Someone asked recently, “What are your plans for the summer?”
I replied that this year we are going camp-less. “Our summer is going to be a tween-kid-fest. I’m expecting there will be movies, TikTok, arguing and a lot of icy frappuccinos.” There is one thing I know about parenting a tween, it is not any easier than parenting younger kids.
About this time every year, I sit down with my girls and we write out a list of summer house rules. In fact, we have been using the same summer house rules for a few years now.
This year, however, we decided that we need to make a few adjustments. This is why we are revisiting the summer house rules with tweens in mind.
Summer House Rules for Tweens
Many of the items on our list of house rules will remain the same. For instance, treating each other with respect is a no-brainer…that’s a 24-7 and 365 days a year expectation…right?!
We also uphold the “if you are feeling frustrated, walk away” and “if someone says “stop”, then you need to stop” rules all year round. I have to say, as a parent, I use these rules all…the…time. Tweens are old enough to negotiate their way through most difficult situations, but when things get beyond what they can handle, they know they can always reach out to a parent. So, the tweens have the option to walk away from the situation or to speak to a parent – after they have tried to deal with the situation themselves.
Screen time is my real concern for the coming summer. Both of my daughters have their own iPhones and they have grown a healthy relationship with Netflix over the last few months. Holding to the old “30 minutes a day of screen time a day” is going to be a challenge (understatement).
So, we have negotiated a new screen time rule. 30 minutes per session on a device, with significant breaks in between. As my youngest informed us, spending more than 30 minutes on any given device is bad for your eyesight, posture and mood. Sounds reasonable to me. So, how are we going to manage this time limit? I am a big fan of using timers. Set a 30-minute timer and when the timer goes off, it’s time to get off the phone.
If your child is a video gamer I know this can be challenging. I support taking the “let’s take a break from the game and do x,y,z.” It’s not the end of gaming for the day, just a break. So, they aren’t continuously on a game all day…which can easily happen.
This leads to our newest rule, we will create an activity calendar. My eldest daughter created a list of activities, crafts and recipes that she wants to try over the summer. We will use the list of activities as a starting point and come up with a few creative activities to do each week. Planning out our activities in advance, even if it’s the night before, avoids the early morning arguments over what everyone wants to do for the day. I cannot stand those arguments. By creating the list together the kids take some ownership over the ideas and are more apt to do them.
Another ongoing house rule is the “devices plugged in and out of the bedrooms at night”. My kids’ phones have to always be plugged in overnight…in the kitchen. I have to say this has been a game-changer in our house. Kids (and adults) need to disconnect, and not be tempted to connect, in the evening. Sleep is so important for mental and physical health. We prioritize sleep, even in the summer. Set a time that works for your family (every kid has a different bedtime) and stick to it.
We will be adding some more responsibilities to the list, now that the kids are older. Beyond setting and clearing the table, the kids will be responsible for dinner planning and making at least 1 dinner each week. They will also be responsible for keeping their bedrooms in some sort of order. I’m adding laundry to their list too. Once your kid grows to be taller than you, there is absolutely no reason why she can’t operate the stacked washer/dryer…if I can reach it, so can she.
How to Make Summer House Rules Actually Work
Okay, you might be asking why we need to make summer house rules? The main motivation behind creating summer house rules is to empower my daughters. We created this list of rules together. They participated in the creation of the rules and are therefore responsible for upholding them. Our rules aren’t meant to be restrictive…I know we won’t be quoting them every single day. Our list of house rules is simply a framework that will help bring some routine to the long, hot, summer days.
To be honest, I am really looking forward to this summer. My girls are at a great age. We can travel around our city and explore new neighbourhoods, museums, art galleries and parks. Gone are the strollers and diaper bags…we don’t have to worry about nap time and snack time. What memories will we make this summer? I cannot wait to find out.
Free Printable summer house rules for tweens
Please, don’t feel limited to our set of summer house rules for tweens. Have a conversation with your kids about the rules and make any changes that work for your family. Again, it’s not about making demands of the kids it is about setting some expectations. Add your own ideas to the list. Share this list with your kids and use it to inspire your own list of house rules.
Do you create summer house rules for kids in your house? What has worked in your house?
More summer fun for tweens
Heading out on a road trip with your older kids? Check out our 10 tips for a fun family road trip with tweens
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