Summer break is undoubtedly a great time to relax and vacation, but it’s also the perfect season to purposely teach your kids the life skills that will serve them well today and when they leave your home one day for adulthood.

Whether you have toddlers or teens, take the time over the summer months to teach your kids the life skills they may be lacking. During a busy school year, we sometimes don’t have an opportunity to teach our sons and daughters the crucial things they need to know.

Here are 11 life skills to teach your child this summer and beyond

1. Make a bed

Start simple. “If you can’t do the little things right, you will never be able to do the big things right. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed,” said Naval Admiral William H. McRaven in his University of Texas at Austin 2014 commencement address.

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Teach your kids to start each day by making their bed, reinforcing the fact that little things matter.

READ: WHY YOU NEED TO MAKE YOUR BED

2. Write and send mail

In this digital age we are raising kids in, we forget to teach our sons and daughters the basic skills of addressing an envelope properly or where to place the postage stamp. Do your kids know how much stamps cost or where to buy them? A perfect summer field trip might be to the post office.

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This summer, have your son or daughter send postcards to their grandparents or other loved ones when you are traveling or mail them from your hometown. What thank you notes need to be written and mailed off to family and friends?

READ: 5 REASONS YOUR KIDS SHOULD WRITE THANK YOU NOTES

3. Pack their camp or travel bags

Whether it’s their sports bag or camp duffle, our sons and daughters need to learn to pack their bags with the contents they need without our help. If your child is younger, you may need to make a checklist for them to follow until they are in the habit of gathering everything by themselves. Older kids can make a list for themselves if need be.

The more you hold your kids responsible for their tasks, the more accountable they will become. 

READ: 5 REASONS TO MAKE SUMMER CAMP A PART OF YOUR FAMILY PLAN

4. Tip wait staff

Most parents know to teach their children proper restaurant etiquette- to look at the server in the eye and order their meals for themselves while politely using their manners.

But, many times, we forget to teach our children how to tip. When you eat out this summer, take the time to show your older children how to figure 15%-20% of the bill so they can confidently tip the server when they are out to eat with friends or on a date one day.

5. Make money

If our children drive a car, carry around an iPhone with a data plan, or wear name-brand clothing and shoes, they undoubtedly need to contribute to paying for these privileges.

Even if we can afford a comfortable lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that we should hinder our child from learning the valuable life skills of working and earning money. 

Can you come alongside your son or daughter and help them resell things online or start a business washing windows or mowing lawns? I’m also a big advocate of having teens get summer jobs in the community- at local restaurants and retailers like we used to do back in the day. 

READ: WHY MY TEENS WILL SPEND THE SUMMER WORKING IN A RESTAURANT

6. Manage money

If our children are going to make money, they need to learn to manage it.

Help your child open a bank account eventually attached to a checkbook or debit card. Teach them how to go into a bank branch and talk to the teller and help them manage their account online.

If your child isn’t old enough to work yet, another way for them to learn to manage money is by giving them a consistent monthly allowance. Don’t pay your child for their performance or for doing chores. But instead, provide them with an allowance for being a valuable part of your family.

READ: 5 TIPS TO GIVING KIDS AN ALLOWANCE

7. Contribute to the household

Everyone in our home is expected to pitch in, for the good of the family team, without getting paid a stipend for it. If you live in the house, you get to help take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, help with meals, and clean this or scrub that.

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Your child should have repetitive contributing work that benefits the good of the entire household and not just responsibility for caring for their stuff.

8. Fill out paperwork

Come alongside your tweens and teens and begin teaching them how to fill out their camp, sports, and medical paperwork to the best of their ability now so that they are comfortable filling out their job and college applications one day. 

Filling out paperwork is a pain that none of us enjoy, but it’s a fact of life that our older children can certainly handle.

READ: 3 THINGS YOU NEED TO TEACH YOUR HIGH SCHOOLER BEFORE THEY GO TO COLLEGE

9. Know pertinent information

I was driving my daughter’s friend home, and she couldn’t tell me where she lived. The 14-year-old knew her address but couldn’t tell me the major crossroads near her house. Her cell phone was dead, and she didn’t know her Dad’s phone number either.

The adult kindly driving our child home shouldn’t need a data plan to get them there. Our child should know parents’ phone numbers and how to direct an adult to the vicinity of their home without an app. Teach your son or daughter the major crossroads near your home and how to navigate the local area using their brain instead of a device.

10. Make a meal

The summer season is a perfect time to teach our sons and daughters how to navigate the kitchen.

