11-free-summer-activities-for-kids

Our summer may look simpler this year than it normally does.

Instead of being disappointed or frustrated about our losses during this season, let’s choose to embrace the slower pace of the summer of 2020.

If you’re like me and hanging out at home more, with little desire to spend a lot of money right now, perhaps these fun, but low-cost, ideas will be of interest to you. 

11-free-summer-activities-for-kids

1. Plan a themed family night

Look at your summer calendar and see if there are any days coming up that you could purposely celebrate. For example, National Ice Cream Day is coming up on July 21! Why not surprise your family with an ice cream party that day or set up a sundae bar after dinner?

One of our family’s favorite theme nights we’ve ever had was a backward dinner, where everyone shows up to eat with their clothes on backward. You also serve the meal backward starting with dessert first and serving the salad last. 

The point is to be silly and plan a fun family night that you wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Little-Free-Library

2. Seek out Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries are “take one, leave one” book stations, and are located all over the place. Visiting Little Free Library locations with your child both encourages a healthy habit of reading and helps kids recycle books they’ve already read.  

Our youngest and I enjoy trying to match the theme of the books we donate to the theme of the little library we are donating to, as we recently did at our local dog park. Get creative with your experiences and enjoy exploring your community together.

Check out littlefreelibrary.org for a map of libraries near you, as well as best practices during the Coronavirus.

3. Make a Boredom Bucket

I’m giving you permission to stop playing cruise director and constantly entertaining your child this summer!

Boredom is mightily beneficial, if we are strong enough to allow our children to experience it. Use this summer downtime to let your kids figure out how to entertain themselves, by themselves, just like we had to do back in the day.

summer-boredom-bucket

One way to set your son or daughter up for success is to help them create a Boredom Bucket, Bin, or Basket with quiet activities to occupy them when they don’t seem to know what to do with themselves. It’s that or a toilet bowl brush so let them take their pick!

CHECK OUT  MY SUMMER OF SIGNIFICANCE PRINTABLE PACK HERE

Putting together a boredom bucket also doesn’t need to cost you anything, unless you want to mix in new items. Your child can choose what items go in the bucket or you can go through their room like I did and pick out small items that have rarely gotten used. You can also add new items to the bucket or switch items out throughout the summer to keep it fun.

These magnetic balls are pricey, but they have been our son’s favorite boredom cure this summer so they are worth it!

4. Start dialogue journals 

School may be over, but we want to keep up on our student’s penmanship. So, grab one of your child’s barely used notebooks from this school year and start a dialogue journal with your kids to help them:

  • Improve their penmanship.
  • Get more comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas through the written word.
  • Think about the thoughts and feelings of another in this interactive form of communication.
  • Create a keepsake from their childhood to be cherished later.

Click HERE for more details on how and why you may want to get started on this!

Parent-on-purpose-chores

5. Strengthen life skills 

Take the time to teach your children the life skills that will help them when they start back to school and beyond. What is it that your child needs to know and that they can learn to do this summer?

Not sure? Get my life skills age-appropriate summer task checklists HERE!

6. Go Geocaching

Here’s a family-friendly activity that’s high on both fun and fresh air. Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt offering lots of hidden containers (called caches) and tips and clues for finding them in public spaces such as parks. It was one of our kids’ favorite things they did as we traveled around the USA in our RV in 2014.

Geocaching-kids-summer

Create a free account HERE or download the app from Apple or Google Play on your smartphone. Make sure to bring hand sanitizer and a pen to sign and date the logbook in each geocache you find before placing it back where you found it.

7. Join a summer reading challenge

There are many ways to motivate your child to read more this summer. Start with your local public library to see what they are offering this summer or join in one of the many reading challenges being offered online.

Have a kid who loves pizza? This may be the reading program for them!  Camp BOOK IT is Pizza Hut’s new summer reading program where kids ages 5-12 can earn free pizzas from June through August. Half Price Books is running their summer reading challenge too or you can sign up for Scholastic’s Summer Read-A- Palooza as well.

send-summer-postcards

8. Send postcards

Postcards are an easy way to get our kids working on their penmanship while sending some love through the mail this summer.

