So, the summer weather is making the kids cranky yet? Are they already complaining that they are bored? Are they ambushing you daily with requests/pleas for sleepovers, movies, fast food trips, and more? You know the phrase "getting your ducks in a row"??? Between their behaviors, their begging, their whining, and more I sometimes feel that instead of a family of ducks to manage I am overrun by ducks. I have found this strategy helps me confident that by the end of the summer each child will have gotten to do at least some of what they wanted.
Start lining up all the voices, and requests... the ducks.
1--Label a set of index cards for each child [Family Time, Just Me, Friends]
2-- Gather the children [if you can] into one place. If not, talk to them individually or in smaller groups.
3-- Give each child the three index cards. Explain to them to list 2 things on each card that they would like to get to do this summer as a family, alone, and with friends.
4-- Have them star the most important thing on each card. Then have them sign each card and give it to you.
Note: If your kids are young, do it in a family discussion, you do the writing but still have them sign their choices with their name or thumbprint.
Get your ducks in a line: [or close to it]
--Use these cards to guide your family planning and scheduling.
--Depending on the kids' ages I sometimes posted the cards or put up the lists. Other times I just made a big "star" or "rainbow"
--Each time an activity takes place from someone's list put up a star or a sticky note or write it on the poster to show a "wish" come true.
It's not a perfect system, but it helps the kids think about choices, make priorities, learn to take turns, and helps them enjoy the summer, and helps you make sure that you are putting your effort into what matters to them. And remember.... be realistic... you may never get all you little ducks in a row but two out of three in a row is far better than the chaos at the beginning!
Image credits: treehugger.com, wilson-jaycees.org, foxnews.com