More than ever, children need downtime. Their internal clocks require a shift from schedules, homework, and screen time to enjoy the lazy days of summer and all that they offer.
Our bodies are more relaxed with the warmer days and increased daylight—all conducive to enjoying more outside time and new freedoms. Consider letting your children sleep according to their natural rhythms and wake up when their bodies tell them to, not by an alarm. Children generally need 10 to 12 hours of sleep, but few get this during the school year. If your children go to camp, select one that starts a little later than the school day.
To give your children a balance of activity and downtown this summer, here are some activities to consider:
Encourage your children to walk whenever possible. Visit new parks or explore new neighborhoods so your children can see the distinct personality of where you live.
Carve out unscheduled time during the day so your children can daydream, draw, write, or do an art project. Nurturing hobbies and interests helps to bring out new dimensions to their personalities and, perhaps, allows them to make new friends. Art in particular can be therapeutic and soothing.
Explore farmers’ markets and teach children about where different foods come from. Planting a garden at home or in a community garden is a great way to teach children to care for something. It is rewarding for children to their seeds grow, and watering and weeding allow them to focus unhurriedly on one task.
Change the backdrop of where you eat dinner. Go to a park or a beach and let children enjoy open spaces with a friend or family member before and after the meal.
Pick a long chapter book to read from every night as a family, encouraging your children to take a turn at expressing themselves through the stories they pick. You can also help your children act out plays or put on puppet shows, which enable children to use their imaginations and be active participants.
More than anything, enjoy the summer together and, whenever possible, find ways to break with routine and enjoy this magical season.