Can you identify with these recent observations shared by a group of moms?
Days seem longer.
More of the kids’ skin is showing.
Demands for new shorts, shirts, and swimsuits are loudly presented.
The word ‘homework’ elicits deep moans.
There exists in many homes this sense that something is coming…SOON…
Might it be:
A. one more snowstorm
B. a tax refund
D. the ice cream truck
You’re guessing C – summer? Is that your final answer??
CONGRATULATIONS!!! You win a change in routine for your entire family to “enjoy” until September!!!
SUMMER. This season evokes different images and feelings for each of us – parents and kids. Some of us look forward to the warmer weather and change in schedules. Others may wish we could skip right to September. Our culture tells us that summer “should” include combinations of the following:
But the daily reality of summer may look more like:
|moving||expenses||more of the usual|
Perhaps your picture of summer contains elements from both lists, plus others. As the summer approaches, how can we meet all of our desires for the summer, while at the same time cope with all of the realities? It may help, as a parent, to try to employ some of the following summer survival strategies.
- Plan shared time together as a family. Whether it is a weeklong family vacation or a weekend picnic at a nearby park, time away from the everyday stresses of home and work can be used as valuable time to unite your family. Feeling connected to something beyond themselves lets children know they belong. It is one of the conditions necessary for a child to develop a positive sense of self-esteem.
- Family meetings can provide opportunities for input from all family members when planning events. Children feel valued and included when we hear and give consideration to their desires. WARNING: Children often resist compromise! Acknowledge disappointment. If one child’s ideas tend to be vetoed consistently, work to incorporate at least some parts of his idea into the final plan. Then focus on the benefits of whatever decision is reached; this can help keep the process from becoming too chaotic or competitive.
- Recognize the need to play! Remember summers as a child when it seemed like all you did was play and swim and play some more? As adults, we forget that we can and should still play, especially with our children. The longer days of summer almost beg us to get outdoors and be together. Even if you are not the type to ride a bike or play ball with your children, challenge yourself to find a way to “let go” and “go play!” Resources and ideas are available in local bookstores, online, or better yet, from your kids!! WARNING: Play can become contagious!!
- Remember to laugh! Many times, we can lighten up a situation with humor when we are tempted to “lose it.” A positive sense of humor helps us to keep things in perspective and works as an antidote to the drudgery, feeling of endlessness, and conflict that can arise during the long days of summer. WARNING: A healthy family is one that is able to laugh with one another and not at one another. Become aware of the difference between fun and positive laughter verses ridicule or sarcasm that can be hurtful. Unless all parties find the joking to be funny, the comments may have crossed the line into the hurtful.
- Be alert for symptoms of stress in your family. As summer unfolds, observe behavior. Are family members feeling harried, short tempered, distracted, tense? Are your earlier expectations about summer not meshing with the day- to- day reality? Step back and ask yourself, “What’s happening here and how can we get ourselves under control?” WARNING: It can take time for some children and adults to adapt to a change in patterns or a lack of routine.
There is no one “right recipe” for summer. Despite what the culture or media may “decide” for us, each of us as parents and as a family need to figure out what works best for us. Whether your summer is highlighted with moments of togetherness, fun, and renewal, and/or dotted with moments of frustration, boredom, and stress, give yourself credit for your efforts toward making summer the best it can be for your family.by Pam Nicholson, MSW, Certified Parenting Educator
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