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Summer Survival For Parents and Kids

Updated on September 19, 2015

My application for camp is in the mail. The check for the down payment on the family vacation has been sent. The local parks and recreation department have seasonal job applications on it's website. This has been a wicked hard winter and now it's time to think about summer.

For some parents summer is their worst nightmare. What do I do for child care? What do I do to keep the kids from driving me crazy? Will my children lose all they have learned during the school year over the summer? Malcolm his book Outliers
addresses what outstanding people do that make them outstanding.What kids do over the summer is important. But in that same book he researches a community in the United States where people don't have heart disease, or commit suicide He his conclusion is community and activity are important. My desire is to give the moms, dads and caregivers ideas for a successful summer without a huge amount of stress.

Sounds Of Summer

Kids look forward to the beginning of summer. Parents, look at summer as a challenge.

Who will watch the kids while I am at work? What will those kids do all summer? When will I get some time to myself? These are the questions every parent asks when facing summer.

I used have mixed emotions about the start of summer. Not having a schedule was wonderful, not having a schedule was awful. Without a schedule things just happened. Before we knew it everything was scheduled without any input from the family. Where was the time for reading books? Swimming? Taking excursions to the ... you name it. Summer Survival Guide for Parents sat on my night stand waiting for me to read it.

As the routine of school abruptly ends, after a flurry of over activity, nothing seems as daunting as three months of summer. Without school, after school activities, and homework what are the kids going to do all summer?

Unfortunately many kids sit and do nothing. These are the kids that struggle to make their minds work when they return to school. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers discusses how the intelligence gap increases between kids who do nothing all summer, and kids who have been active during the summer. When they return to school the kids who have watched T.V.and played video games all summer were nearly 1/2 year behind the active kids. Get those kids moving!

When the kids are little you spend time at the park, water play and play groups. Reacquainting school age children with these things can have surprising results.

Attitude and planning will make the difference. No schedule, and no routine leads to whiny kids. Money is nice, but families with children don't have lots of cash to send their kids to camps or pay for expensive activities. Hopefully this article will give you some ideas on for getting your kids moving, learning and having fun.

Ideas For Developing Summer Routines

Mount a calendar so the kids clearly see the summer. Use the calendar to teach mathematical patterns.

  • Mark the last day of school and the first day of school clearly.
  • Research summer activities and determine which are most interesting for everyone.
  • Mark big events like major trips, summer sports leagues, day camps,parents work days.
  • Mark free days
  • If the kids are old enough let them make the calendar and do the marking.
  • Put the calendar on their phones


Every child needs to move, every child needs quiet and every child needs mental stimulation. When you get too old for those three things let me know.

Balance will avoid breakdowns and chaos. Letting kids stay up all night and sleep all isn't a good idea.

Get enough sleep. I am all for a relaxed routine. I get up at 7am and the kids get up a 9 or 10am. Mom has mom time and the kids enjoy the day because she has had her coffee. I realize this isn't practical, but tired parents and children make for . The important message; balance is as important in summer as well as school schedules.

Teach how to have quiet time. Sometimes kids need to unplug. Kids who can unplug learn self control. A wise women once told me when my toddler was running wild," The most important thing you can teach a boy is self-control".

You are the parent. If you don't care about your child developing self control and creativity who will"? If the kid throws a fit tell them firmly and quietly,"This kind of behavior isn't allowed in this house". Then stick to your decision. If your kid knows you will cave to their behavior in 15 minutes you have taught them your words can't be trusted.

Toddlers are savvy with apps on I Phones, so it is never too early to unplug. Allowing a child to unplug for a period each day when they are young may avoid trouble when children are older. Expecting children to amuse themselves instills a valuable life skill.

Another good life skill is working exercise into daily routines. Everyone needs vitamin D for good health. Outside activities are a great source of vitamin D. Get those kids outside for exercise.

Try for a balance between what is fun for you, fun for the kids and something you all like. You can't please all the people all the time, so take turns giving each family member what interests them.

Ideas For Building Responsibility

  • Pay children to do small jobs. Small kids get small jobs and slack in doing them well. Breath in breath out. It is O.K. if a toddler doesn't do the job you would do. Do not over pay. A toddler could get a penny to put in his bank and be thrilled.
  • Older the child need to be corrected and taught to do a good job. They also get more money. Until they are old enough to fully count and understand the value of money stick to small change. Don't take them to Macy's with $5. The dollar store fits a small child's budget much better.
  • You can give them a list of chores to do. Our treasure chore box would get opened at the beginning of day or the week depending on how often we wanted to change who did what job.
  • Teach older children to budget. My idea of budgeting is a spending plan.


Routine should incorporate responsibility. Responsibility should accompany privileges. The more responsible a kid is the more privileges he should have. This should start with tiny responsibilities when they are small to big responsibilities when they are older.

You ask what kind of responsibility will kids put up with during the summer? Kids will do just about anything to get attention from their parents.

This morning I heard a news report: Expensive things to do with your kids this summer. Really, Not on my budget. No matter what you do there is almost always some cost involved. This is a great way to help kids learn about responsibility.

