Summertime – just say the word and it evokes visions of the beach, barbecues, long relaxing evenings, and family vacations. However, for a lot of parents, the moment that final bell rings in June signals the end of their carefully constructed routines, and the beginning of two months of chaos. How do you keep your kids on track and possibly even enjoy yourself? Read on for the dos and don’ts of summer.
- Don’t over schedule your kids: School may be out, but over the past ten years or so, the summer time demands on our kids have increased. There are math camps, tennis camps, volunteer hours, community service projects, and summer internships. The pressure to use this time productively can be so immense, that it’s easy to forget to schedule in some time to let your kid just be a kid. Remind yourself and your child that missing out on one opportunity does not spell doom and gloom for their illustrious future.
- Do establish some routine: However, it is important to have some semblance of routine during the summer months. Particularly if your child struggles with ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, learning disabilities, and/or executive functioning deficits, maintaining a schedule is key to smoother summer sailing. Work with your child to come up with a routine that provides a mixture of fun and responsibility. If you find that your child needs a little extra incentive to ditch the screens, Wi-fi passwords given at the end of the day, once the schedule is complete make for fantastic reinforcement for sticking with the program!
- Don’t give in to pressure to keep up with the neighbors, your extended family, or your kids’ friends: Summertime can also mean pressure, pressure, pressure. The neighbor’s kids are off to space camp, your cousins are summering in Ibiza, and it seems as though every single child in your pre-school is enrolled in some pre, pre, pre college preparatory program guaranteed to produce miniature scholars. What’s a parent to do?
- Do make plans based on your family’s and your child’s needs: Remember that every family is different, and every child is different. Rather than focusing on what everyone else is doing, plan activities and experiences that are suited to your family’s needs and budget. Check out this list of free and inexpensive things to keep you and your little ones entertained!
- Don’t forget to spend some time taking care of yourself: For parents, summertime often feels like a far cry from those carefree sunscreen commercials of our youth. Parents who come to my office often tell me that guilt is the number one emotion that keeps them from taking time to care for themselves. What to do?
- Do make sure to schedule in some child free time: Much like the directive to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others in the event of an in-flight emergency, you need to take the time to take care of yourself in order to be the best parent that you can be! Need some guidance? Check out this helpful article on the importance of self-care.
Have any tips you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below!
Dr. Scrivani specializes in the Cognitive Behavioral treatment of anxiety and related disorders, behavioral parent training, and provides tele-mental health services to residents of New York, Florida, and internationally. Call (888) 535-5671 or email [email protected] to set up a free consultation.