The countdown to summer vacation has already begun in our house. It’s been a busy year both inside and outside the classroom. My 11-year-old and 13-year-old are looking forward to 10 weeks of no responsibilities and nothing but around-the-clock fun.

My fellow parents, we know the reality, because we are their eyes and ears. We see squabbling siblings and hear the ever-popular phrase, “there’s nothing to do” usually by week two. It’s like the hustle and bustle of the holiday season — it comes every year, you know it’s coming every year, and you vow this year to do something to stop it. 

So let’s do something! Here are some ideas I’m going to try when summer vacation arrives next month.

1. Embrace Their Enthusiasm

There’s a reason why kids skip from the classroom or high-five each other when exiting the building on that last day. It’s rewarding to know a year of accomplishments and stress is in the books. Celebrate the arrival of summer vacation and high-five right along with them.

2. Ask Them for Summer Vacation Ideas

Are there summer camps they would like to attend? For kids of working parents, summer camps are a reality. Whenever possible, seek your child’s input on summer camps they would like to try.

3. Help Them Understand That Chores Are Still Necessary

While some things do come to a halt once summer hits — homework and daily alarm clocks, mostly — the world doesn’t stop when the last school bell rings. Especially when it comes to chores. It’s important for kids to know that there’s still work to be done around the house. In our house, the chores actually step up a bit during summer because schedules permit it.

4. Find Middle Ground Regarding Expectations

The kids think friends will be hanging out and sleeping over every day. You think they’re going to do weekly online assignments to keep their study skills in tact. Neither is likely to happen. Talk to your kids about what’s realistic for everyone.

5. Find an Activity the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Nightly walks after dinner. Sunday visits to the local ice cream shop. The activity doesn’t matter, but the quality family time does. You’re starting a tradition they’ll associate with summer vacations for years to come. 

With planning and a positive attitude, this summer will be memorable for all the right reasons.