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Challenge: Summer Fun

Five Ways to Save Your Sanity This Summer

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And Make Your Days Way More Fun!

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Summer’s officially in full swing and if you’re like a lot of parents, you’re already dreading the impending “I’m bored” stage of the season, even before it begins. While we may not keep boredom totally at bay – there are some things you can do to create almost perfect conditions for more fun, more family time, and less stress for YOU!

Let’s take a look at five ways you can kick off the season in the right spirit:

1. Get One-on-One. Sometimes, “I’m bored” is code for “I really want you to spend time with you.” Believe it or not, one of the best things you can do to make summer days go more smoothly – with less complaining and more cooperation – is to spend one-on-one time each day with your kids. When you take the time to play with them or take a quick walk or whatever they like to do – you’ll meet their need for emotional connection.

You’ll find this investment in time reaps grand rewards in improved behavior and a more cooperative attitude. As good as that sounds, the reality is we parents are BUSY and that doesn’t change much during the summer. I’m asking you to trust me on this one! Let the laundry pile up, the garage cleanup wait, and spend 10-15 minutes per day, one-on-one, doing what THEY want to do. You’ll feel so much better about your day and so will your kids. Put them first – and everything else second – and you won’t ever have to look back and say, "Gosh, I wish I would have enjoyed more time actually WITH my kids this summer."

2. Set Summer Bedtimes. One of the best things you can do for YOUR sanity is to keep your kids on a regular summer bedtime for weeknights and weekends. Your kids may put up a fuss and you may hear, “But Mom…” a few times, but they’ll get the message after a few nights, without the whining.

There are two major upsides to setting summer bedtimes: first, you have a routine that you follow consistently (we know kids thrive on routine – even in the summer!), and second, more sleep means less cranky kids. When kids fall into that summertime, up-too-late mode, they’re not a whole lot of fun to be around the next day. When they’re rested (and you are too) you’ll have a lot more ‘get-up-and-go’ to actually, well you know, get up and GO somewhere fun as a family.

3. Everyone Contributes. All kids - toddlers to teens - should be expected to take part in Family Contributions during the summer. (I like the term “Family Contributions” much better than “chores” because it reminds kids they make a difference in your family.) Ensure less complaining and more cooperating by making Family Contributions part of a When-Then Routine. When your family contributions are complete, then you can enjoy your 30 minutes of technology time. No exceptions on this one or you’ll be negotiating it all summer long!

4. Ban Boredom. While it’s super easy to default to TV or technology when kids complain of being bored, it’s not likely to create any great summer memories. Gather your family and get creative with a brainstorming session dedicated to this summer.

Write every idea down, no matter how crazy they sound. Have fun with it. You may even want to make the brainstorming a fun weekly exercise in idea gathering for the week ahead. Head online for great ideas from family-friendly blogs, travel sites, your own community message boards or Pinterest. With sky’s-the-limit creativity, you might surprise yourself at how much fun you can have – even on small budgets!

5. Limit Technology. Be clear about the family rules for media and technology this summer and replace it with face-time of a whole different variety – yours! Create family-friendly play opportunities that keep your kids off their computers, TV, video games, and phones and into interactive time with family and friends.

Summertime should be about making memories, slowing down the pace a little, and enjoying each other’s company. A little thought on the front end of this season can make all the difference.

Give your kids some control by allowing them to help steer the activities and come up with creative ideas for new family favorites. Foster that love of creative thinking and see who can come up with the wackiest, craziest, right-up-everyone’s-alley fun idea for the week and you’ll laugh a lot more together this summer.

In the grand scheme of things, this time is over in a blink, so enjoy every moment you can! Now, who’s up for a living room blanket fort or backyard water balloon fight? Have fun!

Amy McCready's new book is "The 'Me, Me, Me' Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World." Learn more at AmyMcCready.com.

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