Wondering how to thrive (and not merely survive) this summer with your boys? Keep reading, or listen to the podcast episode below:
Summer is Here! Will You Cheer or Fear?
How do you feel about summer vacation? Some of you may be looking forward to lazy days, fun trips to the beach, and more family time. But others of you may be dreading the impending battles over screen time, sibling rivalry and late bedtimes.
In this episode of Redeeming the Chaos, I will share with you some practical tips to help you have an amazing summer with a household of boys.
This episode is a combination of several episodes I have published over the past few years, all having to do with surviving and thriving during the summer months with our boys.
We are only two days into summer time, and I’m already frustrated with the whining and bickering between siblings. So this episode is for my benefit as much as it is for yours! Lest you think my household is perfect and I have it all together … I do not. I’m in the trenches right here with you, Mommas. I often have to go back and listen to previous episodes of Redeeming the Chaos to remind myself of how to deal with the chaos of a household of boys!
10 Tips for an Amazing Summer With Your Boys
If you want to survive and thrive this summer with a house full of boys, it is all about expectations. Your kids likely have different expectations for what their summer will look like than you do! So start out the summer with a family meeting to discuss what your expectations are, so that everyone will be on the same page.
And while it’s important to communicate your own expectations with your boys, you also need to hold those expectations lightly. Be flexible. Don’t worry if things don’t go exactly as you had planned. Learn to laugh at yourself and enjoy the young men God has given you.
But hey, it doesn’t hurt to at least start with a plan, right? Here are 10 tips to help you survive and thrive this summer.
Tip #1: Create a Schedule
I would recommend creating a daily schedule, as well as a weekly or monthly calendar. Post both in a prominent place that your kids can see and refer to throughout the day.
For the monthly calendar, include any extra activities that aren’t in a typical day… going to the pool, going on vacation, going to Grandma’s house, etc. (Below is our family calendar for 2022… still need to make one for 2023!) Also, super easy to make on Canva… for free!
The daily schedule will be the same every day, except for the special days when your’e going on vacation or you will be away from home.
Next, decide what you want to include in your daily schedule. This doesn’t have to be super rigid, and you don’t have to plan out every minute of the day, but it’s helpful to set the expectations at the beginning of the summer for what you want to accomplish in a day.
Here are some suggestions of things you may want to include in your schedule. You certainly do not have to include all these things! Pick and choose what works best for your family.
- Family devotions
- Reading Time – personal or family read-alouds
- Breakfast as a family?
- TV time – when, how much? Mandatory outside time
- Honor jobs
- Personal Bible reading
- General Clean-up
Below is an example of our daily routine. (This was last summer… again, still working on one for this year!)
Tip #2: Set expectations for technology this summer with your boys
I know most of my kids would play video games or watch TV all day if I let them. Which of course, I do not. But it’s important to set expectations ahead of time to avoid meltdowns and arguments later on.
Here are some questions to think about when setting guidelines for technology:
- When, where, and how much time can they be on a device?
- If everyone’s watching TV together, who gets to pick the show? Maybe set up a schedule.
- Do you want to set any “screen free” days as a family?
- Plan family movie nights where you can all watch something and discuss it together. Analyzing a movie is a great way to help your kids think critically about what they’ve seen, and whether or not the message of the movie lines up with your own beliefs and biblical worldview. Listen to THIS EPISODE of Redeeming the Chaos for tips on how to do that!
- Once you’ve decided on technology guidelines, consider creating a technology contract that all the kids have to sign. If they choose not to sign it, then they don’t get the privilege of using the technology. It’s that simple.
What if they put up a fight?
Spoiler Alert: They will.
Don’t be surprised if you get push back from your kids when trying to set up schedules and guidelines for your summer. Here are a few quick tips for what to do if your kids push back:
- Don’t take it personally.
- Remember, you are the parent and it’s your job to set rules and regulations in your household in the best interest of your children.
- Your job is not to make your kids happy. It’s your job to raise them to be civilized adults who don’t sit in front of the TV all day.
- Setting expectations at the beginning of the summer will help things go more smoothly.
- Stand your ground. Don’t yell and get upset, but be firm in your decision.
- By setting guidelines and expectations, you are training your kids to live within boundaries. It’s a skill they’ll have to use for the rest of their lives. If your son has a hard time accepting “No” as an answer, you might need to say “no” more often, so he learns the correct way to respond when he doesn’t get his own way.
Check out THIS EPISODE of Redeeming the Chaos for tips on what to do if your son won’t take “No” for an answer.