Who knew you can even order postcard stamps from the comfort of your home on Amazon right HERE. I like buying postcards showcasing our beautiful state, but you can buy unique sets of postcards like these if you don’t have an option or desire to purchase them locally.

kids-in-the-kitchen-summer-life-skills

9. Make a homemade treat in your kitchen together

Hanging out in the kitchen with your kids this summer will provide so many benefits! Not only will you have some fun together, but you will also have the chance to teach your children lifelong skills.

What recipe can you teach your kids how to make? Homemade Strawberry Fruit Rollups is one of our favorite family summer treats and it’s the only recipe I’ve ever posted on my blog!

Kitchen-life-skills-for-kids

WANT TO CREATE SIGNIFICANT FAMILY SYSTEMS IN THE KITCHEN THIS SUMMER?

glass-jar-tradition

10. Start a glass jar tradition

One of the most important things we can do is take the time to create simple traditions in our homes that teach our kids the values we deem most important. One way to do this is to create an annual glass jar tradition to teach the values of generosity, gratitude, joy, or presence.

Here are four glass jar traditions you could start this summer!

chalk-art-glass-window

11. Create a chalk art family masterpiece

I know that chalk art is so “Coronavirus quarantine,” but this mosaic design we painted on our glass door brings me so much joy. I don’t think I’ll ever erase it!

Grab some masking or painters tape and create a design (with chalk markers) on your window or on your driveway and let each family member take part in bringing your artistic creation to life. Make it a fun, family affair!

What are other simple, fun, and low-cost activities are you enjoying with your family this summer?

7-ways-to-create-a-summer-of-significancei-in-2020

The Summer of 2020 is being called ‘The Summer of Nothing’ and ‘The Endless Summer.’

While I can certainly relate to the feelings and realities behind both of those statements, I know that I want to make this summer matter despite our circumstances.

Childhood is short. Summer is even shorter. God willing, we only get 18 summers with our kids, so how can we bring significance to this summer that may be simpler than we’re used to?

7-ways-to-create-a-summer-of-significancei-in-2020

1. Strengthen your family values and purpose

Have you taken the time to claim your core values and purpose for raising your kids? It will be nearly impossible to live out a summer of significance if you haven’t taken the time to define what ‘significant’ even means to you.

Start by defining your core values and what it is you want to instill in your children while they are growing up under your care. 

What do you want your son or daughter armored with when they leave your home one day headed into adulthood?

Claim it. Name it and strive to live it out this summer.

2. Prioritize play

Most likely any vacationing or summer camp plans your family had scheduled for this summer were cancelled. Although we’re disappointed with all of the changes to our calendar this year, let’s take a deep breath and instead think about how you can bring more fun to your simple summer days.

How about planning a themed family dinner night? We still talk about the backward dinners we did when our kids were younger, where we all came to dinner wearing backward clothing and started our meal with dessert and ended with salad.

What is it that brings your family joy when you do it together? Plan more of THAT to create significant summer moments and memories for your family.

Click HERE for FREE ideas for being more playful this summer! (Be sure to look for my Boredom Bucket idea helping kids to be playful on their own!)

create-summer-significance-2020-printable-worksheets

3. Cultivate an atmosphere of growth

Our time spent in Coronavirus quarantine exposed many strengths and weaknesses in our families. 

What’s something that didn’t go so well during your time schooling at home? Focus on strengthening that area this summer.

While it’s important to play and relax, it’s also crucial to keep learning and growing through the summer months.

For instance, I’m so tired of online learning and am looking for ways to help my youngest keep up on his math skills. This summer we’re using Learning Math Wrap-Ups to strengthen his multiplication and division facts. Check out this whole line of awesome hands-on learning wrap-ups HERE, where you will get 20% off and free shipping too!

