Guest Blogger, Sean Morris
Summer vacation is glorious for kids. They look forward to three months of freedom, the ability to sleep in (if they’re lucky), later bedtimes, and no schedules to follow or homework to keep up with. But for parents, summer vacation can be the stuff of nightmares. From keeping your kids in check to getting them to maintain some semblance of a schedule, managing the summer months is easier said than done.
1. Involve your kids in creating their routine and choosing summer activities.
The idea of sticking to a regular schedule during summer vacation probably doesn’t sound all that appealing to your kids. However, if you get them involved in the process and ask them what activities they’d like to participate in this summer, it gives them a sense of ownership over their own schedule – so they’ll be more open to the idea.
2. Keep a regular bedtime routine.
While your children may see summer vacation as their opportunity to stay up until the wee hours of the morning, keeping a regular bedtime routine is one of the most important things you can do to keep your kids in check this summer.
Lack of sleep can lead to mood swings, irritability, impulsive behavior, and other undesirable effects. Plus, straying too far from your usual bedtime routine can make it even harder to transition back to school in the fall.
3. Limit cell phone use and screen time.
With no commitments like homework, summer can become a free-for-all in terms of screen time. If your kids have cell phones, smartphones, or tablets, these devices become their connection to staying in touch with their friends they’re used to seeing all day, every day. Obviously, this can quickly become problematic.
Additionally, research has shown consistently that people who check messages and notifications before bed or use their devices in bed get a poorer quality of sleep than those who avoid screen time in their bedrooms, so limiting screen time before bed is key. Plus, they could end up using their phones late into the night — a habit which can quickly lead to sleep deprivation.
4. Create a (relaxed) schedule that’s relatively easy for your kids to follow on their own, with minimal intervention and oversight from you.
Of course, this depends on your the age of your kids and how independent they are. If they’re at an age and responsibility level where they’re able to be “in charge” of their day under your guidance, you are helping create structure while strengthening the level of trust in your parent-child relationship.
5. Aim for scheduled chaos.
You don’t want to take all the fun out of summer vacation, but too-rigid schedules and over-stimulation with too many planned activities can do just that. Aim to create a well-balanced mix of structured activities, family time, and free time during which your kids can choose how they’ll spend their time (this might be a nice time for watching TV or playing on the iPad/tablet).
Rather than feel overwhelmed heading from one structured activity, camp, or play date to the next, make balance your goal for the summer. Do what is best for you and your clan by scheduling a healthy mix of educational activities to keep their minds sharp, free time they can spend alone to decompress, and enriching fun with family and friends. Hopefully this is the ticket to not only a successful, stress-free summer vacation, but also an easy transition back to school in a few months.
About the Author:
Sean Morris is a former social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He knows what it’s like to juggle family and career. He did it for years until deciding to become a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he has found this additional time with his kids to be the most rewarding experience of his life. He began writing for LearnFit.org to share his experiences and to help guide anyone struggling to find the best path for their life, career, and/or family.