All moms know that as soon as everyone gets used to the family routine or schedule, the schedule changes. For families with school aged children, perhaps the most abrupt change comes with the end of the school year. The school year hums along one minute, busy as usual, and then all of the sudden it’s June! The last few weeks of the school year are a flurry of projects, exams, end of year parties, and graduations, and then abruptly the school year is over, and the children are home with nothing to do. I can just about count the minutes before someone in our house says, “I’m bored…”
If you didn’t spend the month of February planning vacations, summer camps and enrichment activities for your children’s summer don’t despair! There is time yet to establish a summer routine that will work for you and your children.
Some families start the summer by brainstorming a list of activities, both indoor and outdoor. They post the list in a public spot in their house. Periodically, one member of the family chooses an activity they would like to do. Maybe your son wants to go bowling and chooses that as his special outing one week. Maybe your daughter wants to go to the driving range and hit some golf balls. Maybe you really want to take your children to the art museum or on a hike. Maybe your toddler would like everyone to go to the zoo. Everyone can have a turn to do something they like and hopefully you’ll have more buy-in when it’s your turn to pick.
Some families also create a “I’m bored list”. The idea behind this is that the parents are not asked to provide suggestions when kids “run out of fun”, as one child cleverly put it. The “I’m bored list” should be an exhaustive document that includes anything age appropriate for your family, from playing a board game, biking to see if a friend is home, to helping a parent prepare dinner, to taking a nap, or something as simple as going outside and shooting hoops for fifteen minutes. The more thorough the better, but this list should probably not include things like watching TV or playing videogames.
Before the teenager in your house gets too accustomed to sleeping in until noon every day and spending the rest of the day in their pajamas playing Xbox or watching YouTube videos, it might be a good idea to set some summer guidelines.
Good school year routines regarding bed times shouldn’t fall to the way side completely. Some children struggle when they have vastly different bed times from day to day. This is true especially for children who already have trouble sleeping, such as those who have ADHD. It’s a good idea to set clear guidelines around summer bedtimes that will work for your family.
Set screen time guidelines for summer. It gets hard to motivate children to do anything once they are sucked in to their device. One great tool to help parents with this is called Qustodio. Parents can monitor online activity, block or set time limits for specific devices or apps. This will help your children maintain a healthy balance between the digital and real world.
Teens can apply for part time jobs, but younger tweens can also begin to earn spending money. Babysitting classes are available through Seattle Children’s hospital for teens and tweens ages 11-14. Kirkland Parks and Rec provides a one-day babysitting class called Super Sitters. Babysitting or working as a mother’s helper are great flexible summer time jobs. Pet sitting or dog walking can be another potential tween job. We know a fifth grader in our neighborhood who earns money mowing lawns for his neighbors.
It’s not too late to sign up for summer camps! I am all for kids running around the neighborhood with their friends until dark, or having quiet down time at home with a book, but it’s also fabulous for children to get to participate in a couple of summer camps. A great source for summer camp options is a website called Red Tricycle. Whether you have younger children who might enjoy an art camp, or older children who would like to learn to cook or code, Red Tricycle is a great resource. It’s always a great idea to reach out to other parents and coordinate so that your children have a buddy at camp with them and you have a carpool. Summer time is also a great time to start lessons for a musical instrument your child has been wanting to try. When you are searching for an instructor try takelessons.com and find teacher profiles in your zip code. Many teachers will come to your home to conduct lessons.
With good guidelines that work for parents and children and with a list of activities to draw from your family is sure to have a great time. Enjoy!