Here are 10 tips to making the next three months fun and free of conflict!
8. My kids seem to have no down time and when they do, they constantly tell me they're bored!
Parents today spend less than seven minutes a day in face-to-face conversation with their kids…use the summer break to reconnect and rediscover one another. Create a reading time together, if they’re older, a journaling time. These quiet moments allow kids to focus and relax which gives their brain and body a break to expand and calm. Another great idea is to take a class or course together. Learn something new, or even better, take something that your child is good at and let them teach you! A cooking class would be fantastic if one of your agreements is to have each family member pick a day to plan meals and help prepare them.
9. I work from home and my kids are way too noisy! How can I occupy them without sticking them in front of the TV for hours?
A couple hours in a row is like an eternity to a small child. Because they are so active, I recommend parents set small goals for themselves (and share them with the child) such as: "Mommy is going to be on the phone, writing, working, for the next 60 minutes. When you have played quietly in this room for that long, then we will go swim in the pool as soon as this timer goes off." And make sure you follow through and reward yourself and your child for your accomplishment! But here's the trick: You must also be willing to follow through on your rules and agreements. Another great idea is to change your schedule to "summer hours" and block out time while the days are longer to give yourself extended hours in the morning and evening! Finally, you can make a color-coded family calendar. Give each family member a color and then have one for your work obligations and a color for the whole family. If you notice that more than 50 percent of your calendar is marked up with work, it's time to schedule some play time!
10. My kids eat like they are starving all summer long and I'm concerned about them getting too much junk which makes them more hