We’ve reached the middle of the year already and Summer is in full swing. Time to kick back, relax and do whatever you want, right? That’s what your children think. And they’ve earned it . . . with your help of course, Awesome Parent, you! But because you are the parent, though the temptation may be great to just go with the proverbial ‘flow’ this hols, I want to challenge you to consider that freedom is best enjoyed within appropriate limits.
Why is this useful? Glad you asked! We’ve been talking about self care over the past months and when it comes to parenting, self care is all about balance and boundaries, for you and for your children. The quantity and quality of our own personal time is affected greatly by how well our kids manage their time, activities and consumption; the younger they are the more guidance they need in that respect.
Cast your mind to a time when your child was over-tired, over-extended or hyped up on sugar and think about how it affected your mood, your schedule or your plans for the night and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Furthermore you don’t want to get to the end of vacation and feel like you still need one, can I get a witness! It’s an indirect approach, but by helping little Kim and Calvert steward their time-off, not only are you helping them make the most of their break, but you’re maximising your family’s ability to start well when the new term rolls around. I call it the self care domino effect. Here are some ways to loosen the reins without losing your grip.
1. LET YOUR KIDS RELAX
It may sound like I’m contradicting myself, but rest is important. After investing so much into bringing home excellent reports they deserve some down time. If you’re going to send them to Maths camp, for example, make sure there’s also provision made for play.
2. DIVERSIFY THEIR PASTIME PORTFOLIO
Involve the kids in varied activities, especially those that get them off their butts. Sports, arts, volunteering, environmental exploits, developing a hobby, even writing to a pen-pal keeps their brains ticking over and bodies in check. Summer jobs/internships are a great way for older kids to gain job experience and plump up a CV, and of course make some moolah. Let them apply to be camp counsellors or babysit younger siblings so you guys can have a date ever so often.
3.DELIMIT SCREEN TIME
Children should not just sit in front the ‘tube’ or tablet all day, every day, until the first school bell of Michaelmas. I saw a cute post on Facebook that listed ‘tasks’ children should complete before being allowed to hop on the computer. Ideas included help a family member, read a book, build something and journal. My husband, Dwayne, has a ton of tips for using technology to fuel creativity and advance safe learning. He recommends the use of parental controls, and that we take initiative and interest in our children’s tech time. Expand their knowledge base by giving them intriguing daily assignments or interesting weekly projects and let them put that Internet to good use. He calls it techreation (as opposed to recreation) get it? Such a smart cookie. Encourage them to share about what media they’re engaging with. Engage with them. Watch Peppa Pig and play Temple Run for goodness sake. Get on their level. Remind them you’re fun. Ok, surprise them.
4. DON'T VEER TOO FAR OFF THE REGULAR TIME.
Now isn’t the time to let them neglect their chores. You might even give them new ones. They’ve got the time. Make a list of what needs to be done to be ready for the first day of school. Let them choose tasks and check them off as the weeks go by. Clean shoes, pack bags, freeze juices. If they help get them done ahead of time (shared responsibility) you won’t be as frazzled the night before. Make sure they’re still eating the right stuff. As soon as July hits my children transform into fast-moving hurricanes that consume twice their body weight. Their diet can’t be corn curls and tamarind balls. If you’re going to let them stay up later than usual start reducing that on a gradating scale as it draws nearer to September so by the time you get there everyone’s clock has readjusted.
5. SPACE HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS.
Don’t wait till a week before school starts to have them cram vacation homework in. You know your children. It’s better to work out with them or for them a work plan with measurable goals to achieve each week leading up to the start of school. If they’re the type that need motivation or rewards, work that into the summer shenanigans.
6.GET THE WHOLE FAMILY INVOLVED.
Take some of your holiday with your children if you can. Take advantage of summer specials and ‘staycate’ if you can’t ‘vacate’. Break out the board games. Get out into the great outdoors. Get fit together. Take time with family devotions and use this time to get knitted closer to the Lord and to each other. Eat dinner together. Put on a play for other family members. ‘Carry your own key.’ Take photos. Print them. Visit a children’s home. Do a beach clean up. Start a garden. Work on something together. Water war . . . I mean wash the car. Visit somewhere you’ve never been. Get lost getting there. Teach them a life skill. Get your hands dirty. Make hay while the summer sun shines. Remind your children that something else matters besides their stomachs and Nickelodeon. Remember how fabulous it is to just be together. Be grateful. Laugh a lot.
Putting some of these and your own great ideas into place will not only take the lazy out of their days and create lasting memories, but will contribute to your own stress reduction and set the tone for a fantastic year ahead.
Let us know if you think Tao’s 6 winning summer rules can keep you sane during this summer vacation in the comment section below!
Tao Howard Parent Blogger
Tao Howard is a little ‘crazy’ – by nature and by circumstance. The wife of one husband and mother of three boys with seemingly endless energy, she is 99% Bajan, 1% Trinidadian and a second generation purple lover and good food lover. Tao is passionate about good design, writing, and helping young people navigate, sustain and preserve their lives and relationships. Most of all she loves Jesus and worshiping Him in various expressions