Automatically Play Videos Below

Episode #71:

Yes! You’ve Got To Start Planning For Your Summer Now – And Here’s How

Listen to the episode on the podcast player above ⤴ or read the blog post on this topic below↴ 

Click here to subscribe

Why Planning Your Summer Now Can Make All the Difference

Ah, summer! It’s that sun-soaked time of year when school bells stop ringing and the days stretch lazily ahead. But if you’re like me, you know all too well how quickly the charm of an unstructured summer can fade into frustration. So today, I’m here to help you ensure your summer unfolds just as smoothly as you imagine.

As the school year winds down and those long summer days approach, we all relish the break from morning chaos and homework monitoring. It sounds delightful, doesn’t it? Yet, every summer, as the initial excitement wanes, many of us find ourselves caught in a mid-summer slump, feeling overwhelmed by the lack of structure and the frequent battles over screen time.

I’ve been right where you are. At the start of every summer, I would envision endless days of fun and bonding with my son and daughter. But reality often had other plans. “I’m bored,” and “What can we do today?” would quickly replace the joyful cheers that greeted the last day of school. And there I was, the stereotypical parent counting down the days until structure was reinstated.

It was exhausting, watching as each summer the progress my kids made during the school year seemed to evaporate into thin air. I couldn’t shake the feeling of disappointment seeing their potential go to waste. That’s why one summer, I decided enough was enough. Before the school year even ended, I laid out a plan for our summer — a plan focused on four key areas that would transform our break from a series of frustrations into a season of growth and enjoyment.

And guess what? It worked. Our summers changed dramatically, filled with activities that not only combated boredom but also played to my children’s strengths and interests. The constant cries of boredom dwindled, the allure of endless screen time lost its grip, and I finally started to enjoy summer again with my kids.

Now, my kids are grown up — my son is a prosecutor and my daughter is about to enter her second year of law school. Looking back, I firmly believe the structured summers we shared played a significant role in shaping the strong, fulfilling relationships we have today, not to mention helping them pursue their natural talents.

In this post, I’m excited to share the insights that transformed our summers. You’ll learn about the four crucial areas you need to plan for to ensure your summer is both enjoyable and enriching. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a working parent, or juggling multiple roles, these strategies are tailored just for you. Plus, I’ll be providing plenty of free resources throughout to help you along the way.

Ready to make this summer the best one yet? Let’s dive in and discover how you can create a summer that’s memorable for all the right reasons — no more summer slump!

Area #1: Developing Your Young Person’s Natural Strengths and Interests

Summer is a golden opportunity—when the academic pressures are off, and the days unfold with less structure. This gives your child or teen a chance to dive into what makes them tick. But without a plan, summer can easily devolve into the dreaded ‘Summer Slump.’

The Path of Least Resistance

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face this summer is something called the ‘Path of Least Resistance.’ This psychological principle explains why your child or teen will often opt for the easiest path. During summer, this often means preferring to stay home and just ‘chill.’ While lounging around all day might sound appealing, it’s not the best thing for your young person’s development.

My Experience with My Son

Take my son Patrick, for instance. In 8th grade, his ideal summer day included sleeping in, snacking endlessly, and playing video games. While relaxing is important, I knew he needed a balance of activities that also fostered his personal growth.

That summer, I focused on creating a balanced schedule that included both relaxing and enriching activities. Patrick, who loved reading about Star Wars and dragons, began writing his own fan fiction. This new hobby not only combated his boredom but also improved his self-confidence and writing skills.

Key Focus Areas

Without your guidance, the path of least resistance leads to inactivity. Here are three key focus areas to avoid the summer slump:

  1. Growing your young person’s natural strengths and interests: Summer is the perfect time to explore and expand on what your child or teen is naturally drawn to.
  2. Emphasizing balance: While downtime is wonderful, balancing it with activities that feed their minds and spirits is equally important.
  3. Modeling the value of lifelong learning: Show that summer can be a time for both relaxation and personal development.

