Posted: May 26, 2014 7:00 AM
Staying up late and sleeping 'til noon? Watching TV for hours on end? These real moms reveal what they let their kids get away with when school's out.
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Ice cream for dinner and more

bowl of ice cream
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Amanda R., mom of three boys ages 12, 9 and 6, says, "The older 'my Dudes' get and the more activities and responsibilities they acquire during the school year, we seem to all long for the carefree-ish days of summer. I'm pretty sure when that last-day-of-school bell rings, we break all of our rules. Shoes=optional — we live on a lake and spend tons of time on the water anyway. Bedtime is basically when they're tired (unless we have a swim meet), which actually works in my favor because we're so busy soaking up the sun all day that they're tired pretty early and asleep when their heads hit the pillow. We all shirk our chores for the most part and that goes for mom too — I serve ice cream for dinner at least once a week (sometimes in the form of a healthful fruit smoothie, but they say it still counts)."

Anything goes

Unless we have a specific reason to get up the next morning, I let the kids go to bed when they want.

Tricia M., mom to 11- and 13-year-old girls, says they have a completely different set of rules during the summer than they do during the school year. She admits, "During the school year we have a strictly enforced bedtime. During the summer, pretty much anything goes. Unless we have a specific reason to get up the next morning, I let the kids go to bed when they want. Part of it is a reward for working so hard during the school year and part of it is because it actually works better with my own work-at-home schedule. The shower schedule also isn't as strictly enforced because they spend so much time in the pool. Pajamas can be worn but never past lunch!"

Toss the clocks... but not the chores list

smashed alarm clock
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Tsara S., mom of four sons ages 14, 16, 18 and 20, says, "I confess that during the summer holidays my boys have absolutely no bedtime. We use the lack of forced schedule to celebrate and discover our own natural timing. When my sons were smaller that meant fantastic and noisy chaos. Now that they are all teenagers it is quite surprising to see how much more they get out of life when the clocks are not the boss. They write movies, choreograph dances, fix broken furniture and more. And I'm just so deliriously happy to have them home that I don't mind getting a little less sleep myself. Oh, and another confession — I actually give my boys chores in the summer. The holidays are fun and free, which means there's more time to pitch in around the house."

Summer adventures

Margene S., mom of three kids aged 5, 7 and 9, says her tradition of giving her kids an "adventure journal" often leads to broken rules in the name of an adventure. She explains of the journals, "They have more time on their hands and I feel like writing is a good way for them to grow. (As well as a fun thing to look back on.) So, a few times a week I give them a prompt [like] 'Discover something new today and write (or draw) about it.' This can often result in some oh-so-creative rule-bending. My son decided he would discover what would happen if he watched TV all night long. My daughter thought she would discover my lipstick and my other son thought discovering snake collecting would be a great idea. I'm always impressed with how they take my prompts and creatively turn it into justification for breaking the rules."

Lofty aspirations meet reality

By the end of the summer I find the list has been checked, changed and even expanded. It never quite looks like what I had expected but it often turns out full and fun in the end.

Amy A., business owner and stay-at-home mom of three kids ages 5, 11 and 15, says, "Before summer break begins I always start out with lists full of fun activities, chores and educational projects for my kids to tackle. I even make my older kids come up with their own lists. My lofty dreams and aspirations for them don't ever look like what I thought they would by the middle of the second week of summer break. To my dismay, they go to bed late, wake up late, eat breakfast and lunch at odd hours and rack up many do-nothing hours to add to their summer resume. None of these things are ever on my pre-summer list. I keep the list hung in my home office and as the lazy days of summer pass we find ourselves beginning to scratch some of them off slowly. Waterpark, check. Library reading, check. Picnic at the park, check. By the end of the summer I find the list has been checked, changed and even expanded. It never quite looks like what I had expected but it often turns out full and fun in the end."

Freedom for a homeschool mom

television and remote
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Christine S. mom of three, ages 2, 4 and 6, says, "Summer break is taking on a whole new meaning of freedom for me because this will be my first one as a homeschool mom. We have a 'no TV before 4:00 p.m.' rule in our house and even then, it depends on their behavior during the day. I'm looking forward to scratching this off the list for the summer. We also have a set schedule for doing our school work and activities. I'm looking forward to just having a free-for-all once summer hits. I'm also thinking that the later they stay up, the longer they'll sleep in. So, yup, a 'normal' bedtime will probably cease for several weeks."

Christine justifies her rule breaking plans by saying, "Because momma needs a break! Being a work-at-home and homeschooling mom has its advantages. But sometimes, a break is needed. And since I am literally their teacher 24/7, I'm looking forward to my break."

Agreed, Christine. We know a lot of moms pull double (or triple) duty as career women, mothers and teachers so we definitely encourage a little lackadaisical summer time fun for you and your kids this summer.

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