Jobs Kids Can Do

Toddlers can: pick up toys and put them away, fold wash cloths and put them in draws. feed the dogs,


Make memories with your children. My best memories of the summer involve getting to grandma's house. My brother's job was to get me cross the city to grandma's house. We took the bus to within walking distance of grandma's. Brother sat as far away from me and walked as far away as he could. He is 5 years older and certainly didn't want to be seen with his little sister. I loved it. I pretended to be going on the bus alone. After getting off the bus I stopped at the grocery store and bought a root beer from the vending machine. I savored the icy cold root beer on my walk. to grandma's. The routine was get to grandma's before 10 am Then we needed to be ready when dad picked us up at 5 o'clock.. Frequently, dad took us swimming after work. I don't know how we determined where we would swim. Sometimes we went to a small local reservoir. Sometimes we went to a swimming pool up in the red woods,sometimes we went to the beach in Alameda. I don't think I had a favorite. Dad loved swimming after a long day at work, he was almost excited about it as me. The happy memories I have from those swimming trips are priceless. Plan things with your kids you both like.

Parents the expensive camp will not be the thing your child remembers for a life time. They will remember something little you thought was unimportant.

Touching Book About How One Mother Educated 12 Kids


Summer Camp immediately comes to everyone's mind when they think kids summer activity.

Camps are expensive and impacted. Yesterday, a friend, recounted how her son didn't get into a camp that he really wanted to attend. Despite sending in the registration as early as possible the camp filled within minutes. In this case many parents called and the group organizing the camp was able to add another session.

The cost of camps can be discouraging. Start now to finance a camp. This is especially important for student athletes. Many colleges supplement their sports programs with high school sports camps. One of our sons went to volleyball camp at Stanford University in high school. I

In the San Francisco Bay Area I found four publications announcing summer sports camps. There are literally hundreds of camps. Please think twice about sending a 9 year old lacrosse player to a camp that costs nine hundred dollars. Nine year old kids should and can be entertained all summer for far less with far less.

A 16 year old lacrosse player should start putting away some money of his or her money every month for expensive camps.

Camp scholarships are available; asking is always a good idea...


The possibilities for summer are endless. Being a parent is hard work. The rewards of watching your child learn responsibility and independence then launching out on their own is worth all the work. Your challenge this summer is to have balance, movement and learning going on in your family. Include friends and that increases the joy factor for everyone.

This hub is directed toward older children, a hub for younger children is on the way.


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      Thanks for visiting AliciaC. I always say," Bored kids are boring people, if you can't find something interesting to do". My kids hated that, but none of them is boring.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You have some very good ideas, tirelesstraveler. The fact that in September students who did nothing over summer are almost half a grade behind those who had an active summer is shocking, but it makes sense. Activity for both the body and the mind is important during the long time away from school. Thanks for an interesting hub.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      RTalloni- I recently reconnected with my childhood best friend. We spent every cent we could come up with buying Nancy Drew books the library didn't have. When we talked on the phone some of the conversation was how we loved the little library that looked like a Swiss chalet. (In Oakland, California of all places) We carried 4 0r 5 books home every weekend from school. We read every moment we could, and we still played outside and had adventures with other kids. Thanks for visiting.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      This is a good time to consider these ideas--good things to think about ahead of time. For a period of time in my childhood my summer days consisted of swimming and reading books from the library, and I wouldn't trade all the iPads and similar stuff and such in the world for those days.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California


      Thanks for visiting. I hate seeing kids stuck gaming or watching T.V. H.J. spent a bunch of time watching airplanes at the airport while waiting for lunch. We had a blast watching the planes and his parents had a quiet time waiting for food.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I've always looked at summer for my daughter as a chance to pull ahead academically, explore the creative side with art, sports, wrting and photography, and go on family adventures near and far. I have always structured it somewhat, even generating fun assignments that we pull randomly from a jar. It has really helped her stay occupied and engaged. You're definitely singing my song.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      I always loved summer time. I loved being with the children and now I love being with the grandchildren. Having fun, laughing and doing together is so easy with simple things. Painting, running, gardening, drawing or photographing, making silly faces, who can find the most leaves/spot the most dogs/log the most cars/walk the furthest (no carrying!)..... the list goes on and many things apply just as well to older ones as to younger ones. I agree with you that costly things aren't always the best, in fact I think they're usually not the best!

      Great hub, full of great ideas and full of wisdom. Ann

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Sounds fun with best care and summer time is my best time to enjoy outdoors

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Very well written, informed and useful.

      Voted up and shared.


    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      Genna East, Thanks for visiting. Summer is just around the corner as time flies these days.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      kurlund, I don't think my parents were trying to give us great memories, they just did fun things. My dad was in his forties when I was born and we kept him young.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      The sounds of summer video was so enticing…only a few more months to go.

      Your suggestions are something I wished I had when my son was little. Wonderful ideas! :-)

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California


      I do too. Sometimes I see little kids holding onto mommy's shirt as she is talking on the phone and think,"All that potential just draining out of that little child". Hope your having a good day.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      Billy making memories with the grand kids is way more fun than raising the kids. It gives me an excuse to goof off:)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cool suggestions for parents. Thank goodness I no longer have to keep my son occupied during summer. It was fun but I have no desire to do it again. :)

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

      Great suggestions. I liked the part about giving our children great memories the best. I think this is a important thing to be able to look back and remember this things:)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Just the other day, I overheard two mothers discussing the need for help with the children during summer. Wish they could read this article. Voted useful!