5 Tips to Get Started

Here are 5 tips to help you get started:

  1. Identify and Focus on a Key Personal Skill: Consider a personal skill your child or teen could improve this summer, like social skills or self-esteem. Organize activities that provide a safe space for practice and development.
  2. Schedule Time for Offline Activities: Plan consistent daily time for offline activities such as reading, drawing, or playing a musical instrument.
  3. Enroll your young person in Structured Activities: Structured activities like dance classes or sports camps combine fun with learning.
  4. Explore Local Opportunities: Look for workshops, classes, and events in your community that can serve as excellent venues for your child or teen to explore new interests.
  5. If you have a teenager, encourage them to get a summer job: Summer jobs teach responsibility, money management, and work ethics. For more strategies, check out Episode #13 of the podcast and the blog post “6 Steps to Encouraging a Resistant Teen to Get a Summer Job.”

These tips should help you start using the summer to work on your young person’s natural strengths and interests. For further help discovering these strengths and talents, check out this free resource Help Your Child Find Their Passions and Interests.

The Goal

Remember, the goal isn’t to overload your young person but to provide them with opportunities to develop in enjoyable and fulfilling ways. By helping them balance relaxation with productive activities, you’re investing in their growth as individuals.

Area #2: Building or Repairing Your Relationship

Why Summer is the Perfect Time

Summer is a great time to build or repair your relationship with your child or teen. With a break from the school year hustle, you have the opportunity to spend quality time together.

Nurturing Your Bond

Maybe your relationship is already strong. Summer is the perfect season to deepen those connections, sharing laughs and creating cherished memories. But, let’s be real, relationships aren’t always perfect. Maybe you’ve hit a rough patch, or perhaps shared custody means you don’t see your young person as much as you’d like. Summer offers extra time to smooth things over and strengthen your bond.

Personalized Activities

I recommend doing fun things together as a family, but also making special time for each of your kids alone. For example, one of my parent coaching clients finds special activities that match each of her two kids’ interests. With her son, she goes hiking every weekend because he loves being outdoors. With her daughter, she started a book club since they both love reading. These moments show her kids she loves spending time with them and cares about what they care about.

Hands-On Tips

How can you make this summer a time to grow closer and build happy memories? Here are a few hands-on tips:

  1. Dive into Their Interests: It’s more than just showing up; it’s about getting involved. For example, another mom I worked with discovered her teen loved making jewelry. They ended up starting an Etsy store together, which turned into a thriving business and a great way to spend time together.
  2. Share Your Interests or Start a New Hobby Together: Maybe you love gardening or painting. Invite your child or teen to join you. Or start a new activity together! How about a pottery class or learning a new language? It’s all about spending quality time and growing together.
  3. Start a Summer-Long Project: Think about a big project that gives you an excuse to have consistent time with your child or teen. For example, my kids and I once planted vegetable plants from seeds and kept a daily observation journal. This project not only taught them about gardening but also gave us fun, shared experiences.

Additional Resources

These activities aren’t just about having fun; they’re ways to show your young person that you value their company and their interests. Whether you’re exploring a hobby they love, sharing your passion, or tackling a big project together, these shared experiences can significantly strengthen your relationship.

If you want to dive deeper into exploring more ways to improve your parent-child relationship this summer, I’ve got some resources that can really help:

  • Podcast Episode #17: Challenging Parent-Child Relationship? Try These 6 Strategies To Improve This Important Relationship In Just One Summer
  • Podcast Episode #38: Stay Sane This Summer: Summer Strategies For Parents That Build Positive Parent-Child Relationships, Encourage Independence, and Create Lifelong Memories
  • Court-Approved Online Co-Parenting Class: Relationship Repair Co-Parenting Course, which provides tools to improve your parent-child relationship and your relationship with your co-parent.
  • Downloadable PDF Guide: How To Have Difficult Conversations With Your Tween or Teen, which can help you tackle tough talks in a way that respects their feelings and encourages openness.

The Goal

Remember, this summer is more than just a chance to relax; it’s an opportunity to lay the foundation for a lasting, loving relationship with your young person. The effort you put into connecting this summer can shape the wonderful relationship you and your child or teen will enjoy for years to come.

