Who doesn’t think of Alice Cooper on the last day of school before summer vacation?! Everyone is in a great mood, feeling relieved, excited about sleeping in, no exams, no projects … no schedule. Total freedom.
For some, that is all great news but for others that creates boredom and anxiety (for parents and teens alike). Regardless of how old your kids are, they all need structure, discipline and responsibility. Yes, even during the summer. But don’t worry, we’ve got some ideas for fun too!
A few suggestions to help you manage 8 weeks of no school:
- Help your kids (and yourself) with a schedule of events for the week. Allow your kids to reap the benefits of no school, but also ensure that they have things to do and goals to accomplish, so that they are not left to their own devices. Boredom and isolation are contributing factors to engaging in risky behaviors. Creating a plan, motivates and encourages healthy choices and increased productivity.
- Chores. Household chores are an effective way to create structure and responsibility in the home as well maintaining order and cleanliness. Depending on the age of your kids, will determine the level of their chores but every member of the family should be responsible for doing their part to pitch in around the house. Develop a system that clearly defines expectations, rewards and consequences for the work that is done (or not done). Keep a chart in a neutral and visible place for all to see. Explain to your kids, chores are not meant to be a punishment but rather a tool to teach them about respecting themselves and others, accountability, and basic survival skills – because soon enough they will have to do it on their own, so why not put them on the right path now?
- Identify household/family projects. The point to this is to promote family time, while taking care of that long list of “to do’s” that was left undone throughout the year. This should be different than chores, something the whole family participates in and can enjoy together when it’s completed. For example, building a tree house, planting a garden, painting a bedroom, organizing the garage, creating a game room, etc.
- Create specific times during the week, when TV, video games, cell phones, computer, social networking sites, etc., are all on silent and just talk. We know, this is a little scary now a days, without the help of a keyboard or a touch screen, but we have faith in you. It’s time to bring back good old fashioned talking! If you need help, The Book of Questions is a great conversation starter. Or give each member of the family a few pieces of paper, have everyone write down whatever they want to ask, drop the folded sheets into a bowl and then pick in random order. Be prepared, stay calm and answer honestly. You might just learn what your kids are thinking, feeling or curious about.
- Game Night! Go to your closet and pull out that old game of Sorry or Monopoly, or whatever has been collecting dust for all these years and have Game Night. Parents, teach your kids what is was like “back in the day” and remind each other, how much fun you have with one another (and of course, how competitive you can be!)
- Backyard Camping. Find yourself a cheap tent, big enough for the entire family and voila! Summer Camp suburban style. All you need is a sleeping bag, a flashlight, snacks, and some scary ghost stories and you’ve created a fun family memory and an easy tradition to continue every summer.
- Enjoy Mother Nature. Get outside, go for a walk, a bike ride. Learn to roller blade, hike a new trail, stroll along the beach, climb a tree. Connecting with nature is a great way to re-connect with your family.
- Take a trip down memory lane. Print out those pictures from the computer that have been stored for years and make an album for each of your kids or each year of their school. Include them in the process, reliving funny stories and creating new memories. Don’t forget to show them your albums from when you were their age. Compare and contrast the changes from then until now. Kids may roll their eyes when you start off saying “when I was your age, we didn’t have ….” but deep down they love to hear the stories of when you were young – reminds them, that you were once just like them!
It is important to stay connected with your kids, despite their desires to be off and running all the time. Nurture their summer time independence, encourage them to be “free” but also establish healthy boundaries and open lines of communication.
We’ve shared a few simple ideas to help you get started on having a fantastic and successful summer break, let us know what you do in your home.