As my kids were growing up, summer was always my happy place. Something about throwing that school schedule out the window was my favorite. It was just us and that summer stretched out in front of us. But as much as I loved that freedom, I also wanted my kids to be productive. I had a hard time if they were sitting around watching tv (still do). Summer is such an incredible time to learn and grow! So let’s talk about how to help kids be productive in the summertime.
Those kids look immensely excited about the productivity, don’t you think? HA! But I’ll tell you what, there’s nothing better than the glow of your child after a summer of productivity, even when it’s taken putting in some tough work.
When they put in the work to grow and “become” in the summer, they become more self-confident and sure of themselves. Which, of course, adds to all the other aspects of their lives.
8 ideas to help your kids be independently productive in the summer
Set up summertime expectations
Work together as a family to set up expectations. You may find that you and your kids may have wildly different ideas of what is going to happen this summer. Your spouse may have his own take as well. So it’s so important to get on the same page. Have a family meeting and talk all these expectations over so you can make decisions that work for all of you. I never did this, but I think it would be so fun to have a special candlelit dinner welcoming in summer surrounding this conversation.
Have your kids make their own schedules and goals
If your children are teenagers and have jobs, this is a no-brainer. They have to make their own schedules or they’ll get fired.
But I think letting younger kids have ownership of their schedules in the summer is pretty awesome too. It’s such a great training ground for life. You as the parent may need to rein in their ideas a tad!
In our family we always set a precedent that all the “have-to-dos” had to be done before the “choose-to-dos.” This is a little example of the school-year “have-to-dos” on the left, and how it switches up a little in the summertime on the right:
Summer goals are a great way to help keep kids productive.
Each summer our kids have come up with goals as to how they want to progress. We usually use the “five-facets” as our guide and make goals in all of these categories:
We attach some sort of reward (monetary or quality time), as a “carrot” to help keep the motivation going.
I’m so grateful my parents worked with us to create our own unique goals in the summertime growing up for so many years, and that we’re passing them on to the next generation.
Help your kids figure out ways to earn money
Summer can be the best breeding ground for learning to earn money. Whether it’s a real-live job or coming up with something on their own, kids are so capable!
I’ve loved to see the innovative ideas these kids have come up with through the years, from lemonade stands:
To teaching gymnastics/dance classes:
To us employing them to do things we needed done:
I loved especially those dance/gym/babysitting days where the kids made up flyers and handed them out in the neighborhoods trying to recruit clients. So good for them!
My very wise sister Saren has put together a whole “do-it-yourself summer camp” that outlines so many ways to do this that you should check out!
Make sure kids are pitching in
Not only is it important for your sanity to have kids help keep the house in tact in the summer, but summer is the best wide-open training ground for job skills.
I think sometimes we SO underestimate the things that kids can do to help! I love this picture of my cute little nephews working their hearts out to do the reunion dinner dishes:
A really great book that outlines various jobs kids can do at which ages is The Parenting Breakthrough. So good!
These are some of the things that helped us so much as we worked to get kids to pitch in:
- Job jar (a jar filled up with jobs for when kids “need a little extra responsibility” 🙂 We added some pretty funny ideas along with the regular jobs to keep it fun.
- Job chart with bubbles (another helpful way to help kids know expectations).
- The Timer – helps to get everyone involved and working together.
- “Clean 10” where before we leave the house, or any time for that matter, I yell out “Clean Ten!” The kids know exactly what to do, they scramble to pick up and put away ten things. It is really quite magical I have to say!
- Make and clean up dinner together. Most summers our kids have had goals to take turns cooking for the family. In my book, there is nothing like having time to devote to being in the kitchen with kids.
Put away technology
- The best gift you can give yourself as a mother is to put away your phone. Especially in the summer. You only have 18 summers with those precious kids at home. Make the most of it!
- It’s important to add something in when you take something out. So when we take out technology we always try to add in things. I think summer goals help add in good stuff. Reading is a huge thing to “add in” as well. Check out my favorite books for young readers if you want book ideas!
Provide opportunities for kids to look out for each other
Summer is such a great time to try to help kids nurture their sibling relationships. I love these ideas to help with that nurturing:
If you have multiple kids, assign them to be each other’s helpers. They can help each other stay on track with schedules as well as goals. In doing so, you are giving your children so many amazing gifts! You are teaching responsibility, fostering sibling relationships, teaching independence and nurturing. Of course, you’re also taking off part of your heavy burden.
Assigning Tutors and Tutees is another pretty spectacular idea from my parents. Growing up as the second oldest in a family of nine, I loved getting new sibling “tutee” assignments each month.
Of course with all the family togetherness in the summer there is bound to be some fighting. Another awesome way to foster sibling relationships in the summer is to have a “repenting bench.” Such a great way for kids to take ownership of their arguments and work them out together.
- WORK TOGETHER TOWARDS GOALS
Whether it’s working to together to beat the timer while cleaning the kitchen or learning a new skill, it’s always better to do it together!
I love when my kids’ summer goals have included helping each other out, whether teaching a younger sibling to read, working together on a project, etc.
One of my favorite years of summer goals was a year that our kids decided to work together for something rather than working alone. They had stars in their eyes about “Rockband,” and they worked their tails off to make sure they were all on track. Nothing better when kids are each other’s cheerleaders.
Remember to work in FUN.
Sometimes we forget first of all that work can be fun.
The “job jar” mentioned above helps in the making-work-fun category:
But we also forget, in all the scheduling and expectations hullabaloo, that summer is also the best time to SLOW DOWN.
In the slowing down, and even the boredom sometimes, kids get creative.
How awesome to have some time not filled up with homework and studying to just relax a little.
And connect with those kids of yours.
Yes, summertime is pretty awesome.