Area #3: Setting Up a Successful Summer Routine

The Importance of a Summer Routine

Now that we’ve talked about developing your young person’s strengths and interests, and the importance of building or repairing your relationship with them, let’s dive into the third important area: Setting Up A Successful Summer Routine.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: smart parenting leans heavily on routines and rituals. With the regular school schedule on pause, establishing a summer routine is more important than ever.

Why Routines Matter

Why, you ask? Routines during summer are key for a couple of big reasons:

  1. Predictability: Routines give everyone a clear understanding of what’s expected of them and when. This predictability helps reduce stress and confusion, making daily life smoother for both you and your young person.
  2. Consistent Connection: Routines ensure that time with your child or teen isn’t lost in the shuffle of busy summer days. It’s too easy to push those precious moments aside when life ramps up or fatigue sets in. A solid routine means family time is non-negotiable.

By setting up a structured yet flexible summer routine, you’re not just filling time—you’re enhancing your young person’s sense of security and belonging. This structure helps them balance fun with relaxation and productive activities, which, as we’ve already talked about, is important for a fulfilling summer.

Creating Your Summer Routine

So now, you might be wondering how to create a summer routine that fits your busy life. Maybe you work full or part-time, share custody with your ex, or simply just don’t like being tied down by a strict schedule. No worries—I’ve got some straightforward strategies that are perfect for you. Stick with me, and let’s figure out how to keep everyone happy and engaged through those long summer days.

The most important tip for creating a successful summer routine is to keep it flexible. Too much rigidity can lead to frustration, which is the last thing we want in a season meant for some easygoing fun. Here’s how you can set up a summer routine that blends necessary activities with the laid-back vibe of summer:

Tips for a Flexible Summer Routine

  1. Create a Loose Schedule: Avoid planning every minute of the day. Think in terms of blocks or chunks of time dedicated to different types of activities. This approach gives you flexibility but keeps everyone on track.

  2. Include These Essential Time Chunks:

    • Connection Time: This is when your young person has an opportunity to connect with others—family or friends. This could be as simple as allocating time after dinner each evening to play a board game or take a walk outside. It could also be an organized activity like soccer practice or dance class. The important thing is that there should be a chunk of time each day devoted to being off screens and interacting face-to-face with others.
    • Responsibilities Time: Set aside time for chores or other responsibilities. This teaches your young person that they are an important part of the family and have a role to play. By ensuring your child or teen has a daily chore, not only does it teach them responsibility, but it also helps you feel less frustrated.
    • Self-Care Time: Time devoted to showering, brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc. Left to their own devices, many kids and teens won’t take the time for self-care activities. Making sure there is a chunk of time for these activities teaches them that this is an important part of life.
    • Hobbies and Interests Time: This is when your young person disconnects from screens and participates in their natural strengths and interests. Allow them to explore their passions, whether that’s painting, coding, or playing music.
    • Movement Time: Incorporate physical activity, which could be anything from a family bike ride to a daily walk around the neighborhood, or an impromptu soccer game in the backyard. It’s important that kids and teens get at least a half hour of movement each day to stay healthy.
    • Downtime: This is free time where your child or teen can choose what they want to do—no strings attached. It’s important to allow them this freedom without judgment.
  3. Make It Predictable and Easy to Follow: While the schedule is loose, having predictable times for these activity chunks helps everyone know what’s expected and when. For instance, you might decide that mornings after breakfast are for self-care and responsibilities, followed by a mid-morning snack and then some downtime. Afternoons can be for hobbies and movement, with evenings winding down with reading and more relaxed downtime. This predictable rhythm helps reduce chaos and ensures that each important aspect of their daily routine is met.

The Benefits of a Summer Routine

Setting up a summer routine like this not only provides structure for your young person’s day—it also helps them develop time management skills and understand the importance of balancing the many aspects of their lives. Plus, it takes the guesswork out of the day for you, making it easier to manage your own schedule alongside theirs.

Remember, the key to a successful summer routine is flexibility paired with consistency. By structuring your days around these broad time blocks, you ensure that all critical activities are covered without the stress of a rigid timetable.

