Summer Expectations for My Family

In 2014–six years ago when this article first published–my life looked a lot different.  My oldest was nine, going to summer camp for the first time, and my youngest at four was being dragged around with his older brother and sisters.   Because of Covid-19 and the world being turned upside down, I need this article today even more than I needed it six years ago.   It has been updated and simplified to help your family.

summer at home
Whether we realize it or not, we all have expectations for the summer. Even this year with beaches closed and events canceled, we still have expectations. Maybe we are looking forward to lazy evenings in the back yard, or read alouds in the mornings.

Maybe we are hoping for easy childcare solutions while we navigate working from home.  Maybe we are hoping to go back to work. There is so much we are thinking about and holding on to. 

Cedar Lake Farm

Cedar Lake Farm — Image Courtesy Three Rivers Park District

This summer, what I hope for may not be the same as what you hope for.  With that, I am fairly confident that you want a healthy summer.

Healthy Summer Expectations–Click below to shoot to your expectation of choice.

Lakeside Commons Park (image courtesy City of Blaine)

Family Time Summer Expectations

Everyone had their own duties for each morning,and we call it Your High Five.  I learned about this simple system through a site called Frugal Living NW, and we’ve been using it for years.  Every finger in the High Five represents a task. 

  1. Get dressed
  2. Make your bed
  3. Brush your teeth
  4. Put your pajamas away
  5. Do your daily chore

Then, they get breakfast.

Amy's Cupcake Shoppe

Enjoying a family treat

Click here for Summer Fun

Screen Time Expectations

And especially right now, I’m guessing that one of your things is trying to navigate screen time.

Have come up with some screen time rules? Because if you are like me or any other mother in this country, you may be hearing this–“can I play on your phone?”–about one hundred gajillion times leading up to the break.  And also if you are  like me, you know you couldn’t take a whole summer of that.  

88 days of begging screen zombies looking for another hit.

This summer I am anticipating a lot of non-busy days at home. I knew I needed help navigating screen time, so I started doing some research.  I asked a lot of people what they were doing and looked up ideas online.   I learned about ticket systems and charts and summer idea-jars and boredom busters and 33 ideas that cost less than $10, etc.

Click Here for Summer Bucket List

None of this was going to work for me.  I need it to be immediate.  I cannot keep track of tickets or charts.  

Here are the three basics of screen time that I settled on for my own family: 

  1. Screen time is an after-lunch activity. Limited to one hour.
  2. 30 minutes of reading and 60 minutes of outdoor play must be completed in the morning before screen time is approved
  3. If you have a negative attitude following conclusion of screen time today, you will lose it for tomorrow.

Get them off the computer with these experience gifts

Alone Time Expectations

Everyone needs sometime alone even if the person in question is an extrovert.  As a Flaming Extrovert myself, I am learning that to be healthy, I need some quiet time to think.  As do kids.  We can’t be creative or active if we don’t give ourselves space and time.

For families with younger children, the alone time can come at nap time.  Littles need to sleep during their alone time and moms and dads need that space to breathe deeply.

For families with kids preschool age and older, it gets a little trickier with expectations.  If you have a family with one or two kids, maybe you schedule an alone time each day.  It can be the same each day or be flexible.  But it should be set well in advance and not just sprung on the kids by each other or by the parent.

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If you have more kids, alone time can be more fluid.  Each child can let the family know when they want their alone time and you can determine if that is a possibility. We have set our kids’ beds as their alone space.  Since they share rooms, everyone needs to respect each other’s beds. Parents, we get to cross that boundary as the caretakers of the family, but even so, we must be respectful and compassionate.


These are my family’s basic summer expectations.  If these exact expectations don’t work for you, take some time to decide on a handful that do.  I would keep the number to three or less.

family travel

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