, or having an auction of goods or services they can donate. Selecting and achieving a summer savings goal is a great way to encourage smart money habits.
Don’t forget to be realistic when helping your children set attainable goals and have fun. Just a bit of preparation and effort can amount to a very productive and rewarding summer.