As the first weeks of summer approach, many students are anxiously waiting for a summer full of sleepovers and summer camp, especially after a busy and hectic school year. Just as many students look toward their summer with a little apprehension, as they fear a loss of routine and a loss of activities they enjoyed- such as the guarantee that they would see their friends each day. Research shows that the “perfect” summer lies in combining the two- the “wild child” way of always wanting to stay busy, and the child who flourishes with and needs a structured schedule. To fully allow children and teens to recharge from the school year, it is key that they still maintain a structured schedule and expectations from parents, while also having plenty of time to run wild and free and relax as much as they need. Though this is much easier said than done, we have plenty of tips to offer in making this transition as smooth as possible!
- Acknowledge that no matter how excited your child is for the summer, the transition may be rocky. Your child may be unprepared to stop seeing their friends every day, spend so much time with their siblings, or lose the routine they got so used to.
- Set a family meeting in the early summer to give you and your child or teen a chance to talk about boundaries and their goals for the summer, such as trying a new sport. This would be a good time to discuss things like a continuing a set, but later, bedtime, or giving your child the chance to advocate for their privacy, such as not wanting their siblings in their room at certain times.
- Consider how, or if, certain rules will be changed. This may include a later curfew or continuing a rule, such as “chores must be done before phone-time”.
- Help your child maintain a healthy level of busy. Camps, part-time jobs, and volunteering are great ways to keep your children and teens acclimated socially and in a routine. Remember that children still need time to simply play at home or outside, and teens still need time to unwind, whether that is by texting their friends, watching TV, etc.
- Implement time for education. Especially with younger children, summer has proven to a time where children can fall very behind in their previous studies. Don’t worry- this can still be fun! It can be as simple as finding time to read to your child each day or supporting your teen in finding a summer internship.
- Make sure your child or teen is going outside and getting their sunshine! It can be easy, especially for teens, to self-isolate and become codependent on their screentime, but this will only worsen any preexisting mental health conditions and make it even harder to return to school.
Just as importantly, be sure to spend some genuine and meaningful time together as a family, and we wish you all the best of summers!