Okay, back to our list of tips:
Tip #3: Spend time in God’s Word this Summer with Your Boys
We’ve talked on the show before about the importance of spending time in God’s word, both as a family as well as personally.
As moms, if we are not filled with the Spirit of God, through the Word of God, then we will become dry, empty vessels with nothing left to give to our children.
So, make a plan to spend time in God’s word. I have several recommendations of where to start for your personal time with God…
- The Bible Recap
- Thirsty: 12 Weeks of Drinking Deeply from God’s Word – by Hannah C. Hall.
For family devotions, I would recommend that you join me for the Family Fruit Challenge this summer. We hosted this challenge the past few summers, and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback. To find out more about the Family Fruit Challenge, just go to www.FamilyFruitChallenge.com to sign up.
What’s Included in the Family Fruit Challenge?
- A short, weekly devotional about one of the fruits of the Spirit, contributed by 9 different guest writers (10 weeks total, including intro), delivered straight to your inbox!
- Printable memory verse cards about the fruit of the week.
- Printable “Fruit” cards to display in your home.
- Links to activities, songs, games, and crafts that will help your children learn about the fruit of the week.
- Ideas to help motivate your kids to put into practice what they’ve learned.
- Oh, and by the way, it’s totally FREE!
When you sign up for the challenge, you’ll receive a reminder email every Monday morning for 10 weeks. The email will include a link to the blog post for the week where you’ll find the devotional, printable verse cards and activities!
No matter when you sign up, you’ll always start with Week 1 and continue through week 10.
To sign up for the challenge, go to FamilyFruitChallenge.com. Feel free to tell your friends!
One of the other things I want to do as a family this summer is to watch the show The Chosen, the TV series about the life of Jesus. I’ve heard so many great things about it, and it’s been on my list of things I want to watch for a long time now. There are 15 episodes in Season 1, I think this would be a great show to watch once or twice a week throughout the summer as a family.
Granted, you need to decide if your kids are at the right ages to watch The Chosen. My boys are 7, 8, 11 and 12 right now.
Tip #4: Meal Planning
I will be the first to admit that I am not great at meal planning. A typical day for me looks like… staring at the freezer around 5:00 p.m., grabbing an unidentified hunk of meat, and trying to defrost it in the fastest way possible. Which has often involved breaking the tip off of one of my paring knives, as I try to chop a frozen hunk of chicken. When my kids ask what we’re having for dinner, I have to tell them that I won’t know until it’s finished. “Chicken Miscellaneous” is what we often call it.
However, I have found that my life is much less stressful when I actually DO take the time to plan ahead for meals. And actually stick with the schedule. Some of the benefits of meal planning include:
- Your kitchen knives are all intact–with the point and everything!
- Your kids can prepare themselves mentally for whatever you’re having for dinner.
- Dinner might actually get onto the table before 7:30 p.m. (which then allows you to get the kids in bed sooner, which then allows you to drink a glass of wine with your hubby and watch your favorite show on Hulu).
- You won’t have to send your hubby out to the grocery store at the last minute for a jar of salsa.
- Oh, the benefits are endless. 🙂
The times I have been consistent with meal planning, I have printed out a calendar for the entire month. Then, I make a list of 20 meals, 5 per week. I would repeat those same 20 meals the next month, and so on.
If you really want to simplify things for this summer with your boys, you could choose 5 meals and just repeat those meals (or variations) every week. For example, Monday could be meat on the grill, Tuesday is Mexican, Wednesday is breakfast for dinner, etc. You could still add in some variety to your week by making chicken fajitas one week and beef tacos the next.
Another way to simplify meal prep is to get the kids involved. If your boys are old enough, why not put one of them in charge of a meal each week? I think boys as young as 8 or 9, depending on the maturity of your son, could learn how to make a simple meal for the family. You could even assign several different meals to different kids.
Tip #5: Be a Local Tourist
Have you ever been a tourist in your own city or town? What historical or cultural landmarks are nearby, or within a few hours from you? Try planning a field trip this summer with your boys! You could make it educational by borrowing books from the library to learn about the place beforehand. If you’re not sure where to start, try going to the visitor center for your city. I bet there are all sorts of cool places around town that you’ve never discovered.
I live in Amish country in southern Pennsylvania. A few years ago, my mom and I took my boys and their cousins to visit a local tourist venue called “The Amish Farm and House.” In over four decades of living in my city, I had never been there before! We all had a great time learning about Amish culture.
