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Coach Mom Newsletter - May 2011

Seizing the Summer: Making the Most of It


  First, set a time to evaluate how the school year went for each child. Discuss with each one the things that went well and the things that did not go so well. What factors influenced success? Write down three changes you would like each child to make for next year, and be sure to mark on your calendar in August where to find that list for review.

Clean out backpacks and look through papers that were sent home at the end of school. File them in their “papers to save” place or throw them away. This is also a great time to get everything out of the file (or drawer, whatever it is), and cull it down to the best papers that show the child’s creativity, hard work, and talent.

  Gather as a family around the dinner table and brainstorm memories about last summer. What did each person like? Not like? Favorite memories?

●  Share changes you as parents would like to see over the next two months, and in the coming school year.


●  The answers to the “looking back” questions are clues to this year’s summer planning. If last year’s schedule felt rush-rush, then cut down on the number of activities you commit to for your children. If they all mentioned funny stories from the day you went to the park with the fountains, put that on your list again.

●  Brainstorm ideas for summer – what would each hope to do during the break from school? Is there a new skill one would like to learn?

●  Discuss with your family where they each spend most of their time on summer days, and set goals with each child on what a typical day’s “schedule” might look like, setting some boundaries (i.e. 30 minute max on the Wii, one hour max on the computer, one hour max TV time, etc.) Then decide how those decided-upon schedules will be monitored.

●  Make the most of carpool opportunities by signing up kids for day camps with friends who live close by.

●  Don’t let those open hours of summer get wasted in boredom and screen time. Guide your child to…

o   List three people in his/her life who are special, and have them write a note of thanks and encouragement to them.

o   Participate in a library summer reading program.

o   Clean out 3 pairs of shoes you have outgrown.

o   Pick 3 stuffed animals to give away.

o   Do a service project for an elderly neighbor.

o   Choose 5 toys to pass on to another child.

o   Write a poem.

o   Fingerpaint.

o   Lie in the grass after dark and look at the stars. Find the constellations.

o   Build with Legos.

o   Pick berries at a nearby farm.

o   Take your camera on a photo safari in a park or your backyard.

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Traveling with the Children this Summer?

●  Know your limits – adjust your expectations, depending on the number of children you have and their ages.

●  Pack each child a bag with busy activities – a favorite small stuffed animal, paper, markers/pens/pencils, activity books, a few small toys, and books. Load a few audio books and music on an MP3 player and pack headphones. Two sets of headphones can be plugged in using an inexpensive attachment.

●  Make a vacation journal for each child using a 1” binder and copy paper. Encourage the child to draw pictures or write about their favorite things from each day as you go along. It makes a great keepsake.

  Pack a first aid kit, flashlight, and other goods in the car for emergencies.

●  Keep baby wipes, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and tissues easily accessible in the car.

●  Try to keep mealtimes and bedtimes as close to the usual as possible.

●  Remember the simple things that can make a child happy – a playground stop, feeding the ducks at a pond, etc. (The simple things are often much more affordable than other things, too!)

●  Get an extra car key to keep in your wallet in case of accidental locking of keys in the car.

●  Think twice before posting travel updates and photos on Facebook, letting everyone who has access to your friend’s FB accounts know that you are away from home. Wait until you are home and post an album of your trip.

 A few tips if going by airplane:

●  Encourage the children to get their energy out at the airport before boarding the plane by jumping and doing active things.

●  Pack extra snacks and sippy cups (that can be filled after going through security). Be prepared for extra time on the plane in case of a delay.

●  Pack a spare set of clothes for your children in their carry-on bag (or two or three for infants and toddlers) and a spare shirt for yourself as well.

●  Pack extra diapers and wipes.

●  Download a children’s movie to your electronic device or audio books on an MP3 player.

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Ask Coach Mom

Dear Brenna,

I can’t believe school is coming to a close and my three children, ages 11, 8 and 6 will be home full-time again. My 2011 goals of home organization are not panning out too well, and now it looks like I have no hope of making any progress until September. Any advice?


Dear Whitney,

Organization and summer may not seem to mix well for families, but with a little planning and a “teamwork” attitude, you can make great strides when you have grade school children. Make a list of organization projects and break them down into small assignments. You might let your children know that each Monday (or whenever you choose) they will be given an organizational task (i.e. 1. Take everything out of three dresser drawers. 2. Put back in those drawers only the clothes that still fit and they wear. 3. Put all remaining clothes in a bag to give away.)

Another way that you can motivate each week is to let them know the tasks will be done in an hour or less (and set a timer). If they go beyond expectations (i.e. cleaning out five drawers instead of three), offer extra privileges such as more time on the Wii as rewards. Also, plan incentives along the way when determined progress is made.  You will put the children’s extra time and energy to work for the betterment of your home, and also teach them steps to organization that they can use for a lifetime.

Complete your own organizational projects as they are doing theirs, and you might be surprised at the progress you make by the end of August!


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