Additional Resources

If you want to dive deeper into establishing effective routines and schedules this summer, I’ve got some resources that can really help:

  • Podcast Episode #42: How Establishing Family Routines and Rituals Can Help Modern Parents Overcome Overwhelm, Stress, and DisconnectionListen here
  • Article: Yes! Your Child and Teen Needs a Summer Sleep Schedule! Here’s Why and How To Create OneRead here
  • Guide: Summer Schedule Planner GuideDownload here

These resources will help you create a summer routine that keeps everyone happy, engaged, and productive.

Area #4: Building and Nurturing Connections Beyond Close Family

The Importance of a Broader Community

The fourth and final focus for this summer is building and nurturing connections beyond just your closest friends and family. When I say “community,” I’m talking about a vibrant mix of individuals who share interests, support one another, and truly belong together. It’s about feeling connected to something bigger than ourselves, which is a vital experience for young people.

Why Community Matters

Why is this important? Research shows that when young people feel they fit into a community, are valued by its members, and can share their unique talents, it boosts their self-esteem, motivation, and ability to connect with others. It helps them realize the world is a two-way street—full of giving and taking, not just receiving.

Let’s break down why expanding your young person’s social horizons is so crucial:

  1. Broadens Their Sense of Community: Feeling part of a broader group boosts self-esteem and shows your young person that the world isn’t just about them. This can be a real eye-opener and a boost for their personal growth.
  2. Challenges the Path of Least Resistance: It’s comfy and easy to stick with what you know. Many kids and teens tend to hang back in their safe zones, chatting online with friends they already know. But nudging your young person out of that nest and encouraging them to meet new people this summer is crucial. Yes, it might feel awkward at first, but stretching their social muscles is how they grow stronger in their social skills.
  3. Teaches Valuable Social Skills: Many young folks are scared of new social situations and prefer waiting for someone else to make the first move. Encourage your child or teen to take the initiative—practice makes perfect! They can start small, like asking someone new about their favorite movie or sharing a little about their hobbies. These are the stepping stones to building lasting friendships.
  4. Highlights the Importance of In-Person Relationships: Online friends are great, but nothing matches the depth of face-to-face interactions. There’s something about seeing someone’s smile in real time or sharing a laugh that just can’t be replicated on a screen. Young people are great at digital friendships but sometimes need a gentle push to remember the joy of in-person connections.

Who to Reach Out To

Now that we’ve covered why it’s so crucial to connect with others beyond your closest circles, you might be wondering who to reach out to this summer. Expanding your young person’s network doesn’t just enrich their social skills—it can transform their summer into an adventure of growth and new friendships. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Grandparents or Elderly Relatives: Plan a visit to see grandparents or invite an elderly relative for lunch. They’ve got stories that could rival any Netflix drama and are eager to share them with someone who’ll listen.
  • Old Friends Who’ve Moved Away: Reconnect with friends who’ve moved to a new town. A quick visit or a well-planned video call can reignite old friendships and show your young person the value of keeping in touch.
  • Acquaintances You’d Like to Know Better: Summer is the perfect season for new beginnings. Think about those folks you’ve met along the way who caught your interest—maybe someone from community events or a parent you’ve seen at school functions. Reach out and plan a casual meet-up, like a picnic in the park or a coffee catch-up. Demonstrating how you can take a spark of curiosity and fan it into the flame of friendship is a powerful lesson for your young person.

The Goal

By planning how you will connect with others this summer, you’re doing more than just filling up your child or teen’s social diary—you’re giving them invaluable lessons in social skills and helping them feel like an important part of the bigger picture. The effort you put into expanding your young person’s community interactions this summer can significantly impact their development and overall happiness. You’re helping them build a foundation for successful, fulfilling relationships that could last a lifetime.

The Take-Home Message

The key takeaway from today is that you have the power to shape this summer into either a fantastic season or a frustrating and wasteful one for you and your family. While planning a vacation is wonderful, it’s the little, everyday moments that also need your thoughtful planning. This isn’t just about filling up the calendar; it’s about creating meaningful experiences that will stay with you and your young person for years to come.

By being intentional about how you spend this summer, you’re not just making memories—you’re building a foundation of joy and connection that truly embodies what parenting is all about. You’ll look back on this summer not only with fondness but with the pride of knowing you made it special.