Many parents have high hopes and wonderful wishes for a nice relaxing summer. For the first week or two parents may feel like things are going well—they are stocked with freezer pops, have plenty of sunscreen and flip-flops, and make several trips to the pool. But a few weeks after the last day of school, many parents are far from relaxed. Here are a few summertime parenting tips that may come in handy.
* Invite children to create a summer bucket list. Start by writing down all ideas, no matter how expensive or unrealistic—let children dream a little. Then get their input about shortening the list and begin with some that are realistic and doable such as visiting a park, having ice cream for breakfast, or sleeping on the trampoline. Children love to have their ideas heard and enjoy being able to have a say when it comes to summer activities.
* It is okay to have an “okay” summer – don’t promise the “best summer ever.” If you are not able to cross everything off the bucket list, acknowledge that you may have to wait for another time. Remember, it is not a parent’s job to fix everyone’s boredom and entertain all summer.
* Step away from social media – constantly viewing and posting can be overwhelming and exhausting. Comparing your “dull days” to someone else’s “magical moments” can be depressing and stressful. Live in your own moments and enjoy the time together without letting the world know about it.
* Maintain some responsibilities and a schedule – yes, summertime is often a break from school activities, but children should still have some responsibilities such as making their bed, keeping their room clean, or pulling weeds. Believe it or not, research shows children (and adults) THRIVE with predictability, schedules, and routines.
* Bring back the books – many children cannot wait to ditch the backpack and forget about tests and quizzes. But that does not mean they should take a break from books. Reading during the summer, even 20 minutes before they can play with friends, can keep their brains sharp, and away from screens.
* Grow a garden - whether it’s growing vegetables and plants, helping at a community garden or simply a small pot, children may enjoy caring for veggies and plants—and giving them responsibility can be rewarding.
* Nurture your own relationships – summer camps and carpools can be both exhausting and time-consuming. Be sure to make time for your own relationships with your partner or friends. Putting the children to bed earlier and enjoying a night out is good for you and your relationships.
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