Learning-wrap-ups-math-learning-palette

Learning Wrap-Ups sent us these products for our son to try! I’m so grateful that he enjoys using them, and his math skills are improving!

4. Teach life skills

Having the kids at home provides a perfect opportunity to teach them what it is we want them to know before they leave our homes for adulthood one day.

This summer we can take the opportunity to teach our children how to do their own laundry, cook, clean, or change a tire. Perhaps you can finally open that bank account or help your child start a business. Or simply teach them to tie their shoes or handwrite, address and mail a thank you note.

What life skill will you purposely teach your child this summer?

Parent-on-purpose-chores

GET MY SUMMER LIFE SKILLS- FOR TODDLERS THROUGH TEENS- PRINTABLES

5. Make mindful entertainment choices

Binge-watching random television shows, scrolling social media constantly, or playing video games non-stop isn’t a good use of our child’s time. Sure, there may be space for mindless entertainment choices this summer, but we must purposely set boundaries on them, so they don’t consume our days.

Why not purposely choose documentaries to educate yourself as well as create conversation and awareness of cultural issues in your family this summer?

What healthy entertainment choices will you choose for your family this summer?

4 Ways to Save Your Sanity with a Summer Screentime Strategy

northern-arizona-fishing

6. Go on local adventures

We were so excited to celebrate our high school graduates and my husband’s 50th birthday on an Alaska cruise this summer. Unfortunately, our epic trip, along with many other things have been cancelled this summer. As disappointing as it is, we have to pivot and plan for other adventures this summer of 2020.

Where can you plan to go explore, get out in nature, and enjoy the outdoors where you live?

Most likely, you don’t have to venture further than your home state for family fun. Many times we take for granted the beautiful places that surround us locally that we’ve never taken the time to visit… yet.

What adventures will you create this summer that will add to your family narrative and strengthen your relationships?

Summer-2020-Bucket-List

7. Celebrate life, and loved ones, in simple ways

What can you do to celebrate Dad on Father’s Day so that he feels special and loved?

When my kids were younger, they loved it when I planned a special day for each of them. My sons and daughter got to pick what they wanted to eat for breakfast in bed and what our family would do (within reason) that day.

In my Create a Summer of Significance in 2020 Printable Pack, you will get monthly celebration calendars for you to plan your June, July, and August, as well as a fun fill-in-the-blank All About Dad printable for Father’s Day.

Questions to Ask Yourself-

  • What does each family member need this summer to strengthen them physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally?
  • What frustrated you the most this school year? Work on improving that area this summer so when school rolls around again you may have established better habits.
  • What summer family tradition can you repeat again this year? Summer wouldn’t be summer without this…. bike rides to the bagel shop or boating on the lake. What are the simple things your family does together that can still happen this summer of 2020?

Summer-of-Significance-2020-Printable-Workbook

Teach-High-Schoolers-Personal-Health

As my firstborn sons wind down their senior year of high school, I question what I still need to teach them over these next couple of months before launching them off to their respective college campuses come August.

One area where we parents seem to fall short in our teaching is helping our son or daughter manage their health.

In general, we do a relatively good job of talking with our kids about the importance of eating a healthy diet while getting proper exercise and plenty of sleep. Yet, are we failing to prepare our kids to manage their health when they leave our homes?

From the many stories I’ve heard from doctors and nurses, I’m thinking so.

12 GIFTS TO GIVE YOUR HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR FOR GRADUATION

Emergency Room Nurse Charity Hollywood says she consistently sees ill-equipped young adults stream into the emergency room where she works near a large university campus in Arizona. She says that she is striving to raise her 6-year old twin sons to be confident and capable from a young age and encourages other parents to prepare their children better when it comes to managing their health.

What skills do young adults lack when it comes to their health?

What can parents do differently while raising their kids so that they can launch adults who are more confident and capable when managing their health?

