14 House Rules to Make Summer with Your Teens Less Stressful (and More Fun)

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 14 House Rules to Make Summer with Your Teens Less Stressful (and More Fun)

I love summer! After months keeping up with a rigid schedule, it’s exactly what my family needs to unwind and regroup before everything kicks into high gear again in the fall.

But as relaxing and chilled out as summer is with my kids, it also brings added stress having them home. Without our typical schedule to keep us “on track,” everyone is going in different directions and my kids tend to push a few boundaries in hopes that the chilled-out vibe of summer will apply to my rules as well. 

To keep our home life running on an even keel, I have a few simple summertime house rules to make life far less chaotic and so much more fun! They’re not iron-fist rules… after all, it is summer – just a few guidelines I need my kids to follow to make life easier for them and me. 

Here are 14 house rules to make summer with your teens less stressful (and more fun)!

14 House Rules to Make Summer with Your Teens Less Stressful and More Fun!


#1 If You Make a Mess, Clean It

If you make a mess, clean it. If you take it out, put it away. If you open it, close it. Chances are, you try to enforce this house rule regardless of whether it’s summer or not, but it becomes even more important during the summer when the kiddos are home. (If we didn’t have this rule, we’d spend half our life cleaning, putting things away, and closing cereal boxes and cabinet doors.)

#2 Household Chores Aren’t an Option

Maybe it’s different in your house, but I tend to cut my kids a little slack during the school year primarily because they have so much going on with school, homework, extracurriculars, clubs, and a part-time job. But when summer hits, all bets are off (unless, of course, they’re working a full-time job or keeping up with an internship.) With more free time on their hands, everyone is expected to pitch in when it comes to sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, yard work, emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, pet duty, and other household chores. Heads up kids, mom is not the maid. 

#3 Sleeping in is Okay… in Moderation

It’s summer… and when you’re a teenager, nothing feels better than chilling out and sleeping in until noon, 1 o’clock or even later. And, occasionally, that’s fine! But every day? Nope. 

#4 Video Games & Bing-Watching TV is Okay… in Moderation

I get it. They love Fortnite and all their other favorite video games. They love asking their friends over and binge-watching their favorite Netflix series. (I’m talking serious binge-watching – like hours) Who doesn’t love crashing on the couch and chilling out for hours? But everything in moderation. Do it once a week (or better yet, once every two weeks). Instead, get outside, plan an adventure, do something productive – virtually anything else. 

#5 Need a Ride? Put it on the Family Schedule

Summer in my house has always been a bit nuts. When my kids were younger (my kids drive now), they were always asking for a ride somewhere. One needed a ride to a friend’s house across town. Another one needed a ride to the mall. And, another one wanted to be picked up (at midnight, of course) at a party they were invited to. I felt like I was the family on-call chauffeur.

To keep things more organized so I could actually enjoy the summer myself, I had a family schedule on my fridge. Everything from vacations, family time, doctor’s appointments, and when my kids needed a ride or needed to be picked up was on the schedule. It worked like a charm. 

#6 Going Somewhere? I Need to Know (Oh, and I Will Ask Questions)

Just because it’s summer and everything is more chill, doesn’t mean we should “chill” when it comes to knowing where our kids are going, who they’ll be with, who’s driving, whether the parents will be home, and what time they’re coming home. Summer or not, keep asking questions (even if it bugs your kids). 

#7 Check-Ins are Necessary

And, it’s not just questions we’ll be asking. We need periodic “check-ins” so we know you’re okay. (Sorry kids… get over it.)

#8 Get a Part-Time Job

Whether they’re 13 or 19, they’re old enough to get a part-time job over the summer. The younger ones can help neighbors with yard work, babysit, be a mother’s helper, or even do jobs around the house for money.

The older ones can work as a cashier, wait tables, stock shelves, be a camp counselor, or any number of other jobs that allow them to bring in some spending money. Plus, they’ll be learning valuable life skills!

#9 Do Something Productive Every Day

Whether it’s working a few hours at their part-time job, working as an intern for a local company, volunteering a few hours to help with an important cause, organizing their closet, or spending an hour studying for the ACT or SAT, encourage your teen to do something productive every single day. The more productive they are and the more they check things off their list (and see the fruits of their labor), the more they’ll actually want to be productive. 

#10 Family Time Matters

I know my kids want to spend just about all their time with friends hanging out and making memories, but I want to make memories, too… with them! So, that means if I plan a nice dinner, a BBQ, a vacation, or an afternoon doing something fun as a family, I want my kids with me. No eye-rolling, no “OMG… do I have to?” and no “Nah, I don’t want to go.” Participation is not an option. (I don’t think that’s asking too much as long as I’m respectful of their time and schedule.)

#11 Curfew Will Be Enforced

I know it’s summer and everything is more relaxed, but regardless of the season, our teens need boundaries and rules. Sure, we want to be flexible, cut them some slack and let them stay out later on occasion, but they need to know our curfew rules (and other summertime rules) upfront as well as the consequences they’ll face for breaking them. 

#12 Friends Are Welcome Providing

My kids love having their friends over during the summer. And, for the most part, we’ve always had an open-door policy when it comes to their friends. But we also have rules. My kids (and their friends) are in charge of cleaning up any messes they make. Their friends will be respectful of me, my husband, my kids and my home. And, although I’m all for letting my kids and their friends grab a drink and snack, I don’t want to come home to an empty fridge and pantry because they had the munchies and decided to eat me out of house and home. 

#13 Don’t Borrow or Take Anyone’s Things Without Asking First

Whether my kids want to borrow my charger, their dad’s iPad, their brother’s favorite hoodie, or their sister’s bran new shirt, they have to ask first. I don’t know what it is about summer, but sibling feuds ramp up and everyone seems to think everything is theirs for the taking. Put a house rule in place that borrowing is fine, providing they ask first AND they return it. 

#14 Have FUN!

It’s summer! I want my kids to have fun! I don’t want them wasting it sleeping in until 1 o’clock every day or playing video games all day. (Seriously… mama’s gonna get mad.) Get outside, plan a fun adventure with your friends, build something, take up a hobby, plan a sleepover with friends, go camping… anything to create fun memories! Our kids have no idea how precious (and fleeting) these summers are. Let’s encourage them to make the most of them!

If you enjoyed reading, “14 House Rules to Make Summer with Your Teens Less Stressful (and More Fun),” check out these other posts!

12 Ways to Help Your Teen Have a Productive Summer (and Still Have Fun)

Teen Summer Bucket List: 99 Things to Do That are Cheap or Free

50 Healthy Summer Snacks for Teens that Aren’t Boring

15 Summer Snack Boards the Whole Family Will Love

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