Try these six summer strategies and see what happens!
1. Plan - and have back-up plans. Summer-planning establishes new routines. Plans depend on geographic location, finances and support networks. Types of summer activities can be found online and by word of mouth. Take your child’s interests and ages into consideration. Back-up planning helps increase consistency, a key growth factor for healthy development.
2. Create balance between freedom and structure. Both kids and parents enjoy the less pressured aspects of summer. Talk to children about preferences - theirs and yours. As a parent, you have the right to make decisions about the balance of freedom and structure. You can build in flexibility within structure. For example, you can plan hangout days with no specifics. It is okay to say “Yes” or “No” to certain freedom requests depending on your scheduling needs or children’s safety concerns.
3. Make a summer schedule and facilitate adaptation to changes. Thoughtful scheduling provides consistency for kids and makes life easier for parents. But changes happen. A rainy day will cancel beach plans; a friend may go on vacation when your child expected a playdate. Resilience gets a boost when kids learn to go with the flow. Help your child to adapt when summer expectations change.
4. Join your kids. The school year is busy and intense. Summer’s slower pace offers opportunities to enter your children’s world and see what makes them tick. Try planning free time or vacation time around family time. You will reap benefits in positive connections with the kids.
5. Provide support for transitions. Summer is transition time for kids. They may be going to a new Grade, new school or new situation. Talking to them about what is coming - and where they are going - helps them prepare mentally and emotionally for the next step. This type of support will add tools to their repertoire of coping skills.
6. Have fun! When the kids know you are having fun with them, they feel good about you and about themselves. The precious time they spend with you growing up flies by in a blink of an eye. Summer pleasures can create sweet nectar for your children’s self-esteem, and put ‘miracle grow’ on their respect and connection with you.
Summer strategies can be summed up with this mantra: Join them and enjoy them!
Bette Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, is a member of NASW with a background in parenting, women's issues and stress management. Bette specializes in offering practical wisdom for coping with difficult life situations. In addition, Bette conducts workshops and seminars focused on coping strategies, couples’ issues and emotional wellness.
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