For many families, June is a mixed bag. The routines of the school year, and the rounds of year-end celebrations and rituals, suddenly give way to summer, which, with its promises of freedom and leisure, can create a new kind of stress. That stress is most keenly felt by working parents, parents on a budget, over-scheduled families, and families with children who need extra time to adjust to summer’s new routines.
Here are five ways to ease your family’s transition to summer.
1. Discuss your child’s feelings. Some kids feel confused or dismayed about the passage of time, and this can be especially acute during seasonal transitions and graduations from classes or schools—even more so because parents and the culture at large are telling kids that the events are “supposed” to be celebratory. Try to allow some time and space for children to express their concerns and needs.
2. Help your kids with summer transitions and changes. Some children need more time than others to shift into summer’s activities, and others need the kind of continued structure that summer doesn’t often provide. Try to give some thought to the ways in which your household routines will change. Will mealtimes, bedtimes or morning routines be different? Is there a new camp or activity, visitors or travel? Let your kids know about these changes. Decide whether you’re going to have different rules around technology, outdoor time, exercise or chores during the summer, and discuss them with your kids. Try to leave extra time for camp and other drop-offs and pick-ups. If your child will be attending a new school in the fall, talk about that over the summer and try to visit if you can. Here are more ways to help kids with the changes of summer houseguests and travel.
3. Take advantage of summer to reconnect. Transitional periods can require a lot of extra psychic and practical energy. Try to carve out some unstructured time for your kids and your family. Take a family walk in your neighborhood after dinner. Pull a chair outside at twilight and watch the first stars come out. You’ll reconnect and regain a sense of equilibrium, as well as an appreciation for the season. You’ll also have an opportunity to talk about transitions with your kids in a gentle way. Make sure to get out in nature, too—it’s a great way to gain a different perspective outside of imposed schedules and tasks, and access the beauty and awe of the turning world. Here are more ideas for connecting as a family in summer.
4. Explore inexpensive and non-traditional options. Many parents rightfully worry about child care coverage for their kids while they work, or options for their kids if they are home with them. You may want to explore inexpensive local options such as those offered through your local library, or parks and recreation department, or pool. Summer can be a great time for you or your kids to explore a new project or hobby. Here are some other ideas for simple and inexpensive summer activities the whole family can enjoy. In addition, don’t shy away from leaving empty space on the calendar. Summer is the perfect time to encourage the creativity and introspection that can only come from allowing a little boredom into your kids’ lives.
5. Seek resources from Parents Place. If you or your children continue to struggle with summer’s changes or lack of structure, contact us to schedule a consultation in person or via Skype, or see one of these additional resources:
- It’s Summer, so Why is My Child so Anxious?
- 5 Reasons Summer is Tough on Parents (and what to do about it), which includes additional resources for children with special needs
- Summer and the Living is Easy?
- What Happened to Summertime? 7 Tips to Make it Great
- Summer is Time to Slow it Down
Susan Sachs Lipman (Suz) is the author of Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains 300+ activities for family fun and grew out of her blog, Slow Family Online. Slow Parenting and the book were named a 2012 Top 10 Parenting Trend by TIME Magazine. Suz has written for the New York Times’ Motherlode blog, the Christian Science Monitor’s Modern Parenthood blog, and many others. She is the Social Media Director for JFCS and Parents Place.