It’s almost June and the days of summer will soon be here. That means vacation time combined with sweltering hot weather.
Lazy days of summer can be a wonderful change in the family rhythm, but too much time trapped inside together, especially when your norm isn’t seemingly endless amounts of unstructured time together, well….
The transition can be a bit rough.
A lot of parents start off the season with fresh excitement and dreams of family vacations and laughter.
Sadly, within a few weeks, there are fights and complaints of “I’m bored” that leave all of the parental units longing for autumn and the structure of kids back in school.
In my house house, where school wasn’t a thing until the older started community college classes at 15 and the younger started charter school classes at 12, we've had more of an ever changing rhythm than a firm structure.
But still, with all the free time of summer combined with the oppressive heat found in a place that feels like the surface of the sun by July, well...
Tempers just seem to rise with the temperatures making it a home full of sweaty, snapperheads.
So, how can you happily cohabitate with your family at home all the time this summer without wanting to strangle each other on a daily basis?
For the best advice, I turned to people who are used to spending lots and lots of time together:
I posed the question to my local homeschooling group, and got a variety of great ideas on how to survive the summer months, and really any extended time you have with your pack.
Miciah who has 2 kids at home says “What helps our family is having a space for each person to call their own and everyone respecting the household basic rules.
She adds, “Sometimes reminders are good when life's circumstances have changed. Standard, sit down family talks are established so that when something is amiss, it can be dealt with before issues arise.”
Miciah’s family also takes advantage of “lots of outdoor fun, even if it's just sprinklers or kiddie pool in the yard. We keep reading happening too, reading outside on nice nights with kids.”
As a mother of 2 boys, Jessica finds that keeping them active is key.
“I kick them out of the house a lot and they fight much less.
We have a pool, so we're lucky to be able to spend 75% of the summer in water. On the flip-side, lots of physical fun means exhaustion, so we also have rest time.”
The family also continues homeschooling during the summer, so just like the adults, the kids in the family still have work to do.
“Honestly, the heat and how often we go camping is the only thing that really changes during the summer. I love that about this lifestyle!”
Josie has 4 boys and will admit, “Life is crazy!”
She recommends avoiding hangry children (or parents) while also shunning a hot kitchen by planning easy meals.
“Think cheese sticks, salami, and fruit for lunch or snacks. Pasta salads and BBQ for dinner.”
She adds, “Sometimes kids get picky in the summer because it's too hot to eat heavy and hot meals. I find it makes everyone's lives easier if we keep it simple.”
Her family takes advantage of the local library and it’s amazing summer reading program, noting “We can easily kill several hours there.”
They’ve also found it worthwhile to invest in a family pass to the local aquatic center, going regularly in the hottest, and often crankiest, time of the day.
While they enjoy having fun things to do, she tries to avoid too many set activities or organized sports that create a rigid schedule.
“Summer is a time of relaxing, not rushing from one hot practice to another.”
Josie added, “One day our kids won't be able to enjoy summer anymore. Let them now. Go find a creek away from the hustle of life and just chill. Explore. Let them be kids. I guarantee they will have way more fun.
Diana has a whopping 11 kids. Yes, you read that right.
The oldest few are out of the house, but there are still a whole lotta little people running around her home, and lemme tell you~ she rocks it.
One of her top tools? Meal planning. “Let them help do that. Then, they are more invested in your day at home.”
Another thing she didn’t mention, but you can tell within 5 minutes of being around her people~ they like each other. They spend time together, working and playing and they kind of have it down.
And... I’m not really sure how she does it but they somehow manage to have less clutter than we had in a house with just 3 teens.
They keep it simple. Anyway~ getting off topic here, but I really think the lack of stuff under foot helps keep people more relaxed. (It’s a theory anyway~ I haven’t tried it myself…)
Amy has her boys do a list of chores every morning in the summer before they can go on electronics.
Naphtali also advises limiting screen time. “The more time my kids spend watching movies and playing videos games the more they fight and bicker!”
Kristi agrees. “When our TV was broken, within 2 days my son said it was the best thing that ever happened.”
They get along much better when they don't have screen time - although they don't want to say it because they like it.”
She adds, “When I take it away totally, they'll fight more the next day, and then turn to playing by the second day. It also makes a difference what shows they are watching....
Me limiting my time on technology and being present with them is another key component.”
I definitely agree with everyone on finding balance with screens. I’ve seen them increase short attention spans and dissatisfaction (not just in kids~ in myself as well!)
I know as a parent, it’s easy to be judgy about kids and their devices, but I’m just as guilty and actually put restrictive controls on my own phone so I can’t “accidentally” waste time mindlessly scrolling.
Kristi also asked her 6 year old what helps her get along with her brother better and she said, "Eating healthy food”.
Wise words from that young lady! Kristi notes “It’s so true and not even what I was going to write, but it's key. My kids do much better on whole foods and no sugar.”
The food theme has come up so many times, and we all know it’s not a coincidence. Food really can make a difference~ especially good food.
Her daughter also mentioned the importance of quality time, and Kristi encouraged learning about the 5 Love Languages so that you can know and speak to each other in ways that are most likely to be heard.
“We have to be intentional with it, making sure everyone feels loved.”
Kristi concluded her family gets along better when they have time out in nature and play dates with friends and notes. “When there are times of conflict, one thing we do to shift the atmosphere is play music.”
Mikki, who has one grown and one nearly grown girl recalls the importance of teaching her kids to get along, rather than just trying to find ways to keep them apart.
“I always told them that "a house divided will fall" and since there are only 4 in our family, if 2 are in conflict that's half the house!
We each took turns choosing an activity per week. We may not always like the choice of the other person, but that's part of the lesson as well.
Since her family liked to read, having good reading material helped, along with good family friendly movies to watch.
“I can say that the time I took with them in their younger years has truly helped them be life-long friends.”
And that’s what we’d probably all like to hope for with our families~ that even when they are grown and we don’t have to live together, we still like each other enough to want to hang out together.
I hope this has given you some good ideas to get through summer. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it so much, you won’t want to send them back to school in August?
Either way, good luck, and enjoy your family!
If you found this helpful, please share it with a friend, or better yet, on Facebook!
And if you have any tips on not killing each other over the summer, please leave them in the comments below!
Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / Former Goat-Herding HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Semi-Crazy Chicken Lady and Mamacita Extraordinaire to a couple of Cage Free Kids.