Teach-High-Schoolers-Personal-Health

Read more

12-gifts-to-give-high-school-graduates

As I prepare to graduate my firstborn sons from high school and launch them from the safety of our nest this fall, I want to talk about what are the best gifts we can give our Seniors at this special time in our lives.

And guess what….. these gifts won’t cost you much, if anything, at all!

LISTEN IN as my author friend, Dennis Trittin, and I talk about 12 gifts that we think are important to give high school seniors before launching them off into adulthood.

  • Download Dennis’ Resource List: HERE
  • Download Amy’s mock Health History Questionnaire for Teens to practice filling out: HERE
  • Download Amy’s Life Skills for the Launch: HERE
  • Get your personalized college stationery HERE

Who needs some strategies to give your kids Wings, Not Strings, and to launch young adults who can soar with confidence? Wings-Not-Strings-Parenting-Book

 

Dialogue-Journals-with-foster-children

While many of us are finding ourselves at home with our family members during this season of the Coronavirus pandemic, it can be challenging to figure out positive ways to spend our time while helping our kids grow in the process.

Two important areas we can devote our efforts to right now is strengthening family communication and our kids’ life skills. 

Over our summer breaks, I used to do dialogue journals with my elementary school-aged kids to help them:

  • Improve their penmanship.
  • Get more comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas through the written word.
  • Think about the thoughts and feelings of another in this interactive form of communication.
  • Create a keepsake from their childhood to be cherished later.

What you need to start a Dialogue Journal

All you need to start your dialogue journal is a simple notebook and a writing instrument. Nothing fancy required. I even like to recycle the kids’ old school notebooks that still have plenty of unused pages left in them. (Rip out the used pages!)

Dialogue-Journal-with-kids-coronavirus-quarantine

As the parent, you begin the journal by writing Dear Son or Daughter and the date. Then, tell your child something about your day and ask them a question. Leave the notebook on their bed or somewhere they will naturally find it. Then, your child is to write you back in the same format, asking you a question as well. And the journal gets casually passed back and forth creating improved penmanship, communication, and a keepsake to look back on.

TIP: You can liven up the notebook covers even with sayings or photos of the two of you on the front. I used to do a dialogue journal with the foster teen I mentored, and it was an excellent way for us to “talk” about the hard stuff that’s sometimes difficult to express in person.

Dialogue-Journals-with-foster-children

TIP: You could even do a Dialogue Journal with a friend or loved one who lives locally too. Ride your bike or drive over and drop the notebook at their door, and they can do the same when they are done.

Ask questions to get your child talking about their feelings and thoughts about their experience in quarantine and what they are missing this summer.

Click Here for 20 questions you could ask your child in your Dialogue Journal or use the cards to communicate around your family dinner table!

Use this time to strengthen your family communication through starting dialogue journals with your children. Not only will your son or daughter learn pertinent skills for today, but you will intentionally create a keepsake to be cherished tomorrow as well.

Have you done a dialogue journal with your child before?

 

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

We’re headed off on a week-long family trip, and in our excitement, we post pictures on Facebook of our departure from the country.

Our son receives a prestigious award at school, so we proudly post him holding his certificate on Instagram. #proudmom

It’s our daughter’s birthday, so we lovingly celebrate her by sharing a collage of pictures throughout her life even though she’s not even on the social platform.

Yes, we are proud of our offspring.

Of course, we want to share our child’s cute face and shining moments for friends and family to see.

Naturally, we’re excited to head off on that much-awaited family vacation. 

But, should we be sharing our kids’ images and our precious family moments online?

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

With June being Internet Safety Month, it made me think about my ‘sharenting’ habits and question if it’s a problem posting all that we are on our social feeds?

Are there risks to our ‘sharenting’? 

Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy, says absolutely and it’s why she doesn’t do it. She is a mother of two tweens who you won’t see anywhere on her social media feeds. She and her husband purposely keep their children offline.