One of the things my husband and I plan to do this summer is to take a day trip to Washington D.C. with our boys. We live about 2.5 hours from the capital. We plan to visit the national monuments as well as the museums at the Smithsonian institute. And the best part is, it’s all free! We only have to pay for transportation and food. I just ordered a book on Amazon about the Smithsonian. I’m excited to read it with my kids before we go.
So, what local treasures can you explore in your town?
Tip #6 Get outside this summer with your boys
The outdoors does wonders for our boys. It provides endless hours of fresh air, sunshine, and much needed physical activity. I would suggest putting “outdoor time” into your daily schedule. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day, but at some point during the day, everyone must go outside to play for at least an hour.
In addition to daily outdoor time, try to plan outdoor adventures throughout the summer. My family loves to find local creeks and go creek stomping on hot summer days. We also have a lot of rail trails in our area that are a great way to get some exercise and go exploring.
Other ideas for outdoor activities include:
- Rock climbing
- Kayaking or canoeing
- Swimming (in a local lake, river, stream or pool)
Encourage kids to keep an eye out for interesting plants or bugs or wild animals. You could even have a scavenger hunt to see who can check the most things off their list.
Tip #7: Go on dates this summer with your boys
If you don’t put it on your calendar, it likely won’t happen! Not only is it important to go on dates with your husband and build a strong marriage, but it’s also fun to take your boys on dates! They’ll love the individual time with you. Maybe take them out for ice cream or a slushy. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Then just let him talk. Listen to him. Let him know how much you love spending time with him. Ask him how you can be a better mom.
But the dates don’t always have to be with mom! Encourage Dad to take your son on a camping or fishing trip. Ask Grandma or Grandpa if they can hang out with just one of your boys at a time. It’s amazing what different character qualities you’ll see in your son when you spend one-on-one time with him.
Tip #8: Get up early
I am not an early bird. I love staying up late watching TV with my hubby or snuggling in bed with a good book. And I often have to drag myself out of bed in the morning.
But, those mornings that I am able to set my alarm and wake up before the rest of my family, are just golden. My day always goes so much better when I am not rolling out of bed at the same time as (or sometimes later than!) my kids. There’s just something so fulfilling about drinking a hot cup of coffee and reading my Bible in the quiet of the early morning. I know it’s possible. I’ve done it before. But it does take some discipline to get to bed at a decent hour, and then be consistent about getting out of bed before my boys.
So, what will it take for you to get up early? Maybe you need to set an alarm in the evening to remind yourself to go to bed. Maybe you need to make plans with a neighbor to go for a walk in the morning. Nothing gets me out of bed quicker than knowing someone is waiting for me!
Tip #9: Create an “I’m bored” list
I know you’re all dreading the inevitable moment, merely hours into the first day of summer with your boys… and someone has the nerve to say it: “I’m bored!”
How are you going to respond? What are you going to do?
Here’s one idea: Make a list of activities for kids to do when they’re bored. Activities could include both fun things as well as chores. Things like: Read a book, draw a picture, build with legos, weed the garden, clean the toilet, wash windows, etc.
Write each idea on an individual craft stick, and put all the sticks in a jar. Then, whenever one of your boys complains of being bored, they have to pull a stick out of the jar. It might be something fun that they enjoy doing, OR it might be doing some extra work around the house.
Let your kids know what the expectations are, so they’re not caught off guard. And if you’re feeling gracious, you could always give them one warning. “Oh, you’re bored? Well, I’d be happy to pull a stick out of the jar for you.” I bet they’ll find something to do pretty quickly.
Tip #10: Get Help
Girl, you do not have to do this alone! If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by all these suggestions, take a deep breath. You don’t have to do them all, and you don’t have to do them all yourself.
It’s okay to ask for help! It’s okay to take a break. In fact, it’s necessary. Do you have family nearby who can take the kids for an afternoon? Is there a teenager at your church who would like some extra income to watch your kids for an evening so you and your husband can go out on a date?
Maybe you could do a “kid-swap” with a friend. You take her kids one morning, and she takes your kids another morning. Does the idea of having twice as many kids in your house overwhelm you? I have a secret : the more kids there are to play with, the more they will all entertain themselves and the more work you can get done!
There is no shame at all in asking for help. Maybe this is the summer that you hire someone to come clean your house for you. Totally okay.
BONUS TIP: Celebrate Milestones
We’ve talked before on the show about the importance of celebrating milestones in our boys lives. What milestones will your boys be reaching this summer? Is he graduating from elementary school? Entering ? Starting Kindergarten? I’ve included a link to an episode below, about celebrating milestones in our sons’ journey to manhood.
Want more more summer survival tips?
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