Do you remember the Staples television commercial with a father gleefully hanging off of the back of a shopping cart and loading up on school supplies while his two kids sulk behind him with big frowns? This commercial perfectly captures the highs and lows of the summer months. Kids are thrilled about weeks of lazing around. But parents start counting the days until school is back in session just a week or two into summer break.
Here are some tips for surviving the long, hot summer months.
Surviving the Summer Means Keep it Simple
While kids might wish otherwise, do not throw your school day routines completely out the window! Keep as many of those routines in place as possible. Going to bed, waking up, and eating at the same times that you do during the school year are good for our physical and emotional well-being. Adjusting to major changes to our daily routine is hard on our bodies and minds. Cranky kids and hot weather are not a very pleasant combination!
Up, Eat, Repeat
The school day routine provides the daily structure we all crave. Day after day of unplanned, unscheduled time is hard on kids and caretakers. If summer camp, internships, and other structured programs are not an option, develop a daily schedule for summer months.
For example, each day you might wake up at 8am, eat breakfast, go outside for an hour, play games indoors until lunch, have an hour of quiet time after lunch, and then go to the pool or back outside in the afternoon. Tuesdays might become the day to invite a friend over. And Fridays are family adventure day (see below.) Developing and sticking to a daily schedule makes things predictable for caretakers and kids.
Take a Hike!
Summer months provide many more opportunities to be outside. Spending time outdoors is essential to healthy bodies and minds. It’s also one of the best ways to relieve stress. North Carolina has hundreds of public parks. Many are in the shade and some even have spray gardens. And there’s certainly no limit to walking and hiking opportunities in this beautiful state.
Do Something New
Make a list of all the things you would like to do with your kids, but don’t have time to do during the school year. Head to the farmer’s market and try some strange new foods. Borrow a book on CD from the library to listen to as a family. Go to a museum during free admission hours. Attend a cultural festival.
There are dozens of free and low-cost activities for kids during summer months. Pick a day of the week and make it your official, summer-long “adventure day.” Take pictures and keep a scrapbook of your adventures.
Because, before you know it, summer will be over. And although the days can seem long, the years are short. Most of us only get 18 summers with our kids. Here’s to hoping we don’t just survive them, but embrace and enjoy them.