Summer is upon us and that means children often are free to enjoy lazy days and extended bedtimes. However, parents may not feel the same way as children do in regard to the whole concept of “freedom” so, for the child’s sake, it’s important to keep up with structure and routine when possible.
Routines: One way to keep everyone happy (and parents sane) is to stick to the schedule children keep during the school year (with some room to bend). While sleeping in and staying up late seems to go hand-in-hand with summer days, keeping children on the same school schedule can help keep them cooperative and comfortable. Predictability is important because sudden changes can cause children to feel anxious. By sticking to the same wake-up routine (brushing teeth, having breakfast), parents can create a sense of normalcy for everyone.
Schedule: Getting ahead of a child’s schedule during the summer break is just as important as following routines. Parents should make a list of their children’s friends available over the summer and start scheduling playdates. If this proves to be challenging, try a community parent group or meet-up groups at the local library.
Activities: On hot days, it may be tempting to opt for screen time if children seem restless and parents find themselves juggling several tasks at once. One suggestion to remedy this is to get children involved in outdoor activities such as biking, swimming, or even hiking. By doing this, children will get some physical activity in to burn off energy, whether mentally or physically.
Local recreation departments, your town’s summer calendar, and www.westchestercounty.gov are great sources of free and or cheap activities.
If you’re stuck indoors on a rainy day, grab an old sheet and make a tent. Add some favorite books and healthy snacks for an imagination-filled rainy day. Or, play in the puddles!
While the summer isn’t stress-free proof, it can be a little bit easier to navigate when keeping children on their typical routines as well as enjoying all the outdoors has to offer.
Blog by Donna Morrison, deputy executive director for early childhood programs. You can reach Donna here.