Happy end of the school year and happy summer! , As parents and students alike, we have waited so long for this time. All in all, I know most parents really enjoy these special days of vacation with their children. Yet speaking from the parent domain, I have come to realize many parents I know, myself included, angst a little bit to about these lazy, hazy days of summer before us. For some of us with smaller children at home, alongside our school age children, it means a vast change in dynamics in the household.
Stay at home mama or papa’s time (and patience) are vied for between multiple parties. Diverse needs to be met and fulfilled, as naps are squeezed in between swim lessons and rides to friends’ houses. For work-at home parents in these situations, they must figure out how to best see to their children’s needs, while getting her their work done in the home setting. For mamas and papa who work full-time, there are also many different needs to fulfill for children in terms of day care; getting children to summer activities; having quality time with their children; and assuaging the parental guilt that many working parents feel ,when it comes to balancing work demands versus family demands.
I believe that some of these intense feelings, for parents in all situations, stems from the struggle between wanting to wallow in unstructured, summer time versus the hated child exclamation, “ I am bored,” with a capital “B.” What is a parent to do? I offer this which is a summation of my own personal experiences and suggestions I found on-line.
1) Accept the fact there is going to be a time in which everyone readjusts and regroups to the new dynamic and routine of summer. For many years, I felt like the worst mother on the planet for the palpable sense of uneasiness at the start of holiday breaks and summer vacations. Now I see it for what it is, a dynamic system, the family system, adjusting to meet the needs of its many members. Every year we go through this and every year we readjust. Sticking to a routine, but having some flexibility seems to ease the feeling and help it pass.
2) Gage what your family would like to do this summer. One site on line talked about coming up with summer “bucket lists” of sorts, another called them wish lists. While maybe you can’t trudge off to Disney or Europe, you probably can fulfill your 10 year-old’ s desire to campout in the backyard, or your eight year-old’s desire to build a fairy house. This will help stave off those end of summer feelings of not doing what you wanted to during the summer or having someone feel like their need were overlooked or unmet.
3) Take advantage of all the free or low cost events in your community. Many communities offer free concerts; hold summer festivals; or feature great parks, creeks, lakes, hiking spots, historical buildings, etc. that can be enjoyed. There is so much to see close to home!
4) Take part in your local library’s summer reading programs. As we know, it is so important to keep our children reading during the summer months. Many libraries offer special incentives and prizes, along with great activities to encourage reading among young people. A good book is such a place of respite for both child and parent, alike.
5) Insist your child unplugs or limits their electronics during the summer. Our children need to get outside. If you do not have firm limits already, now is the time to establish them. With set boundaries, everyday won’t be an argument around usage.
6) Get cooking. Have your children pick out some new recipes to try. What a wonderful way for busy families, in busy households to connect. What a great way to instill healthy eating and learn about new foods!
7) Let your kids get creative. Break out the boxes, glitter, and paint. Your children will have a ball! Do it outside and don’t fret about the mess! Think of it as your own open air school of painting/ art center.
8) Pick and choose what works best for you and your family. Summer has so much to offer. But use yes as a seasoning, so summer doesn’t get too hectic or overwhelming for everyone.
9) Take a break and get away if affordable or possible. Camping is good, affordable fun! So are the cousins’ houses or grandma and grandpa’s.
10) Let your child try a new hobby or sport. With the additional time that exists in summer, compared to the often harried school year, take advantage of community sports programs or recreational program that are offered. These short term programs can help a child discover new interests, passions, and talents.
11) Savor the days. Readjust, slow down, and enjoy the summer days before you and the children that go with them. Before you know it, it will be time to get the children off to school again. Make memories; laugh with them; play with them; read to them; and try to also “just be,” some of the time.