“Neither one of us post anything about kids on social media,” says Strohman. “I’m really specific what I allow to be tagged as well. It’s not my right to post on my child’s behalf when it’s not their choice.”

Where do we draw the line between our freedom as a parent to post and a child’s right to privacy?

“I am a full believer that kids should come into adulthood with as little digital footprints as they possibly can,” says Dr. Strohman. “As a parent, I feel it isn’t our place to ‘brand’ them at a place in time with something that could come back and haunt them later. I mean, who would want our hairstyle from the ’80s to show up in any searchable database?”

Why we may need to change our ‘sharenting’ habits

Parents need to understand that the choices they make today could impact their child ten years from now. “If I’m sharing something about my child that they did when they were seven, who is going to see that?” questions Dr. Strohman. “You have zero control if you post on social, where those images go.”

Podcaster and Writer, Meagan Francis witnessed this firsthand when someone lifted her photo from Facebook and turned it into a meme that quickly went viral. Having a stranger turn her difficult mom moment into a viral meme was never her intention when she originally posted her picture, yet it’s the reality that can happen to any of us who post our images and stories online.

Allow your child to create their own digital identity.

“I recommend that you don’t post about your kids. You are creating a digital footprint on behalf of them that they haven’t created themselves or wanted to,” says Strohman. 

But, if you must post, think long and hard about what information you are putting online. What is the purpose of posting that image or story?

Most parents say they are posting on social media to keep families up to date with the latest photos of the kids. “The problem is when you do this publicly rather than in a file sharing program that doesn’t make it public like Dropbox or Google Drive, then you have no control who will see them, rip the images and use them in a way that you could be horrified to find out later,” says Dr. Strohman.

Put your child’s pictures back in the photo album where they belong.

Sharents need to mindfully print and preserve precious family photos instead of constantly posting them on the internet.

Rachel Musnicki spoke for many kids in her article on Your Teen Magazine, “We hate it when you tell our friends embarrassing stories in person; it’s worse when you post them on Facebook. Remember, nothing ever goes away on the Internet. We don’t want to be followed by that embarrassing nickname or baby picture on the Internet forever. I’d be mortified beyond belief if pictures of me with braces were on the Internet. Some images should remain hidden in a photo album.”

Consider removing images you’ve already posted of your child.

My daughter is embarrassed that when you google my name, a photo she doesn’t like comes up of her from five years ago on our RV sabbatical around the United States. At the moment she was okay with me posting the image, but five years later she wants it removed from cyberspace.

Fortunately, I know the owner of the podcast where it appears, and she agreed to take the image down. Other photos will remain online as they are attached to freelance articles that I’ve written, so they may unfortunately forever live on the web.    

Make a conscious choice to find other ways to connect with family and friends.

When prom season rolled around, I had to refrain from adding my teens’ pictures to the feed. Several good friends asked to see photos, and I was able to share the images with only my closest family and friends. 

My sons posted their prom pictures on their social media accounts, which is how it should be. We want to let our child create their digital footprint, instead of us building it for them.

What if we’re not ready to stop our ‘sharenting’? 

What should we consciously do before we post our child’s images and information online?

3 Things You Should Never Post

1. Don’t post your travels in real time.

You should never post ahead of or during a vacation.

“You are absolutely inviting people to your home especially if you are listed on the state website listing homeownership,” says Dr. Strohman. A driver’s license or a travel itinerary shared online could be valuable information for identity thieves and burglars. At least wait until you are back before posting your memorable moments.

2. Don’t post celebratory birthday messages.

With just a name, date of birth, and address (easy enough to find in a geotagged birthday party photo on Facebook, for example), bad actors can store this information until a person turns 18 and then begin opening accounts.

 “There is a lot of information people can pull from knowing your birthday,” says Strohman. “It takes away a huge unknown variable, for instance, if you are trying to steal someone’s identity.”

