“I’m bored.” The dreaded and inevitable words most parents hear at some point during the summer break.
For many working families, summer time isn’t always full of pool parties, trips to the playground or amusement park, and endless playdates.
Children have a lot of free time on their hands and it can be overwhelming to maintain their day-to-day activities. So how can parents keep their children structured, organized and active in the summer months?
Schedule fun. Together with your children, come up with your summer “bucket list” or list of activities the family wants and can afford to do this summer—trip to the zoo, beach vacation, backyard camping adventure, etc. Next, map out the activities on a calendar so the children know exactly when their adventures will take place. This will give them something to look forward to.
Resist the urge to overschedule. During the school year, parents know exactly when and where their kids will be each day. When it comes to the summer, parents often feel a need to schedule every minute of the day from drama camp to soccer practice to carpools to the park. While having a consistent routine is important, it’s also imperative to allow time for unstructured downtime.
Set aside time each day. The biggest mistake parents can make is getting caught up in all of those posts and pictures of other parents’ summer activities on social media. Your child doesn’t need a Martha Stewart or Pinterest worthy activity, all they need is a loving connection with you. So, whether it’s running through the sprinkler together, roasting marshmallows in the backyard or even just counting the stars on a blanket before bedtime, do at least one thing a day to connect and have fun.
Encourage your child to try something new this summer. There’s no time like the summer to encourage your child to try a new activity. Maybe he wants to take swimming lessons, or a painting class, take-up a new sport or attend a summer camp. New activities encourage brain development and build your child’s focus and creativity. But remember, don’t go overboard in the scheduling of activities!
Limit technology. When it’s hot outside and kids are bored, screen time has a way to swallowing up all of their time. Parents can easily fall into the trap of technology becoming the babysitter. Replace that screen time with daily reading and regular trips to the library. Books open the imagination and creativity in every child.
Create structure and set boundaries. Summer routines are sure to be different than school routines, but it’s important to remember the necessity of routines. Children need to be freed of the tight structure of the school year, but they also need the security of knowing that some things will remain the same. Keep the same bedtime, maintain the same chore schedule, etc. You can easily discourage behavioral problems by ensuring a structured environment.
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