Working with and not Against Your Kids This Summer

I originally posted this blog last June. Since kids are currently coming home from college, I thought a rerun would be helpful. 

Every summer I’m caught off guard. I’m thrilled to have my college kids home. In fact, I’m so excited that I frolic into May foolishly believing my kids will return as mature, thoughtful adults who put their parents ahead of themselves and we will live happily ever after or at least till mid-August. Then about two weeks in the All-About-Me Monster knocks on my door. It followed my kids home from college. I ignore it, naively thinking it will leave. When I don’t answer, it barges in and my kids tell it to make itself comfortable anywhere it pleases. Nine months of living for self alone has bred a large All-About-Me Monster.  Summer is my time to re-educate this Monster that it’s not all about it and re-introduce my kids to the reality of living like a family that loves each other.

Last year at this time I came up with a plan that kept me from feeling used.  I placed the responsibility where it belonged (on my kids). In my plan I laid out their responsibilities and the consequences if they chose to blow off their responsibilities.  I will implement a similar plan this year. By having a plan we all start on the same page. The need to constantly remind them to do their chores or be responsible is alleviated because the consequences speak. The plan also addresses my feelings of feeling like the owner/maid/cook of a bed-and-breakfast where I do all the work and receive no pay.

The Garrison Plan for a Fun and Successful Summer:


  1. Everyone has a portion of the house to clean. It can be done any time between Thursday and Saturday at noon. This way the whole house is approximately the same level of clean all week.
  2. If you are here for a meal, you help with dishes.
  3. If you won’t be home for supper, let Mom know by 3pm. Also, if you’re bringing a guest for supper a little warning is good, but I can always make more food.
  4. Each person is responsible to change and wash their bed linens and do their ironing.
  5. In regards to curfew—Dad and I need to know who you are with and when you will be home texting if something changes.


  1. If their part of the house is not cleaned, they must pay the cleaning lady (me) to clean it.
  2. No one leaves the kitchen without helping with the dishes. My security guy (Gene) makes sure of that.
  3. If you don’t call ahead for supper you must pay for the meal you didn’t eat.


Everyone is happier with this plan. I am, of course, because, well, I am not being taken for granted. The kids are because they know what’s required of them and then they have the freedom to have a fun summer. We don’t need to use consequences because our record from past years and the girls’ growing maturity eventually kicks in and we land on the same page. It takes firmness (with a smile) and discipline at the beginning, but it’s worth it.

This plan works for us as our girls are out of high school. It addresses our issues, but hopefully it will help you think about the issues you and your kids struggle with over the summer and come up with your family’s plan for a fun and successful summer. I’d love to hear about your plan and how it’s working.

Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.

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