Summer to me is bare feet and flip flops, bikes on the front lawn, swimming, Marco-polo in the pool, popsicles, watermelon, the smell of burgers on the grill, the tinny music of an ice cream truck, lightening bugs, fishing poles, the coconut scent of sunblock, capture the flag, flashlight tag, and freedom. Now that I am a mother, summer also means no alarm clocks, no packing lunches, no homework to correct, no carpools to remember, and no schedule to keep.

The best summer days bless me with four happy children, smiling, dirty and exhausted by nightfall. Yet, there are other days…

Days that are spent playing electronics cop, “No you may not play just one more game! Excuse me, TV IS an electronic! Yes, the computer is an electronic too! JUST GO OUTSIDE!!

Days that you wish you had a whistle and a referee jersey, “Hands to yourself! So what if she is smiling at you!?! God almighty, leave your brother alone! ALL Y’ALL JUST GO OUTSIDE!

And every single summer day, the kitchen has to be cleaned about a hundred times. Plus, the grocery bill goes up twenty-five percent. And the laundry… “Dude, your morning clothes still work after a trip to the pool; and hey, you used that towel once… just hang it up to dry.”

Those days are EXHAUSTING! I do not want to add “exhausted” to my list of summer associations. Therefore, over sixteen years of parenting, I’ve come up with some mommy tricks of the trade that work for my family.

FIVE WAYS TO END THE FIGHT

1. Summer wish list: Ask each child to list 10-15 things they want to do this summer. Let the sky be the limit: but instruct them to also include some reasonable wishes. The list helps you gauge expectations, allows the child a voice, is an exercise in writing, and gives mom lots of ideas for the upcoming weeks. In my experience the lists range from, “go out for ice cream,” to “go to Six Flags,” to “have a play-date with Dalton,” and everything in between. You will likely not check off every item, but you will have fun trying!

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2. Make them Earn Electronic Time: To determine how your children earn electronics, consider what is important to you. Do you want to make sure that daily summer reading is done with minimal argument? If so, you could reward completion with one hour of electronics. The same can be done with chores, exercise, kind deeds etc.
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3. Get out Early: Whereas up north, “JUST GO OUTSIDE!” is the summer battle cry of every mom, that doesn’t work as well in the dog days of a southern summer. So, get up and go to the pool, zoo, or park early. Then institute a relaxing mid-day and head back outside in the evening.
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4. Free is For Me: Keeping children entertained all summer can easily break the bank; it doesn’t have to. Local libraries host free events for all ages. Some libraries even offer free or discounted passes to area attractions. Many churches offer free or inexpensive camps and social events. Google your area and find out what your community has to offer, (North Texas parents see links at the end of this article).
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5. Get a job: No silly mommy, not you! Whether you work outside the home or not, you have enough to do. Your children should get a job. Although this is particularly important for teens (so they don’t sleep all day and eat all your food), younger children can earn summer spending money too.

Too young for a “real” job? Here are some ideas:

Pet Sitting for vacationing neighbors
Dog walking
Babysitting (younger children can offer mother’s helper hours)
Lawn care
Car wash services (include a vacuum, windows and detailing to make big $$)

Even too young for those ideas? Set up a chore chart in your home with dollar values. The optional chores included should be above and beyond regular chores. When children want money for the ice cream truck, they don’t have to ask you, just consult the chore charts and save up!

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If you try any of these tips OR have some tips of your own for a smooth sailing summer, please comment with your experience and your tips! Support the sanity of your fellow mommies!!

Links for North Texas summer fun: