Arhhhh! It’s that time of year again. The kids have their long summer break from school and your usually peaceful home has turned into a battle zone. Nerves are frayed, tension is mounting and war has nothing on the bickering between siblings and the constant cries of “I’m bored!”.
You need to grab your Inner Imp Patience and come up with some serious CANDoable defence mechanisms if you’re gonna make it through the summer with your sanity, and your house, intact.
- Patience is a Virtue (muttered a rather smug basxxxd one day as he watched his wife trying to deal with the kids!) The sad truth is that it is. If you do nothing else this summer, practice patience. Don’t be in a hurry, don’t expect things to be done at certain times, expect to be asked “why” every five minutes, relax and smile in the knowledge that the summer holidays will end eventually. Let flexible become your modus operandi.
- Get your Zzzzzs – There’s a tendency to hit the sack later during the school breaks but with less sleep you’ll find it harder to practice the patience required above. Make sure you get enough sleep and you’ll find your tolerance levels much higher.
- Routines Still Rule – Another tendency in the holidays is to let all routine go to pot and that can be very unsettling for some kids. Bed times are later, meals are topsy-turvey, that promised summer reading or project always seems to be put off until the next day. You need to relax but not completely lose a routine. Summer reading or math practice should always have a slot at the beginning of every day. Aim for slightly later bedtimes but within a more flexible spectrum and plan simple meals that various family members can be help themselves to – it’ll promote independence if they have to feed themselves at lunchtime, e.g., toast, bread and butter, boiled eggs your cooked earlier and left in the fridge.
- Introduce a Donations Box – Keep a donations basket or big box and at the end of each day, dump everything in it that doesn’t belong where it is. When it’s full, shout out “I’m gonna make a donation”. If your kids don’t come take and put away things that belong to them, donate them to the rubbish bin (or a holding place until they show good behaviour), they’ll quickly learn and it’ll go a long way towards keeping clutter and bay.
- Keep them Active (Not Yourself) – Limit time with television and electronic games by having them “earn” minutes on them by doing chores around the house, completing summer reading/math practice without complaints or extra reading. They’ll be active while they’re earning their “minutes” and quiet while they’re playing/watching. Get out of the house as much as possible too. Take picnics and head for the nearest park, beach or other pleasure area where your darlings can run around and expend their energy, while you relax with a book (and a watchful eye out just in case).
- Encourage Kids to Get Out – Try and get them out of the house as much as possible. Don’t make the mistake of being an entertainments officer but take them to the park or visiting friends. Try and exchange “play visits” with other parents (one time to you Argh!; one time to them Ahhhh!)
- Camp in the Garden – Weather permitting, let them camp overnight in the garden. You can take hotdogs out to them, they can play with torches and play at survival.
- Resist Responding to “I’m Bored!” – “I’m bored” isn’t your cue to become chief entertainer in fact, it’s an ideal opportunity for your kid to learn how to amuse themselves. Keep a few games, puzzles, books, audio books, magazines, art supplies, etc., in an accessible spot and just nod in its directions the minute those golden words are uttered.