|Summer Fun and How to Keep it Fun!The school summer holidays are fast approaching and many parents wonder what they’re going to do with their children over the long summer! Planning activities to keep your kids fit, active, healthy and out of trouble for the summer can be challenging, especially if you are working full-time outside the home.
First things first, the summer holidays don’t need to be jam packed full of structured activities for your child, no matter what the age. It’s ok for them to just spend time with their friends and laze around and have fun. This can also take pressure off you as a parent both financially and emotionally. You don’t have to spend a fortune with summer camps and you don’t have to have them stuck under your feet for the whole summer. You can give them that bit of extra freedom to go explore their world (within reason).
What can the working parent do?
- If family/friends are available to help out, fantastic!
- If not, there are many different summer camps available, ranging from general fun activities to more specific programmes for the likes of sports/drama/music. It will take a bit of research on your behalf but it will be worth it as the options are almost unlimited and every budget is catered for. This is an option many parents go for.
- You can also plan with your child how they might spend the summer if they are old enough.
If you are staying at home with your child, what can you do?
- The summer is a fantastic time for stay at home parents to really bond and engage with their children without as much pressure.
- First things first, the summer should be fun. Many parents feel that their child needs to continue learning or trying out new activities throughout the summer but kids also need to unwind. They need to have lazy mornings or to be able to just play with friends on the street and get mucky and dirty. The school year is just as busy and long for them as it is for parents.
- Children love getting into make & do…you’ll love it too! Most homes will have lots of empty egg cartons or milk cartons, these are great for sticking and creating with your children. Try and put time aside every day to do fun activities with your kids where the tv is off, the phone is out of reach and they have your undivided attention.
- The summer is also a great time for friendships to develop. Look at encouraging your children to make friends with other kids. This is how they get to put those social skills you’ve taught them, into practise. They’re also going to learn about sharing/having disagreements/getting bumps and bruises, which are all really important for building communication skills and their ability to deal with conflict in a positive way.
- You will also need to decide how you’re going to deal with children around the house during the day! This can be quite a stressful time for parents, but remember you don’t have to be on duty 24/7, children are great at using their imagination, if it’s getting too much throw them out to the garden to play!
What about the preteens/teenagers?
- If your child isn’t old enough to get a job, give them opportunities to earn money at home. There are numerous jobs that can be done like babysitting siblings/neighbours/relatives, painting jobs, cleaning jobs etc. These not only will give your children hard earned cash, but will also teach them the value of work and give them a sense of achievement in terms of starting and finishing a job and doing it well.
- Get them involved in charity work/volunteering. In general our society has moved away from the strong community we once had. Fortunately, many people are realising that volunteering and helping out others is far more rewarding than a new car or new tv. The younger you can get your children involved in helping others, the more they will value the importance of it. It also shows them that they have the ability to make someone else happy and they have something to contribute, both of which can be lacking in many teens today.
- Plan activities together. You’ll be surprised how many times your preteen/teenager will say yes to a shopping trip, visiting a library, going on an adventure together. Even when they complain and moan about it, trust me, they’ll enjoy it more than they’ll let you know. There are so many outdoor activities centres around the country, take yourself out of your own comfort zone, there is huge learning for both you and your teen when you do this.
- Get them exercising. Being active is such an important part of being a preteen. Not only for the physical benefits but it will also keep their minds fresh. If they are involved in active clubs already, great, if not explore different options with them about what they could do.
- Read! The teen literature section of your local library/bookshop is now bursting with different series, let your child get lost in books.
- Remember you’re their most likely link to employment. Most teens get their first job through their parents whether it’s someone you know or a relative, explore these options with your child to see where they might gain some experience and employment. It’s much more difficult for teens to get a job nowadays without knowing someone or having a contact.
- Down time with friends is going to be really important to your preteen/teen. Together you can decide on what you think is an appropriate amount of time etc while still maintaining boundaries.
What about boundaries?
- Obviously there is a different routine in the summer and you can adapt your boundaries to suit this change. Later bedtimes, more flexible around spending time with friends can all put into practise. This not only shows your child that you trust them and that summer is a time to relax, but it also takes the pressure off you.
- Consequences still need to be put in place for when boundaries are broken but agree these at the start with your child but always remember that as the parent you have the veto over what the boundary/consequence is.
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