By Ashley Manship, MSW, LCSW, Youth First, Inc.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle staying in a routine and making summertime with my kids as meaningful as it can be. Join me this summer in planning while also not being afraid to be a “spur of the moment” parent! Here are just a few ideas you can use to plan out a summer of fun in advance.
1. Create a monthly calendar for your summer schedule. Put it on the fridge or somewhere visible, listing all the activities scheduled for each month. Kids can see what is coming up and feel a sense of order.
2. Stick to a daily routine during summer break. Kids crave parameters. The great thing is if you go off schedule occasionally, it’s okay because it’s summer break! Many kids love spontaneity and fun, so if you decide to have a beach day instead of the scheduled “clean your room day,” they will roll with it.
3. Establish summertime chores and responsibilities. Agreeing on daily chores during the summer can help children foster a sense of responsibility. This can be part of their morning routine. Create tasks that are age appropriate and explain to kids that they earn their screen time, ice cream, or other rewards by completing chores accurately and without complaint.
4. Give each day of the week a theme. “Movie Monday” or “Whacky Wednesday” are great ways to give the kids something to look forward to! Enroll kids in summer camps when available. This is a great way to break up a long summer.
5. Go outside and play. Having some scheduled daily outdoor time is a great way to get some Vitamin D for their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Don’t forget to help your children apply sunscreen for outdoor fun!
6. Manage screen time with screen slips. It’s easy for kids to waste summer away staring at screens. Screens are addictive and kids cannot monitor their screen usage themselves. Screen slips can help motivate kids to accomplish important tasks each day before they log on to an iPad or watch TV.
7. Keep a summer adventure bag in the car. Pack a bag with stuff you will need for an impromptu adventure. Sunscreen, bug spray, towels, hats, extra clothes, etc., are essential items that won’t leave you scrambling to prep things for every outing.
Summer can often feel as if it’s over in the blink of an eye for both students and parents. Use these tips to make the most of summer break, maximize additional family time, and create long lasting memories with your kids.