The temperature is 70 degrees. The sun shines bright on this Saturday in June. The day is so gorgeous, you just have to be outdoors to enjoy it. Maybe a run by the lake, maybe do a little yard work, maybe walk to the neighborhood coffee shop and browse the thrift shop next door….
But wait. Oh yeah, there are those two kiddos that happen to be yours that just got out of school. And they have soccer games and a birthday party and have been begging to go to Dave and Busters, and seem to whine anytime they get a little hot, or the sun is too bright, or the breeze is too strong, or their sandals get sand in them, or their sibling starts to bug them. Yep, it’s summer alright.
The introduction to this article may sound a bit cynical to those parents who have one child or who have children who never whine, but for the rest of us, there is at least an element of truth in the picture that is painted there. So here are the top 10 ideas for how to survive this summer without becoming a referee or pulling your hair out.
1. Create a calendar: Kids can see what is coming up in a few days, a week from now, in a month, and how long summer really is. You can determine if counting down the days of summer helps or if it just makes everyone more anxious about the looming spectre of the return of school. Maybe create special days like “backwards day” (eat dinner for breakfast and vice versa, wear clothes backwards, etc.)
2. Make an agenda every day on a white board where the kids can see for themselves everything that is happening. For example: 9 a.m.-- get ready for the day; 9:30 a.m.-- trip to the library Noon-- lunch.
3. One hour of “free” time: Give your child time with nothing to do, so that he/she can create his/her own activities. This space gives the child time to be creative and even learn how to manage time if he/she has only an hour. If your child needs inspiration, you may help them create a list of what they have wanted to do during the school year, but didn’t have time for.
4. Alone time: Create space for your child to spend time alone. Some parents call it “quiet time.” This time should be for reading and/or listening to music. If the child hasn’t slept well the night before, it may be a time to take a quick nap as well.
5. Limit screen time to one hour or less a day. This idea may mean keeping phones and devices in a common space where everyone can be kept accountable. Consider limiting your own time on your phone or computer.
6. Create separate playdates for siblings so that they get some independence from each other, which may not be as available during the school year.
7. Keep a regular bedtime-- even if it’s a little later than in the school year. Kids don’t enjoy even the best things when they are tired. If you allow them to stay up until they say they are tired or want to go to bed, they will be cranky the next day, even if the day is filled with unicorns and whip cream.
8. Get outside! Even kids who complain about being too hot need to be outdoors every day. It has been shown to boost a person’s mood to be in nature for 15 minutes every day which proves that even just a walk around the block might be a cure for some grumpies.
9. Behavior system: If you have behaviors that you want to see more of, reward them. Keeping track with stickers is one way to keep track, but just verbally affirming your child when you see something you like goes a long way. “I noticed how kind you were to your brother a few minutes ago. I like that.” Here’s an example of how to keep track:
10. Swap babysitting-- If you have friends whose kids get along with your kids, no matter the age gap, arrange to watch their kids while you go out and have them watch yours while you go out.
So leisurely browsing at a thrift store with a latte on a Saturday morning may be a thing of the past for now. But finding your groove may be easier with some of these ideas. Happy Summer!