By Mark Timm, CEO Ziglar Family
Ahhh… summer! It may not have technically arrived according to the calendar, but with school out and kids home all day it’s most definitely summer time in our household!
There are so many things to love about summer, from the relaxed schedule and pace of life, to the hours spent fishing and swimming at the lake, to the seemingly endless supply of garden-fresh produce — it’s pretty much unanimously our family’s favorite time of year.
So yes, it’s a time to relax, slow down, and really enjoy the long summer days. But one thing my wife and I have learned as parents is that relaxed doesn’t mean a complete absence of any schedule or structure. Kids are kids, and even in the summer, they do better with some direction for their days.
How little or much structure you provide for your kids is a personal choice, and it depends on your unique family dynamics. Some families find that just having two or three general guidelines works well enough (like limiting screen time or requiring some help around the house) while other families find that having a daily checklist of responsibilities is more effective.
One idea that has worked well for us is to have a small whiteboard for each kid (or one large whiteboard divided into sections for each kid) with a daily checklist of tasks to accomplish.
We start by giving them freedom to choose when to take care of the tasks, but if they start to neglect some items, or save them until right before bed and then do a quick, less-than-thorough job, we might set some time limits on when things have to be completed.
Another possibility is to prohibit all electronics until tasks are done, and that is definitely something we deploy if screen time seems to be taking up too much daily time.
Here’s a look at what a typical daily checklist for our kids might look like, keeping in mind that we have all teenagers!
- Pick-up your bedroom and bathroom
- Put away your laundry
- Exercise 30 minutes (can be anything active, preferably outdoors)
- Read two chapters in your summer reading book
- Write a thank-you note to your grandma for the birthday gift.
- Ask Mom what one chore she needs your help on today
We keep it short and sweet, and as simple as possible, so that nobody feels like the list is overwhelming. On any given day, 5 – 6 items is the most we would assign.
What’s on Your Bucket List?
Another tactic we employ to keep the kids from slipping into the dreaded “I’m bored” mode is to post a summer bucket list. This list has tons of ideas for the kids to try, and after completing each one, they put a check-mark with their initials. It becomes somewhat of a contest to see who can complete the most items before the end of summer, and we’ll even give some prizes to our top finishers!
Here is a sample of what a summer bucket list could look like for teens, and this can be easily modified for younger kids:
- Watch fireworks
- Play BINGO
- Fly a kite
- Wash the car
- Go to a concert
- Make homemade pizza
- Go camping
- Go to a movie
- Catch a fish
- Find 3 constellations
- Make a tie-dye shirt
- Play a board game with your siblings
- Got to a parade
- Make a watercolor painting
- Make s’mores
- Play flashlight tag
- Volunteer somewhere for at least 3 hours
- Water balloon fight
- Watch the sunrise and sunset in the same day
- Create a photo album
- Read a whole book in one day
The possibilities are endless, and you can find tons more ideas with a quick Google search. The best idea is for your family to create the list together, then post it in a common area for easy access and reference.
Then, get busy having fun!
What ideas do you have for keeping kids from turning into couch potatoes over the summer? Share them below!