My Due Article, Take 3…

By: Stephanie Reynolds

Hello, my fabulous folk! It’s Friday, my article is due, and I’m in a quandary.

I am thinking of each of you. I want to reach out to the moms to help them plan a fun summer for the kids and a relaxing summer for themselves.

I want to reach out to those who are going to have guests — how to let people into your home without stress.

I want to reach out to those who will be houseguests, so they can be the best houseguests ever, the kind that are eagerly invited back.

And I want to address all of those TODAY because summer is short and I don’t want to be in August and then say, “Okay, moms! Here’s how to keep your summer calm!” I’d then be hunted down like a big dawg because I’m 6 weeks too late (I’d deserve it!). But staying sane when people come visit you is also huge! (Y’all are really fabulous and very genteel and well-mannered so I bet you don’t need my tips for being a good house guest, so that’s one we can scratch off the list for today.)

Okay, I think I’ll start with the moms. Here are a few ideas to keep your summer not just endured but FUN!

1. Let you and the kids rest and decompress the first week. Let them know clearly they are free for one week, and then you have a great plan for the rest of the summer. They (and you!) have worked hard for 10 months. All y’all take a week off. You earned it. Sleep in, watch TV, hang out in PJs all day, easy food, etc. It’s your staycation!

2. Make a schedule. Kids go from having to ask to use the bathroom for 10 months to suddenly having to develop the work ethic and time management skills of a Fortune 500 CEO. Make it a fun schedule! But make it stick.

3. Set wake times and sleep times, not even giving in on the weekends. A messed up sleep schedule makes meltdowns. A hint for getting them in bed that also makes them feel like they are getting a win is tell them they have to go to bed BUT they can stay up a WHOLE HOUR to read a book (not screen)…IF they get in bed on time.

4. Start the day together with no phones (even yours!) Enjoy the breakfast together. Have a breakfast picnic on the porch, sprinkles on everything, and serve their milk with curly straws or out of pretty tea cups. Make it fun!

5. Help kids by liming choices, especially when they need to do chores. Give them a choice of 2 things. For example “Do you want to draw with sidewalk chalk or do you want to run in the sprinkler?” “Do you want to do your math worksheet or do you want to read a chapter?” “Do

you want to learn to crochet or do you want to learn how to code?” “Do you want to clean the bathroom for your chore or the living room?” Giving them choices helps them feel in control.

6. Provide a theme for the summer. It could be sports, McGyver skills, arts, music, etc. Everything doesn’t have to be only that theme, but it helps you and them have a roadmap. You can make it something you love too!

7. Don’t pack their days. Let them have time to play. Also be ready for hearing, “I’m bored!” Counter with, “If I have to choose something for you to do, it’s probably going to be a chore. Do you want that or do you want to try again to find something to do?”

8. Have a box or jar of “Things To Do.” Make them fun. Maybe even throw in “1 hour of screen time” or whatever they like. Even if you have a chore, make it a treat with: “Clean your room by doing these steps <list them>. THEN have ice cream (or get a prize).” Be sure to include thinking activities like: “Make something out of 2 cardboard tubes, a bag of cotton balls, and a shoelace” or “Using only things in this drawer, make a way for this ping-pong ball to travel across the room without you touching it.” These will help with creativity and problem-solving skills, which is HUGELY necessary. There are indications that gen alphas will be great with tech but lack creativity.

9. Any chores that you want them to do, make the steps SPECIFIC, set a time limit, and make the time short enough that they feel like it’s a race — “Ok, you have 10 minutes to pick up all the clothes from the floor and put all the books in the shelves. Ready? GO!” Even we adults get overwhelmed looking at a room we have to clean. Make it EASY for your children to do what you need them to do.

10. Make the summer a place for you and your children to thrive together. Your family is more important than any outside work or charity. It is okay for you to tell everyone outside your household, “This is the summer of us!” Limit your outside engagements or make them ones the kids can do with you. Let them learn you as a person, not just mom. Learn them as people not just “the kids.” It is a good thing to give you and them space to have a beautiful, relaxing summer together.

Love y’all! Have fun!

By: Stephanie Reynolds, Athens-Limestone Tourism Association