Get-Kids-Permission-Before-Sharing-on-Social-Sharents

3. Don’t post images of your child that they didn’t approve.

Always ask your child permission to post their image online and then respect their wishes if they say no. Also, understand that even if your child says yes today, they may later be embarrassed or upset about that photo living online later. 

Never tag your child or use their real name when posting their images either.

Remember that less is more when it comes to our ‘sharenting’.  Let’s be more mindful about the risks and consequences of posting on our child’s behalf. 

Have you experienced any issues from posting your child’s or family images online?

Fortnite-Video-Game-Playing-Parent-Expectations

My son was never a gamer. He played sports, hung out with friends and did typical dirty boy stuff.

Enter Fortnite: Battle Royale.

The popular video game is now my son’s competition of choice and playing Fortnite is his way of hanging out with friends. Even though it makes me out of my ever-loving parental mind watching my offspring sit there with headphones on shooting at animated characters on a screen, I’m allowing it in our home, but not without limitation.

Playing video games should be an earned privilege, according to Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy.

Is playing Fortnite an earned privilege in your home?

Fortnite-Battle-Royale-Video-Game-Parent-Expectations-For-Teenagers

As summer approaches and more downtime is on the horizon, I urge my fellow parents of Fortniters to begin to set family guidelines around gaming now.

FIRST UNDERSTAND WHY YOUR SON PLAYS FORTNITE

Belonging

Kids naturally have a need to belong and be part of the group. Playing Fortnite fulfills the human need for attachment to other people. The team approach of the popular video game is like being on a playground with friends.

It’s Addictive

There is the ability to have rankings and feel accomplishment and status, so it’s exciting…. and addicting. We must be careful that video games are not medicating our children, just as we adults might turn to alcohol, shopping or other deterrents to mask our reality.

It is ‘Free’

Battle Royale is a free game yet comes at a cost. “There is always a trade-off for the free video game, says Dr. Strohman. “It costs our child no money to begin playing, yet Epic Games collects all of our kids’ data.” Fortnite generated $223 million in one month alone. What appears to be free at the onset, is costing our kids along the way.

All the Cool Kids are Playing

It doesn’t help that our sons are watching their heroes play Fortnite in their downtime. “The game industry is very savvy bringing in the celebrity aspect to further entice our kids and create even more frenzy around it,” says Dr. Strohman. “They want to see who they can rub elbows with. Of course, our teenager would love the opportunity to take Rapper Drake down.”

Parenting the Fortnite Addict in the New York Times

Fortnite-Battle-Royale-Video-Game-Parent-Expectations-For-Teenagers

3 THINGS PARENTS SHOULD DO FOR THEIR FAVORITE FORTNITER

1. Communicate about healthy consumption

According to Dr. Strohman, parents must treat technology the same as they do food. “We would never allow a steady diet full of sugar, so why would we allow a steady diet of video games and technology? she says. “If you saw your children eating gummy bears for breakfast, you would sit them down and talk about how it is unhealthy.”

Parents must do the same thing when it comes to video game consumption. We must talk to our child about why a diet full of screens isn’t healthy and then we must be willing to set firm boundaries around gaming in our homes.

2. Create opportunities to build empathy

How are these first-person shooter games affecting our kids?

There is no research to show that first-person shooter games, such as Fortnite, creates actual violence. “But, what it has shown is escalated aggression,” said Dr. Strohman. A heightened alert system increases aggressive tendencies which reduce empathy in our kids. The concern is that this is becoming habitual.”

The world needs us to raise empathetic humans. Parents must mindfully create plenty of opportunities for our children to learn empathy through real-world experiences in our families and communities. Especially if we know that video games are numbing our children to this critical value.

4 Technology Battles Parents Must Fight

3. Write out your parental expectations for earning the privilege of gaming

How does your child currently earn the privilege to play video games in your home?

I asked Dr. Strohman if the list I gave my teenage Fortnite playing son was perhaps over the top? Was I crossing the line from a firm and loving authoritative parent to a demanding authoritarian parent with my expectations?

