1. Make a “Things to Do” list together. Sit down with your kids and brainstorm all the things they’d like to do this summer. This helps prevent “cramming” at the end of August, and you’ll have fun checking things off the list together. (Also serves as a cure for “I’m bored”. More on this later…) The list can include bigger things like “go camping”, and then plenty of simpler things like, “make a lemonade stand, build a sandcastle, do sidewalk chalk, sleep in late, go out for ice cream, swim in a lake, Nerf battle, sleep in a backyard tent, make s’mores, catch a frog”. Let your kids know that this is an “idea” or “wish” list, and not a list of “have to’s” or demands.
2. Feel the rhythm. Before summer vacation begins, have a chat with your kids about what to expect. Show them ahead of time the family calendar and give a brief overview of their childcare, their swim lessons, their soccer games, nap schedules, etc. When are they expected to wake up and go to bed? Different styles (structured/loose) work for different families, but all kids appreciate knowing what is expected of them. If you have teens, they’ll want to know the mornings they can sleep in, and when they have to get up and get going. Also talk about their responsibilities as a family member- what chores are they expected to keep up with daily? Weekly? How much screen time are they allowed each day? What counts as screen time?
3. Leave some white space on your calendar. Save some room for improvisation, and times when the mood strikes for mini-road trip, a special play date, or an afternoon at the movies (or a DVD so Mom can take a power nap). White space is also nice for some quiet reading or playtime in their bedrooms. Everyone needs some time to unwind and be by themselves sometimes, and a hyper-social summer schedule can cause stress for more sensitive or introverted kids. Pretend you are all from Barcelona and call it a SIESTA! Si!
4. Boredom never killed anyone. I love it when my kids tell me they are bored. (okay, not really, but I pretend I do...) I respond, “Oh, good! Did you know we think of our BEST ideas when we’re bored? Go lie down and stare and the ceiling for a while and you are gonna think of something really cool to do!” This is NOT easy, but resist screens when kids say the “B” word. Kids are amazingly adept at invention and creativity if left alone to work it out. At Montessori preschools, the teachers know that when the kids are fussy and unfocused, they wait it out patiently until, EVERY TIME, the kids find something to work on, and a creative hush falls over the room.
5. “Put your own oxygen mask on first.” Well, we’ve saved the hardest one for last. Parents, whether you are working inside or outside the home, summer can be tough for us. We feel pressure to entertain, to educate, to nourish, to enrich, to socialize, to exercise, to EVERYTHING our kids. Find a way (you know you can), to take care of yourself. What feeds you? Time alone? Time with a friend or spouse? A walk? A cup of coffee all alone? A killer kickboxing class? If you do, you’ll find yourself with the energy and resources to make it allllll the way to Labor Day with only a few minor Mommy Meltdowns. ;) Good luck out there!
hi! i'm leslie.
i'm a wife, mother of two boys, third-generation realtor, clinical psychologist. ('cause, you know, that helps sometimes...)
(oh, and here's my website)