Parenting Tips to Preserve Summer Sanity
Summer is a time to take a pause from the overcrowded academic schedule and reset our priorities. The relaxed pace is welcomed by most. Even parents who work, and have to drop off their children at daycare, enjoy the ease of the warm evenings without having to worry about homework. Summer brings its challenges, however. I recently saw a meme of a parent panhandling for summer with a sign that read, “I have a job!! It’s just summer, and my kids are at home, and they won’t stop eating!” Here are a few ideas that may help you find a nice balance that can help you preserve sanity during the summer months:
Don’t fall into the busy trap
Your children don’t have to be entertained by you every second of the day. They are quite capable of entertaining themselves. Children can only hone their skills when they are extra bored and have nothing better to do. My boys love music. They often leave all the challenging pieces they have wanted to learn for summer when they have time to dedicate to it. They walk away from it when they are frustrated and go back to it when they feel they’ve cooled down enough. If you are filling up their time too much, you will never see them grow as they struggle through the things that matter to them.
Let kids sleep in
Most children don’t get an adequate amount of sleep during the school year, and summer provides them a chance to catch up on the most needed rest. Their growing bodies crave it. Sleep promotes growth, and it also affects weight. Children crave higher-fat or carbs food when they are tired. Tired children also tend to be more sedentary. Sleep has many benefits for children, so while on vacation don’t get things started at 7:00 am like a regular school day. Allow for a little extra sleep, and enjoy your coffee in peace.
Set up a schedule
Set up a schedule so children are fruitfully occupied but not hurried. Write it down, make a chart, put it somewhere everyone can see it. Stick to it while allowing flexibility - it is summer time after all.
Set aside a time for reading
Reading for school assignments is not the same as reading for fun. Children, as well as adults, do what they find pleasurable. The capacity of a child to immerse in a story, visualize details in the plot, and relate to the characters in the story can create long hours of pleasure; not to mention how smart they are becoming. Studies have shown that good readers unknowingly even strengthen their mathematical skills. Go figure!
Teach them how to do new chores
Every summer, you want to take the time to add a new chore to their repertoire. Show them how to do something new to help with the household every year. Remind them that as they grow older, they need to learn how to become more independent. The goal is that one day they will be capable of managing their households alone, like a boss!
Take them outside and insist they exercise
It is recommended that children and teens get a minimum of 60 minutes of vigorous exercise a day. Summer is the easiest time to accomplish this goal because every child loves scootering, swimming, riding bikes and playing sports indoors and outdoors. In addition to the usual physical benefits of exercise, active kids are less likely to experience bouts of depression and anxiety. Moving around improves mental health. That is a fact!
Encourage them to be creative
Creativity is more of a skill than an inborn talent. Summer is a great time to learn to draw, play music, dance, create science experiments, write, learn to recite poetry, serve the people around them, etc.
Savor your time with your children during the summer months, cuddle, read together, play, enjoy and for God’s sake, stop worrying!