Fortnite-Video-Game-Parent-Expectations

“Your list is absolutely awesome,” said Dr. Strohman. “If your son isn’t responsible enough to wear his retainers then how can he earn the privilege of playing video games?”

Nothing like an expert to tell you that your parenting tactics are spot on. Sorry son….

Decide what boundaries you need to place on video gameplay and overall technology use in your home.

It’s okay if our kids think we’re crazy, mean, or super annoying. It’s fine if our expectations make our child temporarily unhappy. It is our job to teach and lead our children to a life of significance and meaning and I can guarantee you too much time on an addictive video game is not achieving that goal.

Have you set boundaries on your son’s Fortnite play? What’s working for your family?

Want more wisdom from Dr. Lisa Strohman? Check out her website here!

To learn about Dr. Strohman’s book Unplug and other books on parenting our kids on screens check out my Parent On Purpose Amazon store!

gifts-for-16th-birthday

How does this…

triplet-sons-driving-16

Turn into this… in a few blinks of an eye.

I’m not sure how we’re already at this stage in our family, but I have to say these guys are way more fun now than they ever were 16 years ago!

The big question I’m asked is did we buy them three cars for their milestone birthday?

Not a chance.

If there was no car with a bow, no epic party or promised iPhone X, then what did we give our 16-year-olds besides a little cash?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in what material item to buy or what Pinterest worthy event to throw, that we forget what’s really important to give our kids- the gift of lifelong values.

gifts-for-16th-birthday

1. The Gift of Desire

All my sons desired for their birthday was to get their drivers’ licenses and hit the open road. They wanted the gift of freedom as they turned 16, and that’s what we gave them- a ride to the DMV.

There was no party, no promise of the latest electronic or a new car. We had simply instilled in our boys the desire to set up their own appointments online to take the driving test the minute they could on their birthday. I wasn’t even aware that you could do that. Good for them.

Read more

7-things-your-daughter-should-not[-post-on-instagram

223 likes.

527 followers.

We know that Instagram numbers matter to our daughters.

You are so perfect.

Love you so much.

The feedback our girls receive on their Instagram posts matters even more.

But does your daughter know what matters to you when it comes to her presence online?

Read more

8-things-parents-need-to-stop-doing-for-teens-this-school-year

Don’t judge me if you happen to see my kids eating packaged Ritz crackers for school lunch.

Don’t judge me if they’re on the sidelines of PE because they forgot their uniform.

Don’t judge me if they didn’t turn in their homework because it’s still sitting home on their desk.

What some may view as a lack of parenting, is what I deem parenting on purpose, as we work to build necessary life skills in our kids.

I stopped making daily breakfasts and packing school lunches long ago.

I don’t feel obligated to deliver forgotten items left behind at home.

School projects and homework are not any part of my existence.

How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?

Let's parent our kids to be capable adults! I love this Ann Landers quote!

Walk away from doing these 8 things for your teen this school year

1. Waking them up in the morning

If you are still waking little Johnny up in the mornings, it’s time to let an alarm clock do its job. My foursome has been expected to get themselves up on early school mornings since they started middle school. There are days one will come racing out with only a few minutes to spare before they have to be out the door. The snooze button no longer feels luxurious when it’s caused you to miss breakfast.

I heard a Mom actually voice out loud that her teen sons were just so cute still, that she loved going in and waking them up every morning. Please stop. I find my sons just as adorable as you do, but our goal is to raise well-functioning adults here.

2. Making their breakfast and packing their lunch

My morning alarm is the sound of the kids clanging cereal bowls. My job is to make sure there is food in the house so that they can eat breakfast and pack a lunch.

One friend asked, yeah but how do you know what they’re bringing for school lunch? I don’t. I know what food I have in my pantry and it’s on them to pack up what they feel is a good lunch. It will only be a few short years and I will have no idea what they are eating for any of their meals away at college. Free yourself away from the PB and J station now.

