Published in the Parent’s Resource Guide, Spring 2015
When my daughter was growing up, I used to get a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach around this time of year. The school year would be coming to an end. The long, unstructured days of summer were approaching. As a mostly stay-at-home mom, a feeling of trepidation would begin to creep in. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my daughter’s company. I did plenty. I just didn’t want to be entertainment central, 24-7, all summer long. I also did not want to park her in front of a screen when I wanted to get something done or to have some downtime to myself. Eventually, I began to figure out a few things that made summertime liven easy—as the Gershwin tune says. Here are some ideas that may help you too:
- Create a loose structure for summertime and prepare your children for what to expect. Routines and rituals can be a parent’s best friend. If your children come to expect certain activities at certain times of day, it can take the struggle right out of it. For example, if bedtime is at 7:30 every night, no ifs ands or buts, your child will come to expect it.
- Build in some downtime for everyone, including you! Even if the children don’t nap anymore, you can have “rest time” where the children may choose quiet activities, such as reading or looking a picture books by themselves.
- Incorporate a few changes of scenery into your daily routine. It can lift everyone’s spirits to get outside of the same four walls. This can be as simple as a daily midmorning tour of the backyard to see what kinds of insects are crawling about.
- Plan something for everyone to look forward to each week. This could be a trip to the swimming pool, the library, or fun at the park.
- Expect it to take some time to enforce the new routine. I am always reminded of the beginning of Kindergarten and how the teacher would go over the rules again and again with the children. It takes a while for them to get it. They will eventually relax into it, if you gently persist.
You might even start the process of preparing yourself for summer by imagining what kind of a summer you would find pleasurable. Imagine yourself happy and relaxed and enjoying your children. What kinds of things are you doing together? What might offer you a bit of rejuvenation? Perhaps you can create this space for yourself. If you give it some thought, and plan ahead and prepare your children to expect this new routine, it can make for some easier liven this summer.