School has ended, and for some parents, this is an exciting time – no more morning alarms and carpools! These parents are eager to have more time with their children and create a summer that is filled with adventures! And for others, the loss of the school schedule creates a sense of anxiety – how am I going to entertain my kids for an entire summer?!
Summer time is an important time to strike a balance in your family. While your schedule is no longer dictated by a school calendar, it is still important to maintain a sense of routine throughout the summer months.
For children, routines are incredibly important! Knowing what to expect allows children to feel a sense of security, and this in turn provides them with freedom to think and feel and be creative – children thrive on routine!
For the fun-loving parents, having a routine does not mean you need to become a drill sergeant. Having a routine can simply help to establish a natural rhythm into your day. And for those parents that may be overwhelmed by what seems like an endless amount of time in a day, a routine can help to structure that time…but keep it simple! You don’t need to feel like your new job title is Director of Entertainment.
Here are a couple of ways that routines are helpful and some ideas for creating a sense of routine within your home during the summer months:
1. Routines can help to eliminate the fear of the unknown and instill the concept of “looking forward.”
Kids like to know what’s next. Remember, knowing what to expect provides a child with a sense of security.
- Create a visual schedule and for younger children – include pictures!
- Sit down with your family at the start of summer and create a “Summer Bucket List.” This can help build excitement and allows your kids to provide input as to how they would like to spend their time.
- Utilize themes to help spark your creativity, but also establish a sense of consistency throughout each week:
- Messy Monday – do an art project with finger paints or practice writing in shaving cream, or make a mud pie!
- Wet Wednesday – visit different pools or splash pads or have a water balloon fight in your backyard!
- Fun Friday – explore a new playground each week or do something different like visit the zoo or the aquarium!
- You get the idea!
2. Routines can help build connection moments.
When things are predictable, kids readily know where to find mom and dad.
- Reading schedules are often something that can carry over into the summer. When reading time is part of the summer routine, it can be a great way for a child to have some downtime – and an excellent chance to snuggle with mom or dad on the couch.
- Enjoy family dinners…but with a twist! Allow your kids to be involved in the process. Depending on their age, they might be able to plan and prepare the meal, whereas younger children can play the role of sous chef!
- Maintain a consistent bedtime. Even though there isn’t school the next day, kids still need sleep! And helping your child to wind down after the events of the day can be a great time to check in with them, acknowledge their accomplishments and successes or quietly and calmly talk about how a situation might be handled better tomorrow.
Having a sense of routine can help with cooperation, maintain consistency in expectations, and eliminate power struggles. With a little planning and effort on your part, you can help your child to have a fun and successful summer – that will hopefully be enjoyable for you too!
Rebekah Jones, LPC