School is out and everyone is ready for a break! Summer may feel like the perfect time to drop all routines and let yourself and your kids relax. However, routines help keep us organized, happy, and healthy. While it is okay to relax the rules some during the summer, routines can help keep everyone’s expectations in line. Consider the following Top 5 strategies for keeping your children on a routine this summer:
- I recommend that children still have a relatively consistent wake up and bedtime, if they are still getting the same amount of sleep each night. It can be more relaxed than during the school year but varying much more than an hour each day of the week can start to lead to trouble.
- It also makes sense to have a set time in the morning whereby children and teens are expected to have changed into daytime clothes, eaten breakfast, and brushed their teeth and hair. If getting dressed does not happen until 3 PM, you might find that you feel the day has gotten away from you. The time can vary based on the age of your child (i.e., earlier for children and later for adolescents).
- It can be helpful to ensure that mealtimes are consistent so that busy kids do not forget to eat and end up cranky. Fueling our bodies is hugely important! Sometimes it is easy to forget to eat, especially when having a fun action-packed day. Know your own kids: not everyone requires snacks, but those can be crucial for kids who need something between meal times to stay alert and happy. No “hangry” kids, if we can help it!
- Taking care of our bodies in terms of food intake, sleep, and getting some outside exercise time are crucial to keeping summer fun instead of draining. But, to keep things interesting, you could try incorporating seasonal fun (i.e., pool/beach days, sprinkler time, themed crafts, etc.).
- Don’t skimp on alone and quiet time. Kids still need it, parents still need it. Options can include activities such as reading, drawing, crafts, writing, taking a walk in the back yard, and so much more!
The routines do not have to be as strict as during the school year, but letting go of all routines will make for a hectic household and some cranky family members! Introducing some summer structure is important for everyone.
~Carrie Chiasson, Psy.D.