Already sweating about summer break? Although this extended break can be a much needed breather from the demands of the school year, it brings with it the stress of managing your family’s free time. Below are five strategies to help keep you sane and your children happy this summer.
1. Keep Sibling Rivalry At Bay
The unstructured time of summer can lead to more opportunities for your children to argue. Avoid sibling rivalry by setting ground rules and monitoring progress through regular family meetings. When issues do arise, learn when to step in and when to step back. Children need to learn skills to get along and to appropriately disagree with one another. For example, when children are unsuccessful in resolving conflict, take a coaching approach as opposed to “fixing” the problem for them. Step in to help children talk through the issue and model for them the communication and coping skills needed to resolve the conflict.
2. Limit Technology
Keep your children’s minds and bodies active this summer by encouraging physical play and social interactions free from technology. Interactive play and hands-on experience supports children’s development by helping them to learn and practice physical, social, emotional and mental skills. Set guidelines for when and how long your children will be permitted to use technology and monitor their activities so you can stick to the plan.
3. Make Time For Family
It’s easy for summer schedules to take the family in different directions. Plan ahead and schedule family time to keep your family connected. Whether it be a movie night or a weeklong vacation, quality time together is a great opportunity to give your children positive attention and make them feel important. Get your children’s input on what activities they would like to do with the family so that they are more willing and excited to participate.
4. Keep Routines
Summer schedules may be more relaxed but routines are still important. Routines are a great tool for preventing problem behavior and teaching new skills. Children do best when routines are consistent and predictable. Routines can also help alleviate stress and help children transition between activities. Some routines to keep over the summer are chores, sleep schedules, meal times, family time and quiet time. By simply creating a daily schedule, you and your children can benefit by feeling more secure and productive.
5. Take Care Of Yourself
Don’t forget about you. While keeping your children happy and healthy this summer, don’t neglect your own well-being. Be sure to take some time to unwind and unplug in order to de-stress. Take time to do the things you love and don’t feel bad saying “no” to some of the extras that can take time away from you. Your children will benefit from a happy and more relaxed parent.
The Long Island Parenting Institute will continue to run workshops and support groups this summer. For more information, contact 631-737-9384 or check out www.eacinc.org/long-island -parenting-institute.
Kathryn Cannino is the program director of EAC Network’s Long Island Parenting Institute. She is a Certified Family Life Educator through the National Council on Family Relations and is dedicated to her work with Long Island families. Learn more at www.eacinc.org/long-island-parenting-institute.