You and your child have been looking forward to summer break for months.
You’ve got everything planned out: the places you’ll visit, the family you’ll catch up with. And although it’s a pain to organize everything, you’re looking forward to a little bit of down time with your family.
The problem is, you remember how last summer ended: frustration, tears, and an intense desire to get out of the hell of summer vacation and get the kids back into school.
Just what exactly happened here?
You have no idea how a pleasant summer break turned into Nightmare on Elm Street (okay, I’m dating myself here).
Why summer can end up being one long water slide to Hell.
Sure, in the beginning it looked like things were finally going to be different this year.
You and the kids scoured the internet for interesting, educational, and relatively inexpensive places to visit. You even lined up a few playdates with friends, and invested in some new toys in the hopes of keeping everyone gainfully occupied.
But unless you implement a few critical things, you’re still going to wish you could take a semi-permanent vacation far away from the beings who call themselves your children.
While the thought of not having to wake up unwilling kids early might warm the cockles of your heart, letting your kids sleep in every day is actually a bad idea.
Not only does it mess up your child’s sleep/wake cycle – they’ll have to go to bed eventually-but it sets a bad precedent for the day.
On days when you actually do have something important to do, you’ll find yourself on top of kids who can’t seem to get their acts together, because they’re too tired and because they’ve gotten out of the habit of sticking to a schedule.
You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn every morning, however, in order to keep things under control. Instead, you can let your child sleep later, and go to bed later than they would normally – just make sure that the time you choose stays consistent within about a half-hour.
Letting the rules slide.
Summer seems to bring out the carefree in all of us, myself included.
But don’t confuse carefree with lax. Just because it’s break doesn’t mean you can let your kids do whatever they want – they still need to be disciplined, even when it’s a pain in the neck.
If your kid starts having a temper tantrum while waiting on line for the aquarium, or pitches a hissy fit while waiting to buy snacks at the store, don’t resort to bribes and other behavior that will only make things worse later.
Stick to your guns – even if you have to get out of the line you’ve been waiting in line for the last half-hour – and do what needs to be done.
You don’t have to be a party-pooper about it, of course.
There’s nothing wrong about bending the rules occasionally, as long as you’ve it’s a carefully thought out decision, rather than a reaction to being publically embarrassed.
Take ten minutes to think about what rules you don’t mind sliding on, and those that are important to you and your family’s sanity, safety, and well being. If you want, you can put up a “summer rules” list, so your kids will know about the changes.
If you want to be really fancy, you can make a summer contract with them (I’ll write a post about that later), but even a three minute discussion is enough to let the kids know what to expect – and what not to expect.
You don’t have to please everyone, all the time.
Sometimes parents get this idea that it’s their job to make sure everybody’s happy.
Pretty much impossible.
It’s your job to make sure everyone is fed, has clean clothing and a place to stay. It’s also your job to make sure that they come out of your house with the values and beliefs that are important to you.
But happy? All the time?
Follow these suggestions, and you just might feel a twinge of regret at sending the kids back to school when the summer ends.
Did you know that your kids will forget up to 2 months of what they’ve learned over the summer?
You’ve worked hard to get your child to where they are.
But did you know that a few weeks during the summer can undermine all of your efforts?
Read here to find out what you can do to prevent that.