While most of us look forward to summer sunshine and fun with the family, the reality of family outings is often not very pretty. Whether it’s negotiations over ice cream, siblings fighting in line at the pool, or a tantrum because life isn’t going their way—summers bring a relentless demand upon our parenting skills.

Some children are easy, and some are not. However, the freedom of summer combined with all the goodies can often mean that even the most easy-going children can become a challenge.

Summer Parenting Test: Preparedness To Have Fun Test!

Here’s a good summertime test to find out how enjoyable your summer will (likely) be.

Question 1: “How often does it feel like I am working harder at my children’s enjoyment than they are?”

If you find that it often feels that you are the one working harder than your children to enjoy family outings, then you may want to seek a change. This article becomes very important to a more peaceful, enjoyable summer.

Question 2: “How often do child behaviors (e.g., whining, crying, tantrums, complaints, upsets, etc.) get in the way of enjoying a family outing?”

Again, if this is true for you, then perhaps a change is needed.

Question 3: How often are you ‘dancing around’ your child’s upsets, and going out of your way to avoid a meltdown?

The more your answers fall to the frequent side, then the more likely you need to master my Three Strike Rule. Of course, master these ideas only if you want to keep your sanity!

Summer Sanity: The Three Strike Rule

The Three Strike Rule gives you an amazing formula that supports and strengthens your role as a parent, honors your child’s inherent capacity to learn, and ultimately respects everyone’s right to enjoy fun outings and family vacations.

Here’s how it works. You explain to your children that you have established a general “Summer Outing” rule for all family outings. You further explain what specific positive behaviors you expect in public and that your expectation is always there when out in public. If they bring those positive behaviors with them into the outings, everything will go fine.

You also explain the types of behaviors that will get them in trouble. Fighting between siblings, screaming or yelling, or incessant whining and complaining will all fall under the Three Strike Rule. Also included would be any form of disrespect, property destruction, or even not listening to mom or dad.

Finally, the Three Strike Rule will work like this. Strike One: the first time the children get out of control, you simply take a break. Let them know, “Strike One. We are going to take a break.”

Regardless of what you are doing or what you are engaged in, take your children by the hand and walk to a bench, or an area out of the way, where you can sit quietly. Let them know that once they are perfectly quiet, you will then take five minutes before anyone leaves or moves. If they want to talk, let them know the five minutes starts over again.

Once the five minutes is up, you can return to your swimming, playing, shopping, or dining experience. If, there is not a bench where you are located, make sure you feel free to walk out to the car and sit in the car for five minutes. It has a very powerful effect because the consequence follows close to the heals of their choice.

Strike Two: You then wait for five minutes of silence. After this, then resume life!

Return to your shopping, dining, or whatever recreation you are doing, you continue as if nothing had happened. However, if the children’s behavior is over the line that you have established, you now announce, “Strike Two. We are going to take another short break. Announce, “One more strike, and we are done here.”

Again, drop what you are doing, and find a bench to sit on. If you have to go to the car to allow for the tantrum or whining, then you do so. Once again, you allow for whining or complaining to occur. Only after there is quiet for five minutes do you return.

Strike Three: While it will be unusual for you to get to Strike Three, it sometimes happens. When you reach Strike Three, you let the children know that “you are done for the day.” Wherever you are, or whatever you are doing, pack it up and you head home. As you get to the car, please make sure that you take another five-minute time out before the car moves. This may take a while, as you may be getting a lot of whining, complaining, or outbursts from the children. Just let them have these moments, and wait for the five minutes of silence.

You then return home. If you were at Disney World you go back to your hotel room. If you were at a restaurant you take the food to go, or you could simply walk away and leave it on the table and pay on the way out.

It is essential not to get too concerned about the drama that you will see when you follow through with the Three Strike Rule. For many children, you are going to get some drama. For others, you will get big drama!

Make sure you do not get pulled into the drama. Allow them to have the drama, and just stick to your guns on the consequences. The magic is not in the threat of the third strike. The magic is in the experience of feeling the effects of the third strike!

Stick to the simplicity of this plan, and don’t be afraid to follow through. By the time your real summer fun begins, the kids will be on track.