Monday, June 17, 2013

Mommy Monday: 7 Steps to Beat Summer Time Whining

7 Steps to Beat Summertime Whining     

It’s summer! For many of us, this is our favorite time of the year—the slow pace, the long days and no school activities to rush around to.
On the other hand, if we’re not careful, having the kids home all summer with no clear-cut responsibilities can slowly drive us crazy. First there’s the whining for a later bedtime: “But Moooooom, I can sleep in since there’s no school!” And then there are power struggles about chores: “I can’t believe you’re making me take out the trash!” And possibly worst of all, there are the endless battles about screen time: “Just one more show, pleeeeeaaaazzzz! It’s summer!”
Whether or not you’re about ready to scream or not, read on—I have a way to make summer easier on everyone, and it’s called a summer contract.
A summer contract is an agreement between parents and kids about summer expectations. It can—and should—include things like screen time limits, household responsibilities, summer reading, bedtime, and anything else that’s likely to be a struggle. Kids benefit from knowing their expectations up front, and being able to exercise some control over when chores get completed, for instance. Parents benefit because they now have a way to help their kids have both a relaxing and a productive summer. Here are some guidelines for setting up summer contracts in your house:
1. Keep it simple. You don’t need 20 rules—just focus on the main struggle areas.
2. One contract per child. The contract will vary by age and personal goals. For instance, if music practice is a key part of your child’s summer, write in 30 minutes of practice a day.
3. Limit technology. There’s no reason your kids need to be spending every spare minute in front of the tube, and in fact, it’s not healthy for them to do so. This is your chance to limit screen time to reasonable amounts.
happy family4. The contract is the law (not you!). Write clear consequences into the contract for what happens if your child does not adhere to it. For example, “If your chores aren’t completed by noon, you lose media privileges for the rest of the day,” or, “If you don’t respect the one hour per day rule for technology usage, you will lose technology privileges for the rest of the week.” Then, if your child decides to challenge the contract, he’ll know exactly what’s going to happen—and so will you.
5. Set summer bedtimes. While bedtimes may be slightly later in the summer, they still need to be firm. Stick to a regular bedtime and your kids will get the message after a few nights, with no more whining.
6. Get buy-in. Let your kids help decide what goes into the contract, and they’ll be more likely to follow it. For instance, while family contributions such as preparing a meal or helping out around the house aren’t optional, kids can decide which days of the week they change sheets, pull weeds or make a salad for dinner.
7. Post the contract and stick to it. Avoid backsliding and giving into whining by posting the kids’ summer contracts where you and the children will see them every day. If your kids start to battle you for a later bedtime, you can simply point to them to the contract. And by really sticking with it, your kids will soon learn that the rules aren’t up for negotiation.
With a summer contract, summer really can be fun for everyone!

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