After another long school year, many of us are glad to see that summer has arrived. More light, more warm weather, and more opportunities to do the things that we love – like spending time with family. With the extra time that summer affords, parents can also work on goals with their kids or create new family habits. Here are some thoughts for keeping everyone engaged – and happy! – over the summer:
- Schedules: Schedules are important for children, no matter the time of year. Following consistent routines, times for meals, and activities provides children with comfort and stability year-round. And when the kids feel more stable, you’ll feel less stressed, too.
- Activities: It can be tempting to try to squeeze every ounce of fun into summer, but don’t feel the need to over schedule your family – it’s okay to have downtime and okay for kids to feel bored. You never know what kinds of creative things they might do with some unscheduled summer afternoons – hello, impromptu lemonade stand!
- Technology: Summer can also allow us to evaluate how much time children spend on devices during the day. And, perhaps more importantly, to look at the types of games they play and shows they watch on their devices. If something needs to be changed, you have the time to adjust and set new rules.
- Goals: Without the pressure of the school year rush, try setting a few goals to work on with your child. Does shoe-tying need some work? Practice tying each day after lunch instead of when you run out the door in the morning. Do math facts need extra practice? Use sidewalk chalk to draw a few facts while playing on the driveway in the evening. Less stress can open space for progress.
- Meals: Summer veggies offer opportunities to try cooking together and involve kids in learning about the food that they eat. Picky eaters? No problem. Let your child choose the recipe and participate in making it – they are more likely to try something that they had a hand in making.
- Bedtime: It is important to keep a consistent bedtime, even during the summer. And when summer activities keep you out later in the evening, following the same series of events each evening is still important. If it’s always: bath, brush teeth, story, and song – keep that same routine, even if it’s a slightly shortened version.
No matter how you plan your summer, take time to do whatever is fun for your family. Whether it’s experimenting with making homemade popsicles, taking a day trip to an amusement park, or your yearly trip to the beach – connection with your child/children is time well spent and lots of fun for all. After a summer of being together, you will all be refreshed and ready for the new school year to begin.
Katelyn Collins, MS, ECMH-E (II)