Summertime Parenting: Offering Choices

It’s Thursday.

I’ve been writing notes for a podcast all week.

Still not recorded.

Summertime means kids all day long, running the dishwasher three times a day, delivering them to their various functions, and breaking up fights or learning how to ignore them. This is week 2 of my new job – the first time in 20 years I’ve had to learn something completely new and rediscover that bottom rung on the totem pole, as well as the humility that is asking questions all shift long.

It’s week 4 of summer and we MIGHT be finding a routine now. Except next week is a holiday and that means my work schedule will be different, plus my brother and his family will be in town…. so schedule-schmedule.

Despite the fact that I had a rare girl-getaway this past weekend, I was drained by Wednesday night. The sibling fighting and obnoxious tone with which my daughter(10) conducts herself 97% of the time is almost too much for me to stand. There is just not enough room on this 3 acres for the two of us when she is talking like that and I can’t seem to find the off-switch.

I read an article last night about giving agency and choices to our “spirited” children, and it had a few good points in it. I doubted that it would make much of a difference but figured what the hell it can’t hurt to try.

This morning I looked ahead at my 4 hour work-from-home slot during which my younger two would be home to fend for themselves.

Praise the Lord, the Holy Spirit moved and I came up with an idea. I had no clue if it would work at all but I figured it was worth a shot.

Yesterday my youngest really enjoyed the scavenger hunt I found online. As I poured our apple juice this morning, I saw the boxes and the checkmarks on the clipboard and decided to try something similar for their day.


I thought about what they needed to accomplish and what could potentially keep them busy. Each task/activity went in a box:

  • Get dressed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Brush Teeth
  • Empty Dishwasher TOGETHER 10 minutes
  • Read quietly 20 minutes
  • Kindle time 30 minutes
  • Etc…

I went liberal on the screen time because I had 4 hours of work to do. They each got a movie box, but they also had a scavenger hunt box, a bike riding box, and a playdoh box.


They loved it.

Let’s be honest. The older of the two loves to boss the younger. And he’s a younger, so he’s used to it and really more than anything he just wants her to play with him.

I have no idea if the moon was just in the right position or if God could see I was at the end of my rope or what, but this worked.

Actually, let’s definitely give the credit to God and the Holy Spirit, because I mean really – He pulled through for me big time today. These two haven’t gotten along consecutively for this length of time since one of them was drugged up and passed out on the couch with a fever.

Praise to the Lord I needed this.

So I’m thinking I’ll be implementing this strategy potentially for the rest of the summer.  It feels like it’s structured enough to be useful, but flexible enough to be realistic. I’m sure it won’t be fool-proof. Heck, it might only work 2 more times and that’s it. But this might be the closest I get to a routine for the entire month and I’ll take what I can get. 

Maybe if things go well I’ll get another podcast recorded sometime in the month of July.

#summerparenting #scheduleissues #metime

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