For nine months of the year, they are in an environment of activity and being around others. The days are planned out, right down to breaks and lunches, by someone who is paid to do this.
Then they come home for the summer. I don't know about your kids, but for mine, they became bored and restless after the first week. It was assumed that I would drop everything to ensure they were always actively engaged, having fun, and had food to eat when they wanted it. I became the "beck and call" mom. They thought that since they were had 10 weeks or so of vacation, I should take a vacation from my business as well.
Working together, we came up with a plan that offered compromise. Did it work 100% of the time? No! But it worked 80% and made life for ALL of us much easier. Here are the 5 tips we came up with - and as you can see - most of them have to do with food and our food budget.
1. Menu planning. Have your kids write up a list of all the meals they like. Print out a monthly calendar. Add the meal choice to the designated week day for each child. It's fun to let the kids choose a color that all of there choices are written in. This could include breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
2. Game plan: If a child doesn't care for one of the meals, they need to zip it and eat the foods served at that meal. Point out when the child has their favorite dish so he/she can look forward to it. They eat what is served - no foraging and making another meal. If a child really dislikes one of the dishes, be sure to add side dishes to the meal that the child really likes so they still have something they will eat and enjoy.
3. Control snacking! Consider adding snacks with low sugar and high fiber content. Fiber will fill them up and keep them full longer.
4. Schedule eating times and places. For example: breakfast 8-9 Lunch 11:30-1 Dinner 5:30-6:30. Snacks: 10:30; 3:30; 8 pm Make a sign that outlines these times. At one point I had to make a sign and tape it in plain site :"Kitchen Closed". They grumbled and complained but got used to it. This cut down dramatically on boredom eating as well as dirty dishes, etc. Control the mess and have them sit at the counter or kitchen table to eat. The exception might be the evening snack, especially if you are spending time as a family. The same goes for drinking water and other beverages!
5. Teach them to help. Have them set the table; pick up their dirty dishes when done and carry to kitchen; teach them how to unload and load the dishwasher; teach them where the dishes go when unloading the dishwasher (not the kitchen counter); store condiments in a plastic tub in the fridge so it's easy to pull in and out. This way you have all the condiments in 1 easy step.
How do you maintain a harmonious home when all the kids are off for summer vacation? We'd love to learn from you!
One problem. One solution. 15 minutes. Done.