Easing Into a New Summer Routine
There you are, staring at the calendar at the next 3 months wondering how you will survive! 2 months ago you were shuffling from soccer practice to pick up the groceries, and then home to cook dinner while helping your child master the math homework that you’re quite certain was something you never really EVER learned.
Then, in that exhausting moment, you longingly looked forward to this summer break, but here it finally is and you are feeling the pressure. You’re asking yourself the same question every parent of school aged children asks themselves: “How will I keep these children entertained for the entire summer without pulling my hair out?” Especially given the recent overly emotional and defiant behavior that seems to have crept in out of nowhere.
Not to worry! With a few of these tips, you can tackle this transition and create a harmonious & memorable summer!
Don’t over schedule.
In order to keep the peace this summer and actually have some reprieve from the chaos, you must resist the urge to enroll your child(ren) in every activity you possibly can. Over scheduling can create stress for your child(ren), and yourself as well. As intimidating as it may be to have your child home a lot extra over the summer, it can be a really positive opportunity to strengthen your bond with them. And, let’s face it… when kids get bored they are forced to be creative.
Maintain a limit for screen time.
For the parents I work with, I usually recommend an hour or less per day, and no more than 30 minutes at a time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 1 hour or less of quality programming per day for children ages 3-5 yrs, which is a full hour less than it. The recommendation for children over age 5 is no more than 2 hours per day of screen time. As the research is growing around how screen time effects a child’s brain development and emotional health, we are seeing that number decrease more and more.
Create some daily solitude for your child(ren) and yourself.
Quiet times can be the perfect break for everyone. My advice? Everyone goes to their own room for about 45 minutes each day at a designated time. If you’re a stay at home parent, or even a nanny, this can be a wonderful way to give yourself some space to re-group.
Bonus tip: create some small bins called “Discovery Boxes”. Fill them with quiet activities like puzzles, blocks, books, or finger puppets that your child(ren) can focus on while they are having their quiet time.
Create a Family Bucket list!
Get the whole family together for a brainstorming session and create a list of fun activities everyone can enjoy together. In order to keep it simple and achievable, aim for 3-4 ideas per month. Be sure to incorporate some things that cost little to no money like having a family picnic, baking muffins, or family game night.
Keep a daily routine.
Routine is crucial for kids, especially when transitioning from the school year to the summer. It doesn’t have to be super rigid, just a frame work. Routines help children to know what to expect, as well as what is expected of them. In other words, routine creates boundaries. Kid’s need boundaries in order to feel secure. With transition and change comes the perfect opportunity for children to test all of their boundaries. This is why parents tend to see an increase in difficult behavior this time of year. Having a light routine can really help to prevent a lot of power struggles! Check out the example below for some guidance:
7:00 a.m. Wake and make bed
7:30 a.m. BREAKFAST
8:00 a.m. Get ready for the day!
9:00 a.m. Outdoor/Free play
10:00 a.m. SNACK
10:30 a.m. Art/Learning activity
11:30 a.m. LUNCH
12:00 p.m. Quiet Time
1:00 p.m. Read some books together
1:30 p.m. Art/Learning Activity
2:00 p.m. SNACK
3:00 p.m. Household Contributions (Chores)
4:00 p.m. Outdoor/Free play
5:30 p.m. DINNER
6:15 p.m. Everyone helps clean up!
6:45 p.m. Bath and Pajamas
7:15 p.m. Bedtime routine begins
Incorporate "Heavy Work" or Maximum Effort Activities. These are activities that involve the whole body and take the child's entire effort to master. They are effective for building a child's sense of autonomy/control, and for helping children to feel more centered in their environment. I have a free guide I created and you can download that HERE!