CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – Kids everywhere are saying goodbye to school and hello to summer. But while the kids may be super excited about the last day of school, many parents experience anxiety about keeping their children occupied during the summer months. Jeff Londraville, Author of ‘The Filter’ offered his tips to help make the transition easier.
Summer plans are based on five basic principles:
Loose consistent structure
Consistent structure is a basic principle of all childrearing. Kids (and adults) thrive on knowing what to expect. The more chaotic and stressful their lives, the more important structure is. In the summertime, when you have long, long hours to fill, patterns can create a happy expectation that can disperse that vague anxiety that comes with the idea of – it’s summer, I’m supposed to be having FUN.
Effective structure is both loose and flexible. For example, a basic agenda for summer weekdays might be breakfast, play until 9:30, chores, something outside, lunch, quiet activity, family activity, dinner, hang out, bed.
This provides a basic structure, but enough flexibility. In addition, kids argue MUCH less about things like chores, quiet time or, really, anything else, when it’s something they’re used to doing every day.
Chores aren’t fun, but they are important. Chores create a sense of contribution to the family (they ARE a contribution to the family). And, at least for me, they make me feel less like a serf and more like a member of a community where everyone works together. Kids who contribute to the family and are honestly thanked for it develop both a sense of their own accomplishment and a sense of gratitude for what others do for them.
Blow off lots of energy in the morning.
It’s hard to bike, or run around on hot summer afternoons. Do it in the morning. Running around early means you can lie around guilt-free the rest of the day, knowing they’ve gotten the two hours of recommended physical activity all kids are supposed to get to stay healthy. (Did you know that children need TWO HOURS of sunlight every day to help their eyes develop properly and prevent nearsightedness?)
Is being lazy ever productive?
Everyone feels tired and lazy on humid afternoons. Take advantage of that. Not a ‘nap’, but a quiet time. It gave me a much needed break. It helped them regain their energy to fly around later. Seem impossible? Remember, most daycare centers have a required one hour nap time with lights out. And after a few days practice – and perhaps a small pile of comic books, a few dolls or an iPod – they’ll do just fine.
One fun thing a day.
Sometimes we’d do something special – like go to a museum or take a walk at the bird sanctuary. Often we’d spend the afternoon setting up a tent in the back yard and then sleeping outside with a friend or sister. Fun things don’t have to be BIG things. They just have to be different and involve time together.
A trip to Dairy Queen.
A water fight with the hose
A walk to the park and hanging out under the sprinkler.