Summer is rushing toward us and suddenly we realize we may not have done enough planning. The kids are out of school. So how do we make this work?
Today’s newsletter will give you lots of ideas and information. With some planning the summer can be fun and workable for both the kids and adults.
But first I want to mention a news release that just went out. As you may be aware I am chair of the Steering Committee for Corinne’s Quest: End Physical Punishment of Children. We are thrilled that Raffi has come on board to help us with this campaign. Take a look.
Summer holidays are now upon us, and harried parents, faced with the prospect of having children at home all day for the next two months, are in a panic. You thought you had it all figured out and organized, but now you wish you had done just a bit more, or maybe a lot more, planning.
Let’s talk first about parents who will be home with the kids for the summer. Then we’ll address those who go off to the workplace every day.
Children need some structure and some freedom. Many summer problems are caused by the lack of structure for children. If day after day they just get up whenever, eat at variable times and play in the house, yard and neighbourhood, it’s a sure bet that they’ll whine and be very unhappy. The trick is to change the structure and make it much more flexible and less demanding than the school year, but structure nonetheless.
• Set week-day wake-up and breakfast later, but make it part of the routine. You can always make an adjustment when they have been up later the night before for some special event. The age of your children will determine how late. For teens, forget it. They’ll sleep as long as they can and unless there’s a good reason for wake-up. So let them luxuriate in all this wonderful bed-time. But elementary school-aged kids need a time to get moving. So have a breakfast time during the week, but let them laze longer on the weekends.
• Plan a mix of outings, home-based activities and free time. This is the chance for you to play tourist in your own town. Visit all those attractions you’ve seen advertised but never managed to actually see. Plan some special events at home, whether it’s simply taking time to play board games with the kids or planning a party for their friends.
And make sure there’s some time for the kids to simply hang out and daydream. Free time is a great gift to give the kids. It allows them to get to know themselves, to learn how entertain themselves and to even figure out how to handle boredom all on their own.
If they are used to being scheduled this will be tough for them at first, but resist saving them. When they come whining to say they are bored, reassure them that you are convinced they can handle that.
• Have the children help around the house (after all, it’s your summer vacation too!!) This is a great time to teach them how to cook or do the laundry. Make it a group activity and the kids will love it.
• For most children it is a good idea to enroll them in some community-based activity. They’ll enjoy some structure and you will enjoy the break. So whether it’s a program at the local park or community centre or a residential summer camp, an activity that fits their interests is a great idea.
• Summer is a good time for sleep-overs (especially outside), picnics and long walks on the beach or in the mountains.
• Relax and enjoy your children, read to them, go for walks, go to the beach. Get to know these little people.
• If you have a backyard pool, or there is one in the neighbourhood, make sure the children are aware of all the safety rules.
Now, all this is very well and good when you are home with the kids during the summer months. If you need childcare, try to fit it to meet the needs of your child. If you have a kid who would really like to hang out at home, consider hiring a university student to look after him at your house. If she needs to be in a program, consider a change from her usual childcare just to make summer special.
Summer can also be a good time to visit grandparents. If she spends a lot of time with a grandparent it can be an enriching experience. Your child will hear all sorts of stories from the past, giving her an enhanced sense of her roots. She will also likely develop some new skills and will come home with a solid sense of extended family.
Teens who are home alone need some structure and expectations. A summer job is a great idea. At the very least, you can expect them to pull their weight around the house taking on meal preparation at least once a week, doing laundry and helping with the gardening.
With a little thought and planning summer can be great for all of us.
Okay, I’m now heading back to the hammock now.
Are all four-year-olds alike? Absolutely not!
Sarah is shy, Jared is bossy and Pat is Easy-Going. What do we need to know about different temperaments?
Every child is unique and different. My mini guide e-book, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments addresses some of the temperaments we see in our kids.
I looked at my two children who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a textbook example of different.
But, now I have three grandchildren, all the same age and the differences from their births has been striking.
The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments. The guide is available on my website.
How Can I Bring Kathy to My Community?
I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.
And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
I look forward to working with you for your professional development, workplace wellness or parenting education event.