Ah, summer! Grilled, marinated deliciousness. Water fights. Lazy mornings. Running on the beach.
Children screaming downstairs… wait a minute, that doesn’t fit my Hallmark card moment.
“MOM! She won’t let me play the video game and I got down here first!” I hear as I stumble out of bed at 6:45 a.m. (What happened to lazy mornings??)
I arrive to three irritated, half-naked, bed-headed kids. The family room floor hiding under all the blankets they dragged from bed with them. Mixed with… what is that? Cereal? Chocolate chips?
Welcome to summer vacation!
How can we possibly relax instead of manage sibling WWF this summer?? Here are a few ways I tame the madness.
Know what you need.
Mismatched or dashed expectations breed frustration for everyone. So spend a moment to envision or brainstorm your ideal summer:
- In your ideal summer, what would relaxing look like?
- What would relaxing look like for the rest of the family members?
- What is one way each day you can include some part of each person’s vision?
Give space for emotions.
Change throws people for a loop, even if it’s good change. High expectations for the summer + school-stressed kids + different daily routine = volcanic meltdowns. Vent the volcano of emotion with these strategies:
- Let them know it’s okay if they feel a little “off” or they’re down because they miss seeing their friends every day.
- Get them a special summer journal to write, draw and scribble – to chronicle the vacation.
- Find out what routines they’d like to include in their summer days. Sit down as a family to plan how each child’s ideas can be worked in to a loose routine each week.
Use key events as anchors.
Working together as a family to plan and prepare for visitors, vacations, or other summer events can form a framework for the looser structure of summer. It keeps everyone focused on a common goal and gives kids a crucial sense of ownership in these events, making them more fun for everyone.
- Have a brief family meeting to put main events or travels on your summer calendar. Post it someplace everyone can see it.
- Include the whole family in planning what needs to be prepared or packed before each special date. Mark the calendar for the errands, packing parties and other preparations.
- Make a routine of looking at the calendar each day, noting the fun things done recently and the good things coming up.
Plan some of each person’s ideal recharge each week.
Yes, summer’s about recharging, but we all know the feeling of needing a vacation from our vacations. A little planning and intention can go a long way towards keeping everyone cool-headed throughout the summer.
- As you look over your calendar, leave a blank spot sometime each day. Make that a time when each person can choose a favorite relaxing activity and if needed, have a little quiet or space to refresh.
- Have backup quiet activities available for those moments for your party animal family members – the extroverts and active ones who will have trouble respecting sis, bro or mom’s need for quiet :).
- Ease back together from those quieter moments by sharing what people did. It’s a great way to get to know each others preferences and celebrate relaxation as a family.