One of the great challenges for parents and families in summer is the little changes in work schedules or life responsibilities. For our children, they often have a marked decrease in activity and responsibility levels. Keeping your children busy can become a focus of the summer; however, finding a balance between busy and rest/rejuvenation is key. Of course, if your children attend a summer program or are going to spend time with grandparents regularly, keeping a routine will prove helpful. This is also a perfect time to address any rule changes in screen time, interactions with siblings, or chores over the summer months.
Setting Expectations to Help School-age Kids
Luckily, we often use this time to go on family vacations and now with COVID restrictions lessening in many places, we can make plans and go. This can translate to many stressors in preparation as each family member with their different temperaments and personalities needs to get themselves ready to go. This is an added stressor for little ones who can only help so much and may need reassurance if they feel left out. Establishing and/or reminding all family members of rules while on vacation can be part of the preparation. Establishing expectations for when returning home will alleviate some stressors also.
When coming up with things to do as a family this summer, try to get input from the kids, they will be more invested in whatever is going on. Figuring out if their friends can somehow be involved so their social interactions can continue in a healthy way will help out everyone involved. Making sure family rules addressing messes and clean-up are laid out ahead of time will be useful.
Activities for Families with School-age Kids
Summertime with less stressors for the children can open up time for new connections with them. Being intentional about planning can create opportunities to begin new traditions for the family or make room for creativity in enlivening old traditions.
Ideas for family fun can include:
- Use up craft supplies day
- Movie nights
- Introduce your children to a favorite old movie and on another night have them share a favorite with you-each family member getting a change to choose
- Find a way to volunteer together
- Bake or cook together
- Pick an evening a week to sit down to dinner together
- hard here due to the heat, so maybe plan a picnic up north in the pines
- Play games
- board, video, on gaming device, outside soccer in the sprinkler with every family member prepared to learn from the others
- Take a walk
- Watch a sunset
- Read together or be read to with audio books
- Create a family tree or if you have one already tell stories about family members
- Look together for other resources online like at Disney or Hasbro
- Plan and execute a party
- Celebrate each individual family member with an outing or in home activity of their choice.
Looking ahead as summer comes to an end, many children will need extra help in preparing for the new school year as in many instances, they will be back to something like what was normal for the first time since 2019. Checking in with the children as the new school year approaches will likely prove necessary this year more than ever. This can include giving them room to express any areas of anxiety they might need reassurance in. Also helping your children brainstorm ways they might employ coping strategies and back up plans if they become overwhelmed as the school year approaches.
Enjoy your summer. Be intentional. Enjoy your children.