My Summer Survival Plan

Summer Survival plan

I’m not even one week into summer vacation, and the writing is on the wall.

Forget about keeping my kids entertained. My goal is going to be keeping MY sanity this summer and reaching the start of school without a full head of gray hair.

The battle has begun. The survival plan needed to be set.

The tipoff was the shouting I heard coming from the living room on Friday morning. I don’t know what the kerfluffle was about, and I don’t care. I told my 8- and 10-year-old that I was not going to referee every disagreement they have – the need to keep a safe 5 step distance from each other and use nice words.


3 & 5 or 8 & 10…some things never change….

So much for that.

As I sat at the island beating my forehead against my laptop, the 10 year old sauntered into the kitchen with a grin on his face. “Only 72 days until school starts, mom!”

Did I mention that Friday was their first day of summer vacation? Shoot me now.

This morning, I put some basic rules into place.

  1. FOOD: Do NOT come to me moaning “I’m hungry”. You are always hungry, this is not news worth reporting to me. I also don’t want to hear “What can I have to eat?” because I’m not playing that game.  No.

The snack drawer in the pantry is there for a reason. Anything in the drawer, along with the trusty 100-for-$3.99 food dye-and-sugar laden Fla-Vor-Ice in the garage freezer are yours for the taking. However, if you empty the package of Nutter Butters in one sitting, I won’t be buying any more until my next stock-up trip, some time next week, or month. I’m not telling you when. If you choke down six Fla-Vor-Ice in a sitting and are bouncing off the walls with a sugar buzz, I will give you the vacuum to work off that energy, or there is likely some dog poop that could use picking up.

This is also the summer you will learn to make your own sandwich/butter a bagel. I do NOT want to hear that you don’t know how, using a knife to spread stuff is a life skill and it’s high time you learned to do so. Finally, I actually expect you to clean up the crumbs you leave behind. I would prefer that you use the sponge next to the sink and sweep them into your hand before depositing said crumbs in the sink/garbage, and while that you will be tempted to brush everything on the floor where the dog will eat them – that is her job – please remember that by using the dog’s tongue as your cleaning device of choice you have effectively eliminated the three-second rule. You know where that tongue likely was last.

  1. READ:  The school has given you a daily reading goal to complete for the summer. It is a pitiful 15 minutes and I know you can manage THAT daily, and in fact, you likely will read more than that, which is fantastic.  Heck, my darling 8-year-old, for as long as you take in the bathroom, you can knock off 15 minutes there on the busiest of days.

However, I don’t  plan on “cheating” and letting you read 30 minutes tomorrow to make up for what you didn’t read today – they are trying to encourage you to read every day, but they won’t punish you for a missing sticker or two on the chart.  If I don’t see a shiny star on your goal chart for the day, don’t come asking me what you can do other than go grab a book.

  1. MATH: The school has also challenged you to complete half of the math workbook they sent home. I’m thinking you can finish the entire damn thing. In fact, I’d like to see you knock off a couple of pages before you pick up the iPod.  Related: I know, dear son, that you don’t want to do the workbook, but please, if you are going to sit down next to me at my kitchen island desk while I’m writing, moaning as if you are about to pass a kidney stone will not get me to help you with it.  Once you actually read the directions, it turns out to be easy. Every. Single. Time.
  2. OUTDOORS: Go. Outside. PLEASE. We have a basketball hoop, a soccer net, stomp rockets, hula hoops, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and there are plenty of weeds to pull and flowers to water. For my daughter, who is happy to read away the day, go sit on the patio and breathe fresh air. That was my compromise as a kid, and I’ll offer it to you.

  3. ELECTRONICS:  Look, between school, homework, daily reading requirements and dance lessons/soccer trainings, I know how little actual free time you get during the school year, so I’m going to try hard not to bust your chops over how much time you spend playing the Wii or on your iPod – within reason.  However, when another human walks into your general area to speak to you, the conversation will take priority. Also, I’m only calling for dinner once, so if you miss out the evening meal because you didn’t hear me calling you, well, you’ll get to try out your new knife skills making yourself a PB&J.

