You know the song, “Summertime and the living is easy…” It sounds so inviting but that isn’t actually what I hear from parents. We envision relaxed time, more family connection and more fun. In reality, parents say there are lots of conflicts about screen time, hassling kids to read more, maybe play outside more and in the end feeling like you somehow missed out on what seemed in June to be a wonderful opportunity.
Ironically all that “freedom” can be confusing and even stressful. Working parents feel there isn’t enough time and at home parents feel overwhelmed with possibilities. This summer consider a new approach – make a big, positive PLAN with your family.
Start by scheduling a few family meetings right now – choose times everyone can be there. If you are a single parent with one child, make a schedule of those meetings anyway. A schedule emphasizes the importance of the process of planning. And all families may want to include other regular and close family supports like grandparents or childcare providers in the process.
Before the meeting talk with your partner or other adults participating and think about what you need to get done this summer and be sure those obligations are included in all planning.
Some steps to help the planning process:
- Invite each member of the family to describe what they really want to happen over the summer – especially any particular trips, adventures or activities. Let kids know in advance that you will be asking this question. Invite younger kids to draw pictures of what they are dreaming about for summer. At the meeting make a list of everyone’s wishes. Put check marks on those that are repeated by more than one member.
- Discuss daily routines and how they might be the same or change once school is out. These might include family play time, screen time, reading time, other activities.
- Together create a big calendar that indicates special events and activities, camp time, etc. Be sure to include rain dates for outdoor events. Post the calendar and revise it as time goes along.
Thinking and dreaming together as a family about how your summer will unfold will make all the difference. Don’t assume you know what your kids or others in the family want. Be open and curious in this process and negotiate agreements about behavior, daily routines and big events.
For more ideas about making this a truly easy and happy summer, join us for “Spring into Summer: Make this Summer a Happy One for Your Children and Family” at: http://www.peaceathomeparenting.com/webinar-registration-form/