Monday, May 4, 2009

A Dozen Tips for Making your Summer Plan Work - Part 2 of Summer Survival Series

In my last blog we discussed ways to "plan" your summer versus just "letting" things happen. When you plan your summer you can accomplish so much more and have a more valuable, quality summer. When I talk about accomplishing more, I don't just meaning "doing more". You can actually set goals for your children in the four developmental areas as discussed previously and help them to "grow" in those areas, as well as still having much fun and learning at the same time. In fact, many times, they probably will be having so much fun that they won't even realize that you are teaching them something or that they are learning from an activity.

This week I'm going to continue to help guide you through surviving summer ! Now that you have your plans how do you make it all work? Here are a Dozen Tips for Making Your Plan Work!

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing." -- Abraham Lincoln

1. Be sensitive to the fact that kids need time to decompress after the stress and structure of nine months of school. Give them time for extra rest and adjustment the first couple of days (or week) after school's out.

2. Have a summer-launching dinner or event - a special time that indicates to your children that a new, fun, and interesting season of life is beginning.

3. Make necessary adjustments to your house rules. Talk about bedtimes or curfews; afternoon naps or quiet times; chores; how much time will be allowed for television, computer, and video games, and so on.

4. See which activities need advance planning, and make the necessary arrangements in plenty of time.

5. Each week, make a list of any supplies you will need. Collect or purchase them beforehand.

6. Designate and organize places for items and equipment you'll use often. For example, have a shelf or plastic bin for paint and craft clothes for kids to wear while doing messy projects; keep swimming and water-play items -- beach towels, sunscreen, floating toys, flip-flops, goggles - in one convenient place; store yard-game equipment - Frisbees, horseshoes, badminton and croquet gear - in one area in the garage; keep hamburger/hot dog condiments - fast retrieval; put paper plates, cups, napkins, plastic utensils, unbreakable sat and pepper shakers, and a tray near the back door for quick table-setting outside; stock your picnic basket with disposable dishes and utensils for impromptu picnics and park outings.

7. Purchase a large thermos and plenty of small paper cups. Fill the thermos with ice water every morning and put it on your porch or in your garage so kids don't have to come in the house every time they want a drink of water. (Put a trash can nearby, too). Keep an extra bag of ice on hand in the freezer -- ready for extra warm days or a sudden urge for homemade ice cream.

8. At your weekly family forum/meeting, check in with your kids. Is any activity boring, too hard, or too complicated? Expect that some ideas just won't work - which is why you want to stay armed and ready with plenty more.

9. If you have another full or part-time job besides your job as Family Manager, summer can be especially challenging. Discuss your summer goals with your sitter or nanny, then work together to plan activities and excursions. Make sure you get a daily report from both the sitter and your kids in order to ensure that they aren't "tubing out" in front of the TV or computer and are getting plenty of opportunities to exercise their imaginations and their bodies.

10. If your children will be in day care, choose one that comes closest to meeting your objectives. Discuss with the center what goals you have for your children and see what you can do to help accomplish them.

11. If your kids are old enough to stay alone, communicate clearly what you expect of them while you are gone. It's crucial that you listen to their goals as well and help them plan to meet them. Assist them in setting goals for each day that contribute to their growth.

12. If at all possible, arrange to take some vacation days for "at home" time. Use those days to do special projects or go on field trips with your children.

Extra Tips:
  • For Safety's Sake - Invite parents in your neighborhood over for coffee and discuss how you can work together to make your neighborhood a safer place for outdoor play. Create a master contact list so you can call or email each other to report anything suspicious. Designate "safe" houses where children may go if they are being harassed.
  • Establish a certain time for kids to check in for dinner so you don't have to negotiate a new time every day.
All of the information that I am presenting throughout this series is taken from Family Manager CEO, Kathy Peel, and her book The Family Manager's Guide to Summer Survival. I am also currently finishing up development of a workshop based on these tips and Kathy's book. Each participant will get a copy of the book to keep and refer back too! Contact me today if you would be interested in participating in the workshop and learning even more great tips, get all the reference tools I refer to in the posts, and get a copy of Kathy's book!

Wishing you a very FUN, SAFE, and GROWING summer!

Committed to Your Family's SUCCESS!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

All About Family, LLC: What Kind of Summer Will You Have?

All About Family, LLC: What Kind of Summer Will You Have?

What Kind of Summer Will You Have?

Have you realized that there is less than one month left before school is out for most kids? As busy Family Managers, it may have slipped your mind and has just crept up on you!

Have you thought about how you would like to see your kids develop this summer? Do you have any plans yet on how you are going to keep them busy and entertained as well as help them develop qualities that will send them "back to school" smarter, happier, and more confident? A great summer won't just happen by itself. It will take some work and effort on your part as the Family Manager.

