May is in full swing. It is a time of beautiful spring flowers, warmer weather, and outside activities. It feels great to pack away those winter clothes. You may be attending graduations (maybe you have a child graduating, but that is an entirely different subject). Younger children may be going on school field trips, participating in year-end concerts and bringing home paperwork for summer sports and camps. Then, before you know it, the kids are home for the summer!
For single parents and families where both parents work outside the home, it can be a challenge to find summer childcare. Perhaps you are trying to decide if they are old enough to stay home alone. Maybe you worry about what they will be doing when you’re not around. For the stay-at-home parent, you may have to re-arrange your entire schedule. It can be stressful to find activities to keep them busy, while still allowing you time to take care of everything else!
While we want our kids to keep active and busy (no parent enjoys hearing “I’m bored” all summer long), we need to remember that our kids also need to have down time. Summer is a great time to decompress for kids who are always on the go during the school year. Quiet time is good for our kids. When giving them time to recharge, you also give them the ability to activate their imagination and creativity. Spending time outside enjoying nature actually provides many mental and physical health benefits.
Depending on the age of your kids, you might consider looking into community activities that are available. Local libraries often host special programs during the summer. There are many youth camp options available for most ages. Contact other parents and look at taking turns hosting play dates. Look at the movie theater options. Kid’s Bowl for Free is a great program. Do you have a local swimming pool that offers lessons? Are you and your child willing to commit the time required to attend practice and play a sport?
Summer is a great time for kids to learn how to be independent, to work around the house, not just picking up after themselves, but doing dishes, laundry, mowing the lawn or other age appropriate chores. If you have older children and have a business at home, show them how to do simple duties. Let them really help you out and pay them for their time. If you have an older teen, help them look into a part time job.
Plan ahead for some of their time, just don’t try to plan every minute. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the hype that kids need to participate in every sport, every sports camp, music camp, church camp, go to competitions, and have every minute filled. They will survive being bored occasionally and maybe even learn to thrive in that quiet time.
Don’t forget to plan your own “me time” in the schedule too! Summer can be stressful if you’re not prepared. When you’re stressed, the children will feel it too. If you are having difficulty coping or your child is struggling with transitioning to a new routine, make an appointment with a professional that can give you tools to manage the stress.