A friend and I were talking a few days ago. Both in disbelief that the kids only have a week of school left and then it will be summer break. Where has the past school year gone?
Moms seems to have a love/hate relationship with summer. They are excited to have their children home more, excited to not have so many responsibilities (places to be), but feeling anxious about all the time that will need to be filled. “Mom I’m Booooooorrrrrred” seems to instill fear in mother’s around the world.
There are lost of resources and ideas for activities and things to do during the summer months, but here are some general thoughts to help ease the anxiety that might be threatening your summer fun.
First, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the grand ideas floating around the internet about how to spend your summer. Don’t let yourself feel bad if you don’t have a list of 1000 things to do. One of the most beautiful things, and my favorite part about summer, is that it allows families to have down time. Isn’t that what summer break is for? Allow your family to have down time also. Every minute of every day does not need to be scheduled or planned.
Plan unscheduled time for your children this summer.
Don’t abandon routine. A completely unstructured summer will lead to stress, boredom, and a very crazy messy house. Just because school is not in session, doesn’t mean routine and responsibilities should go out the window. Give your children responsibilities that are appropriate for their ages and abilities and be sure those things are taken care of each day. We have found that the best time for chores and household responsibilities are first thing in the morning. Help your children understand that when things are in order at home, it leaves more time for your family to do all the fun things summer has to offer.
Consider service. One of the best things we can do for our children, is teach them the importance of serving and helping others. While you are planning your summer activities, be willing to focus more on service oriented activities. Seeing the needs of others and finding ways to help those around us is a lifelong skill we want our children to develop. Summer is the perfect time to start working on it.
Plan ahead. Take a few minutes to do some research about all the fun things your city has to offer over the next few months. Most places you will want to visit, do promotions, two for one days, kids free days etc… These are good things to know in advance and great to put on the calendar. That way, you have planned ahead and saved money too. There is nothing wrong with calendaring your next few months. Plan in your vacations, and experiences so the whole family can see not only what is coming up, but what available time your family has to do other things too.
Ask for input. Ask your children what they want to do this summer. They have been dreaming about it too :). They are certain to have opinions, and including them will help them feel in control and assume ownership over their actions throughout the next few months. They will also be much more likely to take care of their chores and responsibilities when they know they are getting to participate in things they are excited about, because they helped choose them.
Regulate Screen Time Early. Don’t let technology get the best of your family. Set your screen time guidelines BEFORE the summer gets under way. Otherwise you will find yourself fighting the TV fight every day. Can your children watch an hour a day? Only a certain show each day? 30 minutes a day on the computer? Lay down the technology laws early and you will have a much smoother summer.
Don’t forget the books. One of the best activities for your children to be involved in over the next few months, is continued reading. It will help them retain what they learned in school, and keep their minds and imaginations sharp. Whether they can read themselves, or you read to them, it is worth spending the extra time to help them read each day. Reading seems to fit really well into summer mornings. It’s a great thing to get it done right around the same time children are taking care of their chores and responsibilities. I also like to have the kids take an afternoon break to slow down and read.
Needs and Values. Want to know what to plan this summer? Sit down and write out a list of the needs your family has, and the values that you want them to learn or work on. Once you have identified those things, start plugging in activities that help you accomplish those goals. You will find this simple exercise brings meaning to your summer plans and gives you a great focus in your planning.
Love them. Instead of thinking about how stressful it might be to entertain our children over the next few months, think about how wonderful it is going to be to see their smiling faces each day. Take the time to get to know them, talk to them more, laugh with them more, and share more experiences with them.
Here’s to making many summer memories!
Does summer vacation make you anxious?
What is your favorite thing to do with your children in the summer?