Q: I want to be excited about this coming summer. However, I worry that this summer will be a repeat of last year. My kids slept most of the day, played video games all night, and raided the kitchen at all hours. I want my kids to enjoy this summer while keeping some sort of routine. What can I do to help my family?
A: Summer is a great time to enjoy down time together as a family. With longer days and no homework, families can enjoy life at a slower pace. However, while kids are counting down the days to the end of school, parents may feel a wave of anxiety. Whether you work inside or outside the home, thinking about what to do with kids when school is out can be stressful. Less structure during this time of the year is what makes the season more fun. Yet, less structure can add to your stress. During the summer, it often feels like the family routine takes a vacation, too. Getting kids in bed at a decent time, or keeping them from grazing in the kitchen all day long, can feel like a battle. Here are some tips to keep a routine.
Be intentional. Think about what you want the summer to be like. What did you dislike about last summer? How can you change things this year? What did you enjoy about last summer? How can you make sure those things happen again this year? Think about these questions and make a plan for what you want to happen this summer.
Create a family summer routine. For families at home or with older kids alone during the summer, creating a schedule can be helpful. Some families need an hour-by-hour schedule while others need a more general schedule for the day. You may include the following times in your family’s daily routine: when to wake up, meals, snacks, computer/phone/video-game time, free time, non-screen play time, chores and bedtime. Writing down a routine helps keep everyone on track each day.
Involve the entire family. Have a family meeting to discuss the summer schedule. Get kids involved in how the day should be and what should happen when. Kids are more likely to follow a routine they help to create. Kids love to be involved and can even help write down the schedule you create together.
Keep it fun. A summer routine does not have to be a strait-jacket for you and your family. Develop a routine that is realistic and allows you to add structure to your summer. This will ensure your family has the most fun. Make sure to schedule in fun time together as a part of your family routine. One great way to plan for fun is to create a summer “bucket list.” These activities may include having a water-balloon fight, camping out in the backyard, fishing or playing in the sprinklers. Talk as a family to make a list of must-do activities for this summer.
Working together as a family to plan the summer will help this time to be as fun for you as it is for your kids. Enjoy this time together.
Brenner FIT (Families in Training), a pediatric weight-management program at Wake Forest Baptist Health Brenner Children’s Hospital, helps families create healthier lifestyles together. Brenner FIT Kohl’s Family Collaborative offers free cooking, nutrition and parenting classes. Visit BrennerChildrens.org/BrennerFit for our current class listing. Register by calling 336-713-2348 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.