Summer made simple for moms

Posted May 22

Transitioning to summer is exactly that — a transition. As a mom, intentionally create a smoother, more enjoyable summer with these key steps.

1. Keep it lean. Release expectations of Mom Cruise Director. Don’t overschedule and don’t do for them constantly. When moms intentionally choose a few activities and events, kids can enjoy the remaining downtime for creative fun, developing a talent or using their imagination.

One of my friends has a teenage son whose group of friends did this. In the group was a young man who had tried to raise chickens and it hadn’t worked out. Instead of letting it be, the young men decided to turn the chicken coop into a man cave. Although they had access to a beautiful theater room in one of their homes, these kids spent their time making something memorable.

2. Teach life skills. During our last family night we had an enthusiastic discussion (*insert laugh/cry emoticon*) about the three 3s of summer — work, life skills and your personal best. For work, we asked, “What job or service can you do this summer?” And then, what can we do to help them prepare for such, i.e. teach how to write a resume, help create posters, check with networking connections for possible work possibilities.

Finding a job can be tough for teens, but if so, they can still serve. A young man or woman can volunteer service at a company or institution, benefiting both parties. And, when it comes time for job applications, they have a great foot in the door with those companies.

Life skills can include cooking, grocery shopping, organizing rooms or managing time. An informal chat with a child can help clarify what are the skills that need to be learned, and how best to teach them. Maybe that means kids cook on Sundays, a child accompanies a parent to the grocery store as a helper, or parent and child research time management principles to choose the best to practice over the summer.

A personal best is just that — a personality trait that can be improved. Perhaps for a child it’s learning to be socially savvy, to be positive or to be a finisher. This is ideally done when a parent chooses a personal best to work on as well. In a difficult or learning situation, or following up, both can ask, “Is that my personal best?”

3. Let kids lead. Make summer planning a fun, open and adventurous experience rather than a chore. Talk with your family about two things: What do we need to do/experience this summer? And what do we want to do/experience this summer? Use their opinions to discover better ways to plan, delegate and enjoy the time.

For everyday life, kids can share in car pools, become tutors to younger children for a daily session (math skills, reading), or take turns in the kitchen. Our children choose a “lunch” day where they are responsible for making and cleaning up lunch for the family.

With vacations, children can plan travel routes, help choose hotels, research events and activities, and organize a schedule. Summer will still have its “joyful noise” but the more children are involved in the planning process, the more likely it is to be a positive.

Make this summer simple, doable and enjoyable by making it a family experience right out of the gate!

Connie Sokol is an author, presenter, TV contributor and mother of seven. Contact her at


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