I have some GREAT Family Manager tips and tools that will help you do just that! These months are ripe with opportunity for you to help your kids grow in positive ways, to explore and learn new things together, and to make positive memories that will last a lifetime.

First Things First:
The first thing you need to do as a good Family Manager is make a plan for success! You do this by 1) Aiming High, 2) Consult the Experts, 3) Set Aside Time to Plan, 4) Network & Maximize Your Resources, while 5) Remaining Flexible.

1. Aim High - There are four developmental areas where you have the opportunity to help them grow. They are: intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. Think about where your children are in each of these areas; then use the Summertime Development Chart to help you set some goals and nudge your kids toward them.

2. Consult the Experts - Parents should not just automatically assume what your kids will be interested in or what they want to do. Therefore, convene a family meeting BEFORE summer begins and talk about ideas for goals for each child.

You can use the Ideas for Summer Fun and Learning List to find out what they would most like to be doing and learning about. What special abilities or interests would they like to develop? Even preschoolers will have their own ideas. By letting them take part and have some say in the planning process, you are showing them that you care about their interests and feelings. They will feel like they are important and that their opinion matters, which boosts their confidence and self-esteem. You can even have older children do research either on the internet or via community resources for events and activities taking place during the summer months.

3. Set Aside Time to Plan - After your kids have voiced their desires and opinions, find some quiet time to make a list of potential summer activities that are in harmony with your goals for your children's growth, their desires and interests, your budget and resources. While you are planning, you will also want to keep in mind your own time and availability.

Use your list, along with the ideas to help you plan fun activities for each day and/or week. The Weekly Planner and Summer Daily Hit List will help you organize your ideas and activities so you can plan each week/day. It is important to include free time every day so you AND your kids don't feel schedule bound. Also, make sure you plan some activities with other moms and kids so you will have some adult company while the kids play.

4. Network and Maximize Your Resources - It is important to realize that you cannot do everything yourself! Make it a point to network with other parents and maximize the resources in your community.

  • Plan group activities with other parents from your neighborhood, church, etc. You could plan a group picnic and have family games for all ages.
  • Research children's programs in your area, including: summer classes offered through your local library, museum, YMCA, parks & recreation departments, community clubs and centers. Sports programs offered by schools, gyms, or clubs. Vacation Bible school and youth programs offered by churches and synagogues.
  • Summer Camps. Everybody needs a break - including your kids. There are many excellent camps across America, including those run by churches, and athletic associations.
  • Trade out lessons with parents with different abilities and gifts from yours. If you enjoy baking, schedule a time to show your child and theirs how to bake a great cake or cookies. If you've got a green thumb, host a session with the kids about gardening or plant care. Another parent could hold a sewing or woodworking class or teach pre-teen girls about skin care and makeup.

5. Be Flexible - Don't be rigid about the summer schedule or expect perfection. Be ready with Plan B because what looks doable at the beginning of the week may not be right when Friday arrives. Then there is always the chance of inclement weather, or maybe you or your child is just having an "off" day and is too cranky to participate in that day's planned activity.

At the same time, changes in plans can be disappointing to children. When an activity has to be changed suddenly, make sure you take time to talk about why the plans had to change.

"A Schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days . . ." -- Annie Dillard

Look for more Summer Survival tips and strategies in my upcoming blogs. If you would like a copy of the Family Manager tools referenced in this blog, please contact me.

**The information presented here was taken from Family Manager CEO, Kathy Peel's book: The Family Manager's Guide to Summer Survival

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do You Know the Definition of a Family Manager?

What is a Family Manager?

The Family Manager of a home should be one individual in the family who takes the leadership role for seeing that the home and all its operations run smoothly. The position is not about gender or age. It may be a mother who works outside the home, or a stay-at-home dad, or a grandparent who has come to live with the family. Every family is unique.

Family Managers should see their job for what it is: an executive management position of the most important organization in the world -- YOUR FAMILY. The title reflects the true nature of the work that millions of people do every day, whether or not they have another full-time or part-time job outside the home. A worthy goal for all Family Managers is to become efficient, effective and accomplished in their profession.

Assuming the role of Family Manager is a serious undertaking. It is not only a great privilege to have a family, but a big responsibility. The Family Manager Creed expresses the breadth of influence and significance of the job.

The Family Manager Creed:
I oversee the most important organization in the world --
Where hundreds of decisions are made daily,
Where property and resources are managed,
Where health and nutritional needs are determined,
Where finances and futures are discussed and debated,
Where projects are planned and events are arranged,
Where transportation and scheduling are critical,
Where team-building is a priority,
Where careers begin and end. I oversee an organization --
I am a Family Manager!

Becoming an effective Family Manager requires training. The skills and techniques needed to run a home well can be learned in much the same way a business executive learns how to run a company, expressing his or her own leadership style. The Family Management system provides structure and direction, but allows the Family Manager and family members to express their own priorities, personal style, and preferences to the job of running their home.