Our younger children can make and pack their lunches for camp, while our older ones can come alongside us and learn to cook dinners for the entire family once in a while. It’s also essential to take the time to teach your child how to navigate the grocery store and shop smart.

Grab my Kitchen and Summer Skills Lists in my ‘How to Create A Summer of Significance in 2021 Printable Pack HERE!

11. Laundry from start to finish

  Teach your child the task of doing their laundry from start to finish.

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  “Very few people have a washing machine that’s more complicated than a tablet. If they can work an iPad, they can do laundry,” said childhood expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa, whose eight-year-old son made a YouTube video teaching college students how to do laundry.

Take the time this summer to teach your child to do their laundry from start to finish. 

READ: 8 THINGS YOU SHOULD STOP DOING FOR YOUR TEEN

We must remember that one of our main goals as a parent is to teach our children what they will need to know when they leave our home for adulthood. Use summer break as an opportunity to strengthen your son or daughter’s set of life skills.

What life skills will you be striving to teach your child this summer?

High school graduation time can be such a busy, bittersweet season. We must take the time and make an effort to find ways to celebrate our children and show them how valued they are.

Take the time to do the little things that can make a significant impact and make your graduate feel loved on their special day and beyond!

Here are 5 ways to create more meaning for your high school graduate

1. Create a School Years Photo Album

What have you done with all of those school pictures through the years? Take the time to gather them and quickly put them in my You Are Loved School Days Keepsake Album for an easy yet meaningful graduation gift.

Get more information or purchase your You are Loved School Days Keepsake Kit HERE! Everything you need to effortlessly create it is included, minus the photos.

2. 18 Letters of Love

For our daughter’s 18th birthday, I asked 18 women who have influenced her life to each write her a letter telling her how much she is loved. A collection of letters of love is a perfect idea to do for a graduation gift as well.

You could even ask loved ones to include their high school graduation photos and talk about what life was like for them after graduating high school and any advice they have for your child!

I laughed and cried reading all of the beautiful sentiments of love and encouragement expressed to our daughter in these cards. I’m so happy I took the time to ask family, friends, employers, and other mentors to contribute to this meaningful gift that will last a lifetime.

3. Create a Childhood Clothesline

If you have saved special clothing items from your son or daughter’s childhood, pull them out of the bin and hang those items from birth through their senior year on a ‘clothesline’ for their graduation celebration. This display made such a great decoration for our sons’ graduation, and all I had to buy was the clothesline and pins.

4. Display Childhood Photos and Yearbooks

My motto is to use what you already have to create meaningful celebration centerpieces. Pull out the yearbooks and display adorable photos from the past. Add a little confetti, and you’ve got a perfect celebratory table setup.

Why not recreate a precious photo from the past and then display them together!

5. Purchase Unique to Your Graduate Decorations

Nothing makes a person feel more special than something dedicated solely to them. I order these personalized high school and college logo embellishments from my fellow writer friend Marybeth Bock for my graduates. Purchasing Class of 20** tableware in school colors also brings more meaning to your setup. I like to order our graduation partyware from Oriental Trading.

6. Give Personalized Gifts

My go-to gift for the graduates in our lives is personalized stationery with the graduate’s name and college logo from Arizona-based mom Pretty Paper Club. Or how about a new Bible embossed with your graduate’s initials?

What ideas do you have for making high school graduation celebrations more meaningful?

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When I was growing up, the subject of money was taboo. It’s no wonder I struggled with overspending and compiling significant debt as a young adult. I worked two jobs, yet I didn’t have the skills to properly manage my money because I’d never learned how to do so. 

Therefore, I knew through my financial struggles that I wanted to do my best to raise my children with stronger financial skills. What they then did with that knowledge would be up to them as adults.

How can we raise money smart kids today?

We can teach them from a young age (or as teenagers) how to earn, spend, save and give their money away.

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5 Ways to Raise MONEY SMART KIDS

1. Model conscious spending habits

Let your children see you consciously save, spend and give away your money as they grow up in your home. Let them see your spending decisions match your values. Talk about how you choose to save money in one area so that you can spend in another.

Maybe you purposely buy a lesser expensive car or house than what you can afford so that you instead have money to take a memory-making family vacation or have money to give away to people in need.

Perhaps you teach your kids how to stretch their dollar by modeling the value of shopping at thrift stores, resale retailers, and consignment shops. Shopping second-hand is good for the environment as well as for our wallets.

