The weather is warming up quickly. Summer camp registration is well underway. Before you know it, the pool will be open and it will be time for the beach, picnics and barbeques. It won’t be long before your kids come home from school shouting, “School’s out for summer!!”
Do those words bring you a feeling of excitement and happy anticipation as thoughts of summer stretch out before you? Or do they bring you a feeling of dread?
For many of us, knowing that we’ll have to help our young children and teens occupy the long days of summer can be daunting. It can be a source of worry, stress and tension. For the next two months, you will be expected to play the role of events coordinator to your children – who seem to feel entitled to fabulous vacations, extravagant daytrips, specialty camps, and movies – all arranged for and paid for by you! Maybe you have a teen who needs to get a summer job and is dragging his/her feet. Perhaps you dread the expected and all-too-common refrains of, “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do. I don’t want to go outside.” Then again, maybe it’s the inevitable bickering between siblings who are together all day that makes you cringe.
In addition to these unpleasant prospects, you’d like it if your children’s brains didn’t turn to mush over the 10 weeks of summer vacation. How do you get them to read or practice some type of academics? On top of that, you still have your own responsibilities. How are you going to get your own work done?! Is it possible for you to enjoy the summer with the kids home from school?
You CAN enjoy the summer with your kids. It does take a healthy dose of planning and patience. Try some of these ideas:
- Invite your kids to try a hobby or sport that you enjoy, like golf or cycling. Pick something that you can do together. That way you’ll be having fun alongside your kids.
- Make time for yourself to get things done AND to relax and recharge. Schedule dinner or drinks with friends, or perhaps a weekend away, to ensure you have time for both work and play.
- Structure your days at home with the kids. Set a routine so that you spend mornings reading together on the couch, make time to go to the pool after lunch every day, or take a regular evening walk after dinner. The school year/day is highly structured and that works well for kids. Make sure you implement some structure into your summer too. That way the kids will know what to expect and will relax into the routine.
- Hire help. Take advantage of neighborhood teens who are looking for extra income and have more time over the summer. You can hire them at a moderate cost to provide temporary or long term childcare or household help.
- Involve your kids in planning larger trips. Research vacations, day trips or activities that are within your budget and then have each child choose one or more of their favorites and put it on the calendar. Knowing that some bigger fun is planned can help kids get through the days at home.
- Check community resources. Many communities provide fun options that can be entertaining and economical when money is a concern. Do you have a town pool? Does the recreation department offer summer camp? Perhaps your library has free programs for children. How about the local churches? You can enrich your child’s religious education by enrolling them in one or more vacation bible schools.
- Swap with other parents. Set up a regular schedule or agreement where each parent takes a turn watching all the kids so the other parent(s) can have time to themselves. Your kids will have built-in social time with playmates and you’ll have time to focus on your own tasks – or just relax!
To learn more about how to make summer fun for the whole family, schedule an appointment here at Couples Therapy Center.
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