Over the last month, we have been talking about preparing for productivity in the summer. Schedules change, kids take over, and your desire is to make memories — not to-do lists! But one thing we haven’t talked about yet is “assisting” your school age children in making sure their summer is productive too…instead of ending up with a three-month Netflix binge-fest! Of course, we desire freedom and relaxation for our kids, but we also want them to function as human beings – not tweenage/teenage zombies who wake up at 1pm and spend the day raiding the refrigerator.  So, here are my top five tips for helping those precious children of yours be more productive… without creating rifts in your relationship.  

#1: No sleeping the day away.

I think having your kids out of bed between 8-9am is ideal. Here’s why: We need routine – ALL of us. So enforcing a wake time allows them to start their day with a routine. Sometimes, we try to make bedtime the rule and what happens is they go to bed and toss and turn for two hours because we let them sleep until noon. Plain and simple: the earlier they get up, the earlier they go to bed. Before you know it, they have created their own routine.

Teenagers do need a lot of sleep, but waking up late means waking up lazy! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want lazy children in my house all day.

So…how do you establish this without them losing their mind? Allow them to have some free time when they first get up. Don’t summon them from bed right into a list of chores. Everybody needs a minute in the mornings — give them theirs.

#2: Give them household responsibilities.

Here’s the key: you must be extremely clear of the how, when, what, where, and why in the creation of this list. A vague chore list will result in both of you being frustrated.

Another suggestion: Try not to make the list full of things they really can’t stand doing. Think about your to-do list everyday. I doubt that you allow 90% of it to be things you despise doing. If you have a kiddo who is an organizer, let them organize. If they love to be outside, give them chores outside. Think about what they are really good at when you assign tasks.

If you’re a swHw woman, you should be familiar with delegating well and knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t let that teaching go out the window just because it’s your child. Right seats and right roles work at home too!

#3: Let them create their set schedule, and remind them to schedule in freedom.

If you’ve been in Productivity Academy with me, you know how important it is to schedule your day. Those responsibilities that we gave them in #2 need to be scheduled into their day, but we should try our very best to let them decide when they want to accomplish them.

This will require discipline from both of you. If they say they want to do their chores in the evening, let them, even if you would prefer morning.  However, if they come to you because a friend invites them over and they have yet to finish their work, you have to say “no.” The chores have to be finished, and then the fun happens. Sticking to your guns here will teach your kids to schedule ahead.

#4: Invest in training, classes, or resources in their areas of interest/giftedness.

If your child is an athlete, look for opportunities for them to train and workout. If they are musically gifted, get them extra lessons. If they love to serve others, help them find somewhere to volunteer. Be thinking about how you can encourage them in their gifts with their extra time. Asking them to wake up early and “be productive,” but not equipping them with the right tools to do so doesn’t make sense.

#5: Spur them along in their walk with Christ.

Encourage their daily quiet times (Yes – that goes on their schedule!) Then, have open conversations about what God is teaching them. We have to be careful with this one though. As a student pastor’s wife, I’ve seen parents push so hard they’ve put a wedge between their child and a walk with the Lord. It’s unintentional, of course, but devastating nonetheless. That’s why I encourage you to SPUR them, not boss them.

We will never have control over our child’s relationship with Jesus, so we might as well get used to letting go of it right now. But I will tell you, you do have power in the situation and that power is through prayer! Bold, loud prayers that you can pray in the quiet of your heart, or out loud and over your child at anytime. My prayer for my girls stays mostly the same, and it is simply this: “Dear Lord, capture their hearts!” It’s simple, but powerful.

And just in case we need the nudge ourselves: be an example in this. We can’t expect them to make time for God if we don’t.

What works in your home? I’d love for you to add your tips in the comments.