Summertime is upon us and if you have kids at home, then you know that this can be a stressful situation. The convergence of too much time, boredom and lack of preparedness can suck the life out of summer. As our kids were finishing up the school year, my wife
and I decided to draft the 10 Commandments of Summer for our klds. Instead of the typical routine of waiting for a problem and blowing up, we decided we needed to set the tone early in order to have the best summer we possibly can as a family.
That being said, as parents we see a successful summer differently than our kids do. Yes, we want to have fun and enjoy some things that just aren’t possible or available during the school year, but we have another goal…peace. Yes, we want a little Shalom in the home this summer. This means our kids’ newfound freedom must mesh with our expectations and boundaries. That’s is why we wrote the 10 Commandments of Summer. These don’t replace any other rules or expectations you have in place but they do provide a fresh reminder your kids might need for hot summer days ahead. Just like all rules, you have the prerogative to bend them as your discretion. I would advise staying as consistent as you can and you will see that your summer is much better for everyone in your family!
1) Thou shall clean up what thou mess up.
The reality of having kids at home all summer means there will simply be more mess than normal. Making a mess is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, some of the best chefs in the world leave a messy kitchen. Messes simply need to be cleaned up. Cleaning up what you mess up is a vital life lesson.
If you have little kids, the mess can grow to an overwhelming point if you don’t require your kids to clean up after themselves. This goes for your teenagers as well. It is completely reasonable for children of all ages to clean up after themselves. In general, if they have the ability to make the mess, they have the ability to clean it up.
2) Thou shall complete thy morning routine each day.
The morning routine serves as an anchor to establish a mindset of intentionality and focus. It will serve your kids and the general peace of your home the faster you establish the morning routine and the more you are consistent with it.
If you’re traveling this summer, do your best to keep this expectation in place. You’d be surprised how much this contributes to the peace and order during your time away from home. Little children keeping a morning routine during the summer helps establish good living and hygiene habits and will make the transition back to school much easier.
3) Thou shall have no screens before outside play and/or physical exercise
Outdoor play helps children with everything from fighting childhood obesity to problem-solving, focus, motor skills and sensory development. Obviously some outdoor play is weather permitting, but remember a little rain never hurt nobody!
4) Good attitudes and good manners are the constant expectation.
Stand firm on this one, parents. Remember, bad manners and bad attitudes are like weeds, they tend to grow fast and choke out the good stuff. Pull those weeds whenever you see them. It never helps your child to get away with a bad attitude or bad manners.
5) Required reading daily.
Reading is one of the best uses of time your kids can do all summer. Reading keeps some academic component active in their lives. If their school has assigned summer reading assignments, start there but try to give your kids freedom to choose what they read - they will likely enjoy it more.
6) Thou shall complete daily chores as assigned.
Kids need to have “skin in the game” around the house. During the summer, kids can get involved in general chores as well as special projects. Yard work, house cleaning, washing cars, taking out the trash, loading/unloading dishwasher, sweeping, mopping or vacuuming are great examples of chores kids of all ages can help with. Remember, if they can operate an iPhone, they can push a broom…among other things.
7) Thou shall shower/bathe daily.
Ok, we live in a house with all boys. We need this commandment in place or things could get ugly quick! Occasionally, a good long day at the pool will suffice! ;)
8) Honor thy summer bedtime schedule.
If you have teenagers, don’t forget their bodies need regular sleep more than any other age group. Try to keep a consistent “lights out” time for all ages. If your little ones are like ours, what seems like a good idea at the time to let them stay up late usually seems like a bad idea when they wake up at their normal time, grumpy and mad at the world. I believe we as parents must match our expectations with proper resources. This means we must allow and even enforce kids to get good sleep even though its summer time. Not to mention, a few nights a week I enjoy some kid-free time with Amanda. So, kids have to be in their rooms even if they aren’t sleeping, simply to give us some needed mommy and daddy time!
9) It is NOT Mom or Dad’s job to entertain you.
Parents, let this one free you up! It is not your job to be the constant source of entertainment for your kids. Sure, be intentional, be present, play and have fun, plan that trip, play date, outing and experience but don’t feel the pressure to mediate your child’s relationship with boredom. When kids have to manage their time and energy within your boundaries, they grow in their creativity and self-regulating skills.
10.) Thou shall be grateful.
Take some time daily to cultivate a grateful heart with your kids. Teach them to say “thank you” when appropriate. Help them know how to finish each day with a grateful attitude about something good that took place.
And, in the spirit of gratitude…thank you for reading and sharing this post!
Enjoy your #7000days this summer!