Maintaining Structure in the Summer
School is out! Children look forward to summer all year. Kids are super excited to be free of responsibility, escape homework, and break free of teacher demands for a few months. Parents too look forward to this time to slow down, have a change of pace, and make new family memories. Some children will go to sleepaway camp, day camp, vacation, while others will take a real break and relax at home.
Despite all the positive vibes, parents have the added burden of keeping their children busy in an attempt to avoid the typical tantrums and the inevitable whine: “Mom, I'm bored”. How can you keep up the summer fun all summer long? Creating and maintaining structure in your home.
Here are 4 tips to help you with maintaining structure during the summer.
Keep Up Your Routine -
Children and families thrive with routine and structure. Although we can’t exactly match the consistency school provides, it helps to keep children on a daily schedule. This includes meal times, bathing, bedtime routines, and bedtime. Nap time may be a necessity in the summer too!
Of course there is room for flexibility like sleeping in on weekends (like that ever happens!) or a late night, but overall, sticking to the schedule keeps your children well rested and aware of the expectations of the day which in turn makes them more cooperative. A hungry and tired child can be irritable, cranky, and irrational, which is not what you look forward to during summertime fun.
Make a Visual Schedule -
Prior to summer, sit down with your spouse or family as a whole and set expectations for the summer. Include your children in exploring their interests for the summer and what excites them. What are they most looking forward to? Is there anything special that will make their summer a blast? Facilitate communication surrounding this so all family members are bought in and looking forward to what’s to come.
Things to include could be outings to parks, splash pads, museums, water parks, farms, and other child friendly activities. Don’t forget to include things the adults like to do too! Movie night, an ice cream party, game night, the possibilities are endless. Including things like quiet time, reading time, or even some educational activities help with the overall balance and peace.
Once you have a general idea…make it visual! Children succeed with transitions and changes when they know what to expect and can visually see what is expected of them. There are tons of visual schedules to purchase, but a homemade one typically works best. Involve your children in the creative process and include them in making the schedule. The more involved they are the more excited they will be to participate.
Get Outdoors -
The summer heat hits hard, but getting outside daily is essential. Being outside, separating from screens, and feeling fresh air has a large impact on mood and wellbeing.
Physical activity is essential for children. Children have tons of energy to burn. Riding a bike or scooter, playing tag, or going for a nature walk are all ways to engage children outside. Getting outside also makes room for cool down and chill activities afterwards, like a popsicle or a family movie.
Back-Up Plan -
It is inevitable that at some point things will take a turn and you will hear the dreaded, “Mom, I’m bored” or find your children crying about a broken banana or a toy car they can’t find. Despite all the planning, that’s okay…we expect this!
But, it does help to have a plan. Talk in advance with your child about options of things they can do when they are bored or when they need to calm down. This could be presented as a “Calming Corner” or just a special area or basket. Things to include may be a new set of markers, coloring books, bubbles, a book, word search, or other random dollar store finds. Whatever comes up, you can handle it with a back-up plan in your pocket.
Remember to always include parents' breaks too! This doesn’t exclude working parents, a break between work and being with the kids is a necessity too. A quick walk outside, a morning coffee, a short meditation, or a chapter in a book can go a long way. Get a sitter, family member, or friend to help when you can. We need to be our best selves to be with our children all day, and we can’t do that without taking care of ourselves first. Make this a priority!
Have Fun -
The most important takeaway… Have fun! Summer is a time to rejuvenate, appreciate less responsibilities, and create family memories. The time spent together are memories your children and you will cherish forever.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can be present with your children, ensure an awesome summer for the family, and enjoy yourself too!
Counseling and Parent Coaching Can Help Your Family Thrive!
If you and your family are needing additional support with maintaining structure or any other parenting concerns, contact us for your complimentary consultation at 954-391-5305.
We offer counseling and parent coaching at our beautiful offices in Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, and Plantation, Florida. We also offer online counseling or parent coaching across the state of Florida via our secure telehealth platform.
For more information about Jessica Califf, LMFT and her approach to counseling with kids and families, click here.