“Can my friend stay over tonight?”
“There’s nothing good to eat in the fridge…”
“Why do I have to take the trash out?”
Guess what? Summer break is here!
Ah, yes, you remember those simple pleasures of your own childhood’s summer vacation days.
But there’s nothing relaxing about it now as a parent. Neither do your children seem to be content with those simple pleasures you once relished so much.
These days, summer break only throws you into a battle for time, resources, and peace of mind that often leaves you worn out, frustrated, and derailed. Your sheer mental and emotional survival seems to be at stake!
Before you throw in the towel completely, here are four tips to help you find your groove again and survive summer break.
Tip #1: Stick with a Routine
Home life is inevitably less structured than school, but that doesn’t mean you should let anarchy take over during the summer break. Of course, it can be tempting to give your children free rein, particularly on days you want to relax, such as the weekend. But that won’t serve you well in the long-run.
Sticking with a basic, consistent home routine as much as possible helps provide a predictable pattern that most children actually find comforting. Keep that routine in place when you’re traveling as well, and you’ll find that your kids remain much more cooperative.
Setting up a routine for the summer also includes talking with your children about chores and behavioral expectations. While summer is a time off from academics, it’s not a time off from everything. So, be clear what each family member’s role is in keeping interactions friendly and the household running smoothly. If necessary, put up a chart that outlines what each person’s responsibilities are.
Tip #2: Allow Your Children Time to Adjust
As you’re putting a home routine and behavioral system in place for the summer, remember to stay flexible. Some children may take longer to get used to a change in pace — even to a more relaxed pace — than others. Many kids, especially younger ones, thrive on a schedule that they can anticipate. When that changes, they need time to understand why and how.
It’s not a good idea to jump into too many planned activities too soon. Allow time for the whole family to just relax for a little while and get used to being together for longer periods of time. Then, you can jump into having fun together. But don’t plan out everything. That can actually get in the way of having fun. Provide plenty of opportunities for unstructured playtime and let your kids be spontaneous.
Tip #3: Brainstorm a List of Fun Activities Together
When it comes to planning out fun summer activities, sometimes, parents take on all the responsibility, thinking they need to be the activity director and they’re doing their children a favor. But it’s important that kids are involved in brainstorming ideas for summer ventures.
Work together to come up with a list of as many fun activities as possible before summer break. You may be constrained by finances, but there are many things you can do that cost little or nothing. And then, let your kids know which ones you’ll do and when.
Visiting family living close by or going to the playground or local pool can be central activities, around which you can structure more elaborate outings and adventures.
Many children love doing things outdoors. So, why not plan on having picnics, going camping, riding bikes, spending time on the beach, or planting a garden to let them burn some of their energy? Others may enjoy more brainy activities. Regular visits to the library, stocking up on books, or visiting kid-friendly science museums where they can explore with sight, sound, touch, and smell are often favorites.
Whatever it is, make sure they have a say in the plans and the activity is something they enjoy, not just something you feel is good for them. It’s not hard to combine both of those objectives.
Tip #4: Breathe, Take a Break, and Relax
Even with the best laid out plans, things don’t always go exactly as expected. Not every day of summer break will be filled with laughter and sunshine. Sometimes, you may not even be able to go outside, or something else may thwart your plans.
Instead of being hard on yourself for matters out of your control, breathe, take a break, and relax!
When you can roll with the punches and stay calm and collected despite unexpected situations, you teach your children to be adaptable as well. And when you can make the most out of limited options (not everyone can afford grand vacations!), you help them to be resourceful and self-sufficient.
Finding your groove during summer break isn’t always easy. When routines change, it doesn’t just affect your children, it affects you too. So, keep it simple, focus on having fun with your kids, and stay calm when things get off track.
Before you know it, summer break will be over and you’re back in the school-time routine. And if you took the aforementioned four survival tips to heart, you can look back on a fantastic summer!
If you’re interested in receiving more personalized guidance for your family or in overcoming problems, please contact us.