05/28/2014 01:04 pm ET Updated Jul 28, 2014

Switching Into Summer Gear

My kids have been home for summer break for four days, in dog years.

It's always a bit of a transition before we get in the summer groove. This morning alone, I dropped one off at the train station, one off at his friend's and the third one rode along with me to work so he could drop me off and therefore use my car.

I am not complaining. I am bragging. After spending this long, lonely winter without them, it is fine with me if I have to get up earlier in order to drive them back and forth across town a half dozen times. If this means that they have something to do, it is worth it.

When I was a kid, the one sentence that I remember saying to my mom all summer long was, "What is there to do?"

I remember being so bored that I don't think I would've required sedation for surgery.

Then Mom would suggest that I snap green beans, help her can tomatoes, or she'd hand me a dish towel. And if we wanted to go somewhere, it never occurred to any of us that someone would drive us. Dad always suggested we take the shoe leather express.

There is a maternal law written somewhere that says that activity suggestions made by parents are always the childhood equivalent of offering to poke sticks in their eyes.

So instead, I'd slink to the front yard to resort to my back up plan for ultra-boredom -- looking for four leaf clovers.

If I was feeling more ambitious, I'd head around back to the swing set where I would attempt to get the front legs to jump, titillated by the dreadful tickle of the idea that I might flip the entire swing set over on myself and make my entire family regret that they didn't pay more attention to me when I was alive.

Even a trip to the emergency room seemed better than summer boredom.

Today, my preteen habit of needing something to do is still going strong in my parenting. Only it has morphed into me wanting everyone to do something.

No matter how hard I try to relate to my teenagers sleeping until noon and staying up until what seems closer to the next morning, I can't. It seems unnatural at best and unhealthy at worst to sleep when it's daylight and wake up when it's dark.

In the beginning of summer, I give them three days to sleep all they want. Then I get them up so they can find something to do.

It's all about having a plan, whether it's for your teens in the summer, for your fitness goals or for your life.

If you take a road trip, you need to plug your starting point into your GPA in order to get to where you are going.

Making a plan, though, can be stressful, especially if it's for the entire family. It is stressful to get ourselves into action, and even more so to get our family moving.

So if you are stressed from switching into summer mode, here are some tips to stay on track with your fitness and eating:

- Tell yourself that you have to decide:

You can either eat when you feel stressed and gain weight, or you can learn to tolerate mood swings and get (or stay) thinner.

- Admit that food may comfort you but only temporarily. Afterward, you'll feel worse.

- Find something else to do that also soothes: surf the Web, get a manicure, go to the gym.

- Tell yourself, "I have no choice." If you don't refrain from emotional eating, you strengthen your "giving in" muscle and loosen your ability to control your "snacking" muscle. The more you give in, the easier it is to give in next time. The reverse is also true. The more you resist unplanned snacking, the better able you are to say no the next time.

Soon, our summer transition should be complete. Until then, sticking with your plan will help everyone switch into summer gear.