Kids Need a Summer Schedule

, ,

By Ellen Dippel, MSW, LSW, Youth First, Inc.

It’s summertime! The days are longer and the air is warmer. This time of year, it’s much easier to toss routines out the window. Who needs a bedtime when there are fireflies to catch and s’mores to roast?

It’s okay to loosen your schedule when summer comes, but we shouldn’t completely throw away all the time spent during the school year establishing a healthy routine for your family.

Your daily schedule may look more relaxed in the summer. You might not need to wake up quite as early and be rushed out the door to the bus stop. However, keeping an earlier wakeup time and not allowing your kids to get in a habit of sleeping until noon will make your back-to-school season smoother when the time comes.

Start your day discussing your plans and goals. This is a great time to get your family’s input on what they might want to accomplish for the day. It is also a good time to front- load them with any information they might not want to hear. If there is an unpopular activity (like a dentist or doctor appointment) that day, you will want them to have a heads up about this activity.

Eating meals and snacks at regular times is important for maintaining routines as well. Sometimes kids get busy playing and forget to eat. Creating set times and space for snacks and meals helps ensure they’re getting the nutrition they need during the summer months. Get creative during this time. This is the perfect opportunity to invite your kids to help you plan their meals and make their snacks.

Be sure to keep bedtime routines the same. This includes keeping a consistent time, which is not only good for their health but will also help tremendously with creating a healthy back-to-school routine. It can also prevent your child from becoming overly tired with the more strenuous activities they may be involved in during the summer months. 

Plan for fun! Kids need a good combination of structured time and creative free play. Mixing planned time with down time, when your kids pick their own activity and play independently, are both very important. Parents sometimes feel a need to create never-ending magic, which turns into overscheduling and exhausting your kids. Letting their imaginations thrive is a great use of their time as well. 

Having structure doesn’t have to mean no fun. Kids need structure and consistency to feel secure. By providing routine, you’re giving them a sense of security that will help ease their anxiety and give them a sense of safety. With the consistency and structure of a well-established routine, there will be plenty of time for catching fireflies and roasting marshmallows, but you will also be able to enjoy the comfort of predictability.