  4. REPETITION:  I heard you the first time. Seriously. Asking me 20 times “so when can we go to the pool/go for a bike ride/have a snack” will NOT change my answer unless you seriously tick me off, and then things will not go in your favor.  I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you on that 3rd or 4th request.

7. YOUR ROOM:  I expect you to make your bed before you touch anything with an “on” switch.  Please don’t whine “but it’s summer…” because, frankly, you have plenty of free time now. I also expect all your dirty clothes to make it off the floor and into the laundry basket for the same reason. Bonus points if someone carries that basket to the laundry room for me.

I’m not so worried about the kids saying “I’m bored” as I have my trusty “I’m Bored” jar at the ready (thank you, Pinterest). Truthfully, you could fill a jar with blank slips of paper, and just let the kids see you write things like “clean the garage”, “clear out the attic” and “clean the basement storage room” and they will keep far, far away from the “B” word.

The only thing I don’t have a handle on is how to control the poking and the nitpicking that I know they will do at each other. It is something that has gone on since Cain and Abel, so if we can get through the summer with a little less bloodshed than they had, I’m good.

Just keep the shouting to a minimum, and you know where the band-aids are.

My biggest hope is that they will keep themselves busy enough that the aren’t in a room at the same time, but that’s doubtful.

In the meantime, I’ll be stocking plenty of limes, tonic water, and Tito’s vodka. All my similarly harried mom friends, you’re welcome over any time.

I’m happy to share.



  1. Love this! Will have to steal some of these ideas! My favorite: “Also, I’m only calling for dinner once, so if you miss out the evening meal because you didn’t hear me calling you, well, you’ll get to try out your new knife skills making yourself a PB&J.”

    • Seriously, my biggest pet peeve is when I call them for anything, and it takes three tries for them to “hear” me.
      My daughter has also been cautioned that this summer, what is on the table is what is for dinner, and if she doesn’t like it, well, she knows where the Cheerios are.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. When can I come over? Great read.

  3. Did you edit your blog and print this out for the kids. Maybe they need to SEE the rules. It could count as part of their 15 min. reading. Or not… Also where did you get that small bottle of Titos. Don’t you know it comes in the 1/2 gal. size. That is what we sell most of.

    • The kids haven’t read it yet (although Sam has asked to) but they have heard them, each one-on-one. (And yes, it would count towards the 15 minutes, lol.) Darn it, they will master use of the butter knife by summer’s end, and I will suck in my impatience with them for it.

      As for the Tito’s….its a 750ml bottle. It comes in something bigger?!!!! (That was a really tall glass I made the V&T in, you know…)

  4. LOL! Parenting wins all around! All I have to deal with is one cat constantly picking on the other two cats at 6 am. Mama wants to sleep!

    I wish more parents took this approach. Kids are much more well behaved when their parents aren’t pushovers who cater to their every whim. Good for you for being a great parent with rules! (Nope, not sarcasm. 🙂 )

    • We won’t even talk about the dog that wakes us up at 5:30 – it’s my husband’s doing, so he can deal with her.
      My kids are better when they know the rules. I can still be a pushover (anything – ANYTHING to end a whining fit quickly when I’m on my last nerve) but I think everyone is happier all around if they know what Mom’s limits are!

  5. I love this! And I would love to join you for a cocktail!

  6. I think I will be printing this off for my children! We do actually set down summertime rules every year. It works pretty well. I like your bed making an clothes in the hamper rules A LOT!

    • I’m telling you, making the bed is such a LITTLE thing but I can’t stand to see an unmade bed! I know this is my hang-up but I just want to instill good habits.

  7. I think I am stealing some of these. Making the bed goes out the window. When grandma is there she does it for them and when she isn’t I am gone by the time they get up and it seems like with all the running not home until after 8:00 PM. I am trying to set the reading and math rules but not being there it’s hard. My mom, nor their dad, will enforce it so I am left to deal with it at night when we usually have a yard full of kids. Luckily they play well together and are outside a lot….but Call of Duty on the xbox is going to drive me nuts. Aidan plays far too much of it.

    Here is our latest yard toy and all the kids LOVE it!

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