Explain to your kids that the less you spend on material items, the more you have to spend on experiences that matter. Be conscious of what you choose to spend your money on because your children are paying attention.

2. Consider ways for your child to earn money

There are so many ways to help even young children begin to earn their own cash today.

Teach your children the value of recycling and that by helping our environment, you can also build up your bank accounts. When our kids were young, we lived in California, where recycling plastic water bottles and aluminum cans can earn you cash in hand.

Now we take our already read books to Half Price Books and our outgrown clothes to consignment shops for the kids to earn cash. Our older kids sell items on online sites like Offer up, eBay, or Poshmark.

How could your son or daughter begin to earn their own money before they’re old enough to get a job in the community?

3. Give your kids a consistent allowance to manage

Giving an allowance is a way that we can begin to teach our kids how to save, spend and donate their money.

An allowance isn’t earned in our home but instead given as an opportunity for our kids to learn how to budget. Our kids are learning how to manage their money, and the goal is for them to see that there’s not an unlimited supply of cash. They are learning to make choices when it comes to their spending and saving.

READ 4 TIPS FOR GIVING KIDS AN ALLOWANCE 

One weekend our daughter used her allowance money to go to the water park with her friends. When she came home, she said she couldn’t believe how expensive it was. She would never know those waterpark outings were expensive if we continued to pay for them.

Allow your child to feel the pain of their spending choices now while the stakes are low.

4. Have your child open and manage their bank account

It’s a good idea to have your children each open a bank account early in life. After beginning with a savings account, they can eventually begin a checking account, possibly with a debit card attached, so they can start to learn how to use banking tools successfully before leaving home.

Teach your children how to deposit and withdrawal money in the bank and online. I prefer my kids still go into the bank branch and work face to face with the tellers, even though most of the transactions could be done online.

5. Invest in tools to help you teach financial lessons

Engage your children in learning about important financial concepts in your mission to raise Money Smart Kids. One online resource to help you do that is Dave Ramsey’s self-study finance courses, which happen to be on sale right now for $19.99.

We purchased one of these personal finance courses for my senior sons during the pandemic, and we sat as a family on the living room couch doing it together, even though they acted like we were torturing them, making them do it.  

I do not work with Mr. Ramsey or make one cent off of his products, but I think it’s an excellent resource for those of you wanting to teach your children more about personal finance!

The Allowance Game was a family favorite when our kids were growing up! If you’ve got elementary school-aged kids, grab this board game at Lakeshore Learning HERE.

How are you striving to raise Money Smart Kids in your home?

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The Allowance Game was a family favorite when our kids were growing up! If you’ve got elementary school aged kids, grab this board game at Lakeshore Learning HERE

How are you striving to raise Money Smart Kids in your home?

Promposal-Production-Is-it-Modern-Day-Chivalry-or-Nonsense

It’s that time of year when teenage boys around America are expected to put on a production to ask a girl to the traditional high school dance.

Is the Promposal modern-day chivalry or plain nonsense?

After a long day of school and varsity baseball practice, my son and his friend trudged through our house carrying an armload of art supplies and poster boards.

When my son should be spending time on his physics homework or hanging out with his grandparents who are visiting from out of town, he has to design a sloganed poster to invite his girlfriend to the upcoming junior prom.

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My parents, who attended high school prom together, can’t believe this is what’s going on today. Knowing teenage boys don’t naturally do this sort of thing, my Dad asked his grandson and his friend if they feel like decorating posters? 

“Not really. But, the girls want us to do it.”

Sure they like the girl. Sure they want to take her to the dance. It’s been a high school rite of passage through the generations. Neither my Grandpa, my Dad nor my husband ever had to invite their date to prom with anything other than their words, so why are our sons now expected to conjure up a themed presentation to ask a girl to the dance?

As if teenage guys don’t have enough on their plate today, they must now come up with a cheesy proposal production as is the societal norm. He’d better not think of asking a girl to the dance without at least a decorated poster board in hand or he would be considered unthoughtful, uncaring or rude.

Why are our sons expected to put on a proposal production to ask a date to prom?

What happened to just a good guy asking a sweet girl to the high school dance?

How come that’s no longer acceptable?

Why do we insist on turning what should be a simple invitation into a production today?

Because there wouldn’t be anything post-worthy for social media if there weren’t a production, and we all know how much everyone loves a good curated photo for the feed.

And forget the decorated poster board. Some take it to another level buying oversized teddy bears, shoes, jewelry, and the list goes on. I’m sure the bigger, the better. Check out this post or your kids’ social media feeds if you don’t believe me.