3. Filling out their paperwork

Have kids fill out and sign all school paperwork and put on clipboard before you sign

I have a lot of kids, which equates to a lot of beginning of the school year paperwork. I used to dread this stack until the kids became of age to fill all of it out themselves. Our teens are expected to fill out all of their own paperwork, to the best of their ability. They put the papers to be signed on a clipboard and leave it for me on the kitchen island. I sign them and put them back on their desks. This makes life much easier for everyone.

Hold your teens accountable. They will need to fill out job and college applications soon and they need to know how to do that without your intervention. When they start applying for college, they’ll need to be more organized because of the workload they’ll be receiving.

4. Delivering their forgotten items

Monday morning we pulled out of the driveway and screeched around the corner of the house when daughter dear realized she forgot her phone. “We have to go back, Mom!” Another exclaimed that he forgot his freshly washed PE uniform folded in the laundry room. I braked in hesitation as I contemplated turning around. Nope. Off we go, as the vision surfaced of both of them playing around on their phones before it was time to leave.

Parents don’t miss opportunities to provide natural consequences for your teens. Forget something? Feel the pain of that. Kids also get to see, that you can make it through the day without a mistake consuming you.

We also have a rule that Mom and Dad are not to get pleading texts from school asking for forgotten items. It still happens, but we have the right to just shoot back “that’s a bummer.”

text message

5. Making their failure to plan your emergency

School projects do not get assigned the night before they are due. Therefore, I do not run out and pick up materials at the last minute to get a project finished. I do always keep poster boards and general materials on hand for the procrastinating child. But, other needed items, you may have to wait for. Do not race to Michaels for your kid who hasn’t taken time to plan.

This is a good topic to talk about in weekly family meetings. Does anyone have projects coming up that they’re going to need supplies for so that I can pick them up at my convenience this week?

6. Doing all of their laundry

laundry time

“What? YOU didn’t get my shorts washed? This response always backfires on the kid who may lose their mind thinking that I’m the only one who can do laundry around here. Every once in awhile a child needs a healthy reminder that I do not work for them. The minute they assume that this is my main role in life is the minute that I gladly hand over the laundry task to them.

Most days I do the washing and the kids fold and put their clothes away, but they are capable of tackling the entire process when need be.

7. Emailing and calling their teachers and coaches

If our child has a problem with a teacher or coach, he is going to have to take it to the one in charge. There is no way that we, as parents, are going to question a coach or email a teacher about something that should be between the authority figure and our child.

Don’t be that over-involved parent. Teach your child that if something is important enough to him, then he needs to learn how to handle the issue himself or at least ask you to help them.

8. Meddling in their academics

National Junior Honor Society middle school induction ceremony Cocopah Middle School

Put the pencil down parents. Most of the time, I honestly couldn’t tell you what my kids are doing for school work. We talk about projects and papers over dinner, but we’ve always had the expectation for our kids to own their work and grades. At times, they’ve earned Principals Lists, Honor Rolls, and National Junior Honor Society honors on their own accord. At other times, they’ve missed the mark.

These apps and websites, where parents can go in and see every detail of children’s school grades and homework, are not helping our overparenting epidemic.

Every blue moon I will ask the kids to pull up their student account and show me their grades because I want them to know I do care. I did notice our daughter slacking off at the end of last year and my acknowledgment helped her catch up, but I’m not taking it on as one of my regular responsibilities and you shouldn’t be either.

What is your parenting goal?

Is it to raise competent and capable adults?

If so, then lets work on backing off in areas where our teens can stand on their own two feet. I know they’re our babies and it feels good to hover over them once in a while, but in all seriousness, it’s up to us to raise them to be capable people.

I want to feel confident when I launch my kids into the real world that they are going to be just fine because I stepped back and let them navigate failure and real-life stuff on their own.

So please don’t judge me if my kids scramble around, shoving pre-packaged items into that brown paper lunch bag, before racing to catch the bus.

It’s all on purpose, my friends.