Children have a lot of free time on their hands in the summer. As parents, we might feel the need to schedule every minute; but resist the urge! Unstructured downtime each day is essential to your child’s happiness and well-being. Plus, it’s more important to have a consistent routine that’s realistic to maintain.
More than anything, your child needs a loving connection with you. So, whether it’s running through the sprinkler together or making s’mores, do at least one thing each day to connect and have fun.
Try to say ‘yes’ more often than usual.
Relaxing the rules and routines just a bit during the summer months can help reduce stress for the entire family. So go ahead – say ‘yes’ to that second popsicle; to staying up late AGAIN; to squirt gun and water balloon fights after work!
Start your own family book club!
Introduce your kids to some of the books you enjoyed when you were their age. Provide lots of unstructured free time dedicated to reading. Find interesting places to read, too – in a backyard tent, during a “book picnic” at the park, or even at the beach. Give kids their own mini flashlight and permission stay up late reading in bed.
Ice cream for dinner sometimes.
Let the pool or sprinkler substitute for a bath every now and then.
Children rejoice when given permission to skip their bath!
Get in the pool every now and then.
Of course, it’s not your favorite thing to do for a variety of reasons. But, truly, nothing makes kids happier in the summertime than when mom or dad joins them at the pool!
Host impromptu driveway parties.
Drag out the lawn chairs and outdoor toys, fill a cooler with drinks and/or popsicles and wave the neighbors on over. Bonus points for hot dogs or burgers for all and the baseball game playing on the radio – just like the summers of your childhood!
Building a schedule with unstructured time to connect will create a memorable and manageable summer for both you and your child.
Find more ideas for family fun at Maranda’s Guide to Summer Fun.
Jean Holthaus is a licensed social worker at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. She has a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Iowa.