The promposal production seems like another great way to try and one-up each other too. Oh, your guy only decorated a poster for you? Well, check out what my man (or his Mom) did for me…. and the comparison game is on. Just what our youth need.

I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around the concept and why we’re accepting this nonsense to be commonplace now.

What type of marriage proposal are girls going to expect one day if they need a song and dance to accept an invitation to a high school dance?

Our daughter said she thinks the promposal idea is “cute.” I explained to her that it’s adorable when she and her girlfriends make posters for one another’s birthdays and bring them to middle school to celebrate. There is nothing cute about expecting a young man to design a presentation to ask you to prom.

Let’s stop putting pressure on kids to have to put on a post-worthy show for what should be a simple invitation to a timeless high school event.

Let’s put our efforts into raising confident and kind young men and women who don’t need a showy production to feel good about themselves or to enjoy their lives.

Let’s begin to tell our kids that a post-worthy promposal production is not necessary.

I love this time of year. Our Arizona weather is just perfect; the kids competitive sports are over (or should be, ahem… soccer…. that’s for another post) and my husband’s hockey job is coming to an end after yet another season. Our evenings and weekends tend to be more relaxed making time for bike rides around the neighborhood, board games and the occasional little league baseball game and practice. We all welcome this simpler pace.

Simplifying is one of the main reasons we are pushing pause on our normal existence. People either think we’re out of our minds for wanting to do this cross country RV trip as a family or others say they are envious and would love to do it. Many tell me stories of how they traveled around the US every summer hitting different spots with their families growing up. Family travel builds connections. It says to each member you are important and worth investing in.

I’m aware that what we’re about to do is not feasible for most people financially or time wise. I am fully aware of the blessings we have been bestowed in order to pull this off. I don’t take any of that for granted. I thank the Lord every single day.

But, if we’re being honest… how many people would really do this trip if they could? One friend called it very courageous and that’s stuck with me. I think she’s right. What we’re about to do definitely takes courage on many levels.

Right now, I relish my Mondays because after hectic weekends alone with the kids, my house and time is quiet once everyone is off to school. I can actually think straight. I know a lot of us, whether we stay home with the kids or not, relish that time when the kids go off to school and we’re alone with ourselves. There’s not going to be a lot of quiet time in 43 feet of living space with 6 people up in it for close to a year. Whoa. There will be a lot of prayers going up for patience I’m sure.

Let’s look at it this way. What if you found out you only had a week left to live, or a month or even a year? Would you be so worried about sending the kids off to school every day? Would you still race around to all the sports practices, games and lessons? Or would you drop it all and do what you’ve always wanted to do with them, whatever that may be for you?

See this is how I look at this trip. Do I really want to be home (road) schooling per say? Not exactly. Like I said, selfishly I enjoy those quiet hours of each day that are mine and that the kids are actually being taught by licensed individuals. But, I will have many quiet hours ahead of me. With four kids born within 18 months, our home is going to get quiet fast.

Parenting in the day to day can feel monotonous. Take time to think about the heart of your family and what you want your kids to take away when they grow up and move to the next phase of life. Think about simplifying your family routine. I say stop the madness even just for a little while. Push pause. I don’t think you will regret it.

We are fast approaching the teen years and our triplets are without cell phones. I know, can you even believe it? What kind of parents are we?

Let’s pause and take a close look at our kids.

Our oldest is all about the social and would not be able to focus on anything else but that device, so he’s out. Not mature enough. 

The middle man probably would rarely look at the thing, but he would most likely lose it in the first week anyway. Not focused enough.

Our third born is completely responsible enough for a phone, but is the one to say, why do I need one anyway? Not interested enough. 

And baby girl just turned 11 and in our book is way too young for such a device. Not old enough.

According to these four, they are the only ones left on the face of the earth without a cell phone. Perfect. They don’t realize this, but this is exactly the point! Don’t you want your family to be different?

Here are 10 Reasons We are Not Getting Our Tweens a Smartphone

1. Smartphones are a privilege

When did our parents allow us the same privileges and material items that they had when we were growing up? Yeah, right.

I find it so interesting that this isn’t the case anymore. What do 12-year-olds need with a cell phone and why are we, as parents, so concerned with being able to be in constant communication with our kids? I think it’s very unhealthy. The boys are away at church camp this weekend and it is very strange to not be able to get ahold of each other. But, it’s okay and I think healthy for all of us to learn to do so.

