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Surviving the Summer with Kids from For Whom The Bell Told

Summer: surviving your children and the stress that your house will undergo when it never gets a break from spills, messes, running, playing, ball tossing, and tantrum throwing all in the name of the season where it’s too hot to go outside and you’re too poor to go anywhere.
Surviving the Summer with Kids from For Whom The Bell Told

I love summer.

I really do.

I enjoy the lax schedule and lots of time on my hands never having to get anyone anywhere.

However, there would be a mutiny on my hands if I didn’t have some sort of agenda.

So here are my survival tips and tricks to not have a melt down of your own.

And you know you’ll want to.

Because you haven’t had a chocolate cupcake in days because it’s too hot to bake.

And you wouldn’t have any privacy to eat it by yourself anyway.

Here you go:
  • Find your local free lunch program.  Most cities have them.  Even our small town of 70,000 has one.  It’s a great way to help with the budget and a good reason to get out of the house.  And it doesn’t cost a thing.  It’s for ages 1-18.
  • Utilize the summer movie programs.  Lots of movie theaters have a summer movie program where they have older movies, at matinee times on certain days for $1.  Our movie theater has a deal where you can buy a pass at $5 for 10 movies.  That’s $.50 for two hours of entertainment per child.
  • Have a set cleaning day.  Because you don’t really want your kids to live in squalor, despite what they say.  We clean on Mondays, and it’s a lot of crying.  But it’s a good opportunity to teach kids what it takes to run a household.
  • Have set clean up times.  I have five kids.  I cannot remember the last time my house was tidy from top to bottom.  But I still believe it’s a good principle to encourage.  I don’t make my kids clean up all day.  Then I become a nag and am more worried about my house than is healthy.  Instead, we clean up once before lunch, and once before dinner.
  • Make your kids have quiet time.  After lunch, everyday, my kids take a break.  From me, from each other, and from toys.  I separate them into various locations {the youngest two still nap}, but the older three, even those who can’t read. grab books and are required to quietly look at them or read for at least 45 minutes.
  • Don’t eat lunch with your kids.  For real.  Feed them, clean up the kitchen, send them away from you and make something for yourself that will be warm when you eat it.  I read or watch a 30 minute show while I enjoy my lunch.  And by lunch, I mean a bowl of cornflakes.  With sugar.  And cream.  {Hey, I made it till lunch with no major fatalities.} 
  • Have lots of work for your kids to do.  This is super hard.  I am aware that making my children work is taking years off my life.  Years.  It’s agonizing.  But, it’s good for them.  I have also found that the more they work, the more they enjoy the time they get to play.  They’re so thrilled to not be scrubbing, vacuuming, folding, sweeping, wiping, picking up, tidying, or washing, that they forget to fight or be bored and just go play. 
  • Run your house like a school.  Whatever reward/disciplinary tactics your child’s teacher used, do that.  They’re already familiar with it and often know how to respond.  We did a ticket system last summer.  They earned tickets for good behavior, and could cash seven in for a toy from the box.  I kept them in my purse and in the car so they could always earn them.  I also tracked their behavior with clothespins and a poster board.Surviving the Summer with Kids from For Whom The Bell Told
Surviving the Summer with Kids from For Whom The Bell Told
  • Go to the library.  Often.
  • Let your kids do a lemonade stand.  My nine and seven year old did it for the first time this year.  It gave them something to focus on, work towards, compromise about, and get excited for.  My girls pooled their own money, rode their bikes to Wal Mart {which for the record, the husband was not thrilled I let them do, but it was good for their independence}, bought the lemonade mix, and got everything ready.  One year my oldest did a summer party.  She made invitations, handed them out/mailed them planned the activities {and by activities I mean drawing self portraits and putting the sprinkler under the trampoline} and got the treats ready.  It’s the same idea. 
Surviving the Summer with Kids from For Whom The Bell Told
  • Decide what you’ll do with your kids.  Summer is hard when it’s still busy for you and kids have too much time on their hands.  They often beg to do something with you.  Every minute of everyday.  Even when you’re in the bathroom.  I don’t do everything all the time with my kids.  I do some things some of the time.  Barbies?  No.  Craft?  Yes.  Babies?  Um, no.  Color?  Yes. 
  • Reward your children with candy and TV.  I’m a realist.  My kids will do about anything with a good attitude if there’s a Starburst at the finish line.  My kids watch about two hours a day.  One hour in the morning, one hour in the late afternoon.  I’m sure we’ll all survive to tell about it.
  • And this next one about kills me, I wake up before my kids.  I shower, do a little reading, get myself ready and tidy up the kitchen.  The day goes so much better for me.  I die a little inside each time I set the alarm clock for the next morning.  But so it goes.


  1. Love this list! I like the idea of using their teacher's discipline system. Having used them in the classroom, I honestly never thought to use them at home!

  2. great ideas....I kept a job jar...when/if (and actually it was rare) I heard the "I'm bored" sentence...they were invited to pick a slip of paper from the jar. It really worked...at least I almost never heard them whine about how bored they were. :) They probably were from time to time but were smart enough boys not to say it near their Mom who hated listening to that stuff!

  3. I like this list. I've been doing a variation of a lot of them. The getting up before them thing is still a work in progress... It's going well enough that I can say with honesty that I will miss them when they're in school.


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