One of the best parts of school, at least in the eyes of many children, is the end of the school year when they have a full summer of freedom to look forward to. However, as a parent, having a full summer where you have to plan and be responsible for keeping your child entertained and safe 24/7 can create a great deal of anxiety. Here are a few tips that will help you plan your children's summertime without having to experience a high degree of stress and anxiety over it.
#1 Involve Your Kids
Don't shoulder all the stress of planning summertime activities on your own shoulders; ask your kids what they want to do this summer.
Sit down with your kids, and over the course of a few evenings spread out over the month before summer vacation begins, create a summer "bucket list" with your kids. This bucket list can include things that your kids want to do as well as places that they want to go. The bucket list doesn't have to be filled with unachievable or huge items, like a trip to Disneyland or a vacation to Europe; it can be filled with simple summer activities that will build memories and family bonds.
Here are a few ideas to get you and your family started:
- Fly a kite
- Go on a hike
- Go to a baseball game
- Make a play-fort outside
- Fondue night
- Make play-dough
- Star watching
- Visit the zoo
- Make jam
- Use sidewalk chalk
As you can see, the ideas don't have to be costly; they can be as simple as a picnic. The goal of making a summer bucket list is to come up with ideas of activities that would be meaningful for your whole family.
You don't even have to schedule or map out these activities. Every day or every week, you can decide together what bucket lists items you all want to do. By working together with your kids, you will not have a shortage of ideas on what to do this summer.
#2 Don't Skip Out On Responsibilities
Most kids thrive on a schedule or when they have a sense of purpose. Do not let your kids drop all of their responsibilities just because it is summer time. Most kids are responsible for a variety of tasks while at school, ranging from picking up after themselves to taking care of the class fish or setting out supplies for activities. Make sure that your kids have daily responsibilities around your house as well during the summer.
Create a daily age-appropriate chore list for each of your children; this will give them a sense of responsibility and if nothing else, when your kids tell you they have nothing to do, you can always refer them to the choir list for something to do.
#3 Add In Learning Time
Add in a little learning time into your kids day. This can be as simple as asking your kids to sit quietly and read for a half hour a day, or as involved as doing science projects together. Settle on a task that is easy to do and can be lead by your child. This will help keep your child's academic brain engaged and allow you to relax for a bit during the day.
#4 Schedule In A Few Summer Camps
After the novelty of having free time starts to wear off, your kids may start to get a little stir-crazy, and start pestering you about what they are going to do. It can help to have something to look forward to, which is where summer camp comes in.
Sign your children up for a couple of different summer camps. Even if you are able to stay home with your children during the summer time, sending your kids to a couple of summer camps can really help break up the time and provide your children with some unique opportunities and experiences this summer.
You don't have to send your child away to an overnight camp for them to participate in summer camp; look for camps that run during the day in your area. Many local organizations including the YMCA, the community art center in your area, and local sports clubs may provide local summer camp opportunities.
Use the strategies above to help plan out your children's summer. Involve your kids in the process; they may be able to take a lot of the planning and idea stress away from you. Give your kids daily responsibilities so you don't have to do all the summertime clean-up, and give yourself a break for at least a couple of weeks by signing your kids up for summer camp. Summer does not have to be a stressful or anxiety inducing time for you if you implement the suggestions above. If you need additional help managing your summer anxiety, talk with your counselor for more ideas. Contact a business, such as The Center for Family Counseling, Inc. for more information.