Summer with littles was full of sidewalk chalk and bubble magic.

But as kids got older, summer seemed to change its shape.

All of sudden what used to be so fun, was “lame,” and battles I never thought about fighting seemed to happen more often than I wanted them to.

So, after a few years in those teen and tween trenches, I have learned a few lessons and have a couple tips that, I hope, will allow you to enjoy this new stage with your kids.

Before we begin, let me just say that each family is SO different, as is each child. Your kids may need very little structure and motivation or they may still need a lot and that is okay. No matter what your family dynamics are, these tips will make summer a little smoother and more enjoyable!

The first and most important thing you can do is have a conversation with your teens to set expectations.

They might be thinking that they will be watching movies, hanging with friends, and staying out late every night and you are thinking they will master a new language, earn money, and find a volunteer opportunity.

See how unclear expectations are a recipe for disaster?

Try asking them these questions so you can understand each other clearly.

1. What does your ideal summer day look like?

2. What does your realistic, average summer day look like?

3. What expectations do you think we have of you? Are they fair?

4. How much family time do you think is reasonable?

5. What conflict do you feel like we might have during the summer (curfew, screen time, chores, family time)?

6. Is there any way for us to talk about it now realistically so we can both enjoy more time together?

Remember there is going to have to be some give, take, and compromise on both sides! This is a huge part of parenting teens effectively.

As you come to conclusions, all give and no take won’t work in the long term. Be aware of who you each are and what your triggers might be. If too much screen time, a dirty house or late nights are hard on you, build some parameters in to avoid too many mom freak outs.

If your teen needs friends, loves to sleep in, and is dying for a little more independence, factor those things in as you come to conclusions together.

If you need to write things down, do it! Sometimes, halfway through the summer these parameters are easily forgotten.

Starting the summer with clear expectations will allow for a much more pleasant experience for both kids and parents!