2. Smartphones hinder delayed gratification

I want my kids to be able to learn to wait for something. Delayed gratification is a good thing. Just because you are turning 13 and because it’s what everyone has and is doing, isn’t a good enough reason. Every child that jumps in the car with us to go anywhere, whips out their phone and mine lean over to assist in playing their game of choice or checking out social media post updates.

It makes me sad that kids don’t even know how to just “be” in the car anymore. I know we are happy when they have these gadgets in hand because it honestly means more quiet time for us, but I also know it can be detrimental. Can you imagine a road trip without a gadget in our child’s hand? We don’t even want to think of it.

3. Smartphones can be a crutch

The other night, baby girl’s bestie was spending the night because it was simply more convenient for all involved. But, she was calling her Mom (who was out to a nice adult dinner) at 10:00 pm saying that she couldn’t sleep and she wanted to go home. Boy, do I get that. I remember feeling like that a time or two growing up on sleepovers. The difference is I had no cell phone to call my Mom, so I suffered through.

And you know what? I made it through and learned from it I’m sure. I learned that it wasn’t so bad after all or I learned that I didn’t want to do that again. Lesson learned either way. I love this girl and love her parents even more, so this isn’t a judgment, just an observation of what we are creating and I notice it on a regular basis.

4. Smartphones distract students at school

I was in one of my son’s 6th-grade classes and the teacher was having to tell students that they could use their phones to research the project but she would be walking around to make sure no one was texting or using the phone in any other way.

Do teachers today really need one more thing to worry about?

I had to sign a waiver for a different teacher saying if the students could use their phones in class. I signed it and checked the no box. They don’t even have a phone, so of course, the answer would be no, right? A few weeks ago, the teacher called to tell me that I was the only one who said no and that I may want to rethink my answer. So she sent back the form again so I could say, Yes, my sons can use someone else’s phone in class. This is crazy to me.

5. Smartphones hinder social relationships

Where we live, ‘dating’ is rampant in middle school. It is very easy to fall into a ‘relationship’ behind texts and social posts. I definitely remember having an eye for boys at this age, so I get it. But, I certainly wasn’t telling ANYONE about it besides my very best friend, who was telling me her deepest secrets at the same time.

We are losing all innocence giving kids too much too soon. My kids need to mature a bit and figure out who they are and become somewhat secure in that before they can handle navigating a relationship over texts and Snapchat.

6. Smartphones should be for working people

Why are we willing to fork out $40 a month or so for kids to have a phone and data plan? We’re not kidding when we ask our kids how they plan to pay for this privilege. We as parents need to make sure we are creating a desire to work toward something in our kids so that they are able to buy the things they want one day.

7. Smartphones prohibit independence

Our kids don’t need phones because everyone around them has one that they can use. This happens a lot. Although, when they try and call from a friend’s phone from the bus or school to try and plan a hangout, I have to remind them that this is why they don’t have their own phone. I don’t want to hear from them. Love them dearly, but we can talk in person when they get home. Musical son has to go into the school office once in a great while to let us know that his lesson got done early or was cancelled so we can come to get him.

Can you imagine a child having to go use the school’s landline? Wow. It is possible….Otherwise, our son has to sit outside and just wait……. old school style.

8. Just because we can afford a smartphone, doesn’t mean we need to buy it

Yes, we can absolutely afford phones and family data plans. But, I think this is another powerful message to our kids. Just because we can afford something, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to spend our money on. Our kids have become very aware of people (from friends to the working poor that receives free meals at St. Vincent de Paul where we serve) that don’t have “money” yet have iPhones. They would never be able to observe and question this with their own phone in hand.

9. Smartphone ownership can cause entitlement

Kids should not feel entitled to own any material item. I guess when they are 15 we will be talking about how we’re not buying them cars either…. Before you feel too bad for my tweens, you need to know that they are still very much a part of their iGeneration as they each own an IPAD and have Instagram accounts. One friend advised we do this so the kids could dabble in reality so that they aren’t obsessed with social media and technology when they get to high school. I agree that it is good for our children to begin learning to tread these technological waters, but in moderation.

10. Why do they need a smartphone again?

I know people have absolute reasons for their kids to own phones- having an only child, older siblings who have them or kids who are going back and forth between homes due to divorce. To each, his own and only you know your family dynamic. Our family just doesn’t have good enough reason right now. Turning 13 isn’t a good enough reason for us.

What age do you think is appropriate for buying a child a smartphone?