While kids adore summer break and the lackadaisical days they spend away from the classroom, parents often feel quite the opposite. As summer heats up, so too do kids’ schedules. From sport tournaments and camps to play dates and vacations, trying to fit everything into the right spaces throughout the week can feel like a maddening puzzle.
By mid-summer, parents long for the predictability of school days. It doesn’t have to be difficult, however, to create a fun and productive summer schedule for kids while maintaining your sanity. The key is, of course, balance. Try these five tips to keep you and your kids happy, healthy and having fun all summer long.
Choose what matters most
It’s difficult to resist over-scheduling. Parents want to give their children as many opportunities as possible and therefore fill up calendars until they overflow. This is draining for all involved. To avoid this pitfall, sit down and have an honest conversation with kids about what they really want to do with their time off. Do they want to try a new activity? Continue a beloved hobby? You might assume they want one thing when really they’re longing for another.
Create rules for scheduling kids activities. For example, leave Friday evenings open each week for family game night, or opt out of commitments on Sunday so you can visit spend time together. Another option is the tell your child they can schedule up to three different activities a week. So if he/she has a Bricks 4 Kidz class on Tuesday night and dance class on Thursday morning, he/she has only one other day available for play dates.
Summer is a social season. In addition to holidays, there’s loads of family barbecues, employee picnics, community parades and birthday celebrations. There’s no rulebook that states you must do them all. Learn to say no and politely decline invitations if the event will cause too much family stress. There’ll always be another time to have a sleepover or bonfire.
Schedule open time
Want to regain some of the unstructured magic from the summer vacations of your childhood? It may seem counter-intuitive, but try scheduling down time. Leave entire days open for spontaneous adventures, slow hikes through the woods, time at the beach, reading in the shade or whatever the day inspires your kids to do.
Part of the reason summers feel so busy is because daily structure goes out the window for kids. Add some sanity to the family schedule by maintaining sleep and wake times, meal times and chore responsibilities. Kids crave structure and like to know what is expected from them, so this benefits everyone involved.