A Teachable Moment—Whose Summer Is It Anyway?
We all look forward to the slower days and weeks of summer, but by about week three you might be wondering… whose summer is it anyway? Yes, it’s great to spend relaxed time with your kids, but it can be exhausting to prepare picnic lunches every day for the park or beach, and carefully plan trips and play dates for each rainy occasion. What’s more, no matter how tired you are after working all day—either outside your home or with your kids—their summer evenings seem to continue long past the school year bedtime, leaving you little time to unwind.
But, there is still a chance to save your summer! Before you start to feel like a chauffeur and party planner all in one, here are a few ideas to help you to enjoy this summer as much as your kids do!
- End the day. It may still be sunny at 9pm, but that doesn’t mean you still need to be entertaining your kids. At the end of each day, encourage them to occupy themselves with board games or books or other activities that don’t require your help. This may be the best time to allow TV and computer time. You should not feel guilty telling your child that at a certain time each day you will no longer supervise outdoor or social activities. Explain to your child that he needs to be inside, quietly winding down from the day.
- Get a babysitter. This is your summer too, so once a week, hire a babysitter, call in a grandparent, or trade childcare with a friend, so that you can enjoy the beach without kids, dine at an adult restaurant, or get a manicure.
- Consider camp or a class. During the summer, your child may enjoy the freedom from formal learning. However, a week or two at a day or sleep away camp may offer a great social experience for her and a much-needed break for you. A once or twice-a-week class (sports, art, acting) can offer similar benefits. Summer experiences are available at all price ranges and with various schedules to meet just about every family’s needs, and you can often register at the last minute.
- Stock up on snacks. This may seem trivial, but it’s not! Kids are home much more in the summer, so you will find yourself feeding them with greater frequency. It can be frustrating, expensive and tiring to find yourself constantly cooking, interrupting an activity to find food, or spending way more money than you should on vendor food. To combat this, make sure that you have a supply of frozen, packaged and easy to travel snacks that you can take with you wherever you are. Great examples include pizza frozen in individual slices; fruit and veggies, cheese sticks, low fat, natural deli meat, granola bars, ices, and single-serving pretzels or baked chips.
- Don’t feel guilty! Of course, it is important to keep kids of all ages occupied and supervised during the summer. However, this summer please give yourself permission to start and finish a book (or a TV show!), to sleep late if you have another adult to watch your child, and to join friends for a meal on a beautiful summer evening.
With the right planning, support and attitude, you will find that this summer can be as much fun for you as it is for them!
Dr. Susan Bartell is America’s #1 Family Psychologist. Her latest book is The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask. You can learn more about her at www.drsusanbartell.com.