Summer has arrived and with it comes sunshine and relaxation. As a parent, it also comes with the new challenge of having your child (or children) home with you or someone else all…. day…. long.
We all love our children, but if you are like me, sometimes the few summer months can be surprisingly stressful. There are days that I think my children purposely take me right to the line of losing my sanity. Here are the top three things you can do to help alleviate the stress and help ensure that you enjoy those few precious months.
1) Perspective Check
Before doing anything, check your perspective. This should be the best time of the year. You have a few months to spend with your child at home which is something few parents are able to do in this economy. In addition, we all know they grow up too fast. These summer months will be a blur of lost time or wonderful memories, the choice is yours. Work hard to make it the latter and remind yourself every morning that you never get this time back.
How many times have you heard your child say “I’m bored, I’m bored.” Truthfully, your child probably doesn’t say that phrase at school as much as they do during the summer, even though they have more options for entertainment. One reason is they need some routine and they need to keep their brain engaged. As a teacher, students always told me how fast my class went because we had routines and it was jammed full of activity.
Try doing that at home this summer. Set up routines, structure, and responsibilities. There will be less boredom as well as less time for mischief simply because of the busyness. For example, at my house we have a very simple routine which I’ve outlined below. Notice that I try to do something before lunch every day just to break up the day. All my children (even my preschooler) have chores to do each day and they all read (or are read to) every day. The implementation of this has made a huge difference in our house (especially with my sanity) because the children know what to expect and what is expected.
- Errands or fun activity for the day (swimming, shopping, park visit, etc.)
- Non-negotiable Reading time (30 min.)
- Free time/play (no electronics)
- Lunch (all together again)
- Free time (w/television and electronics)
- Resume regular nighttime routine
3) Electronics Control
I know it’s easy, but television and electronics are not the answer to keeping your child from driving you crazy. They do nothing to help your child retain anything for the next school year. Sometimes I tell my son “Great, we are now dumber for having watched that". So regulate time on the television and especially time on electronics (this includes ipads, ipods, XBOX, computer usage, etc.). If it wasn’t regulated in my house, my son would probably play Minecraft until his eyes bled or he starved to death… whichever came first.
If you will make a commitment to implement and try these ideas you will see a big difference on how you feel every day. Your energy will be up as well as your attitude. Unfortunately, for many children summer can be a time for their brain to go on vacation with their bodies. This can make it that much more difficult for them to get into the rhythm when school starts back up. Furthermore, a loss of learning could occur. The idea is to keep your children active both mentally and physically as much as possible. Not only is it better for them overall, it will also make the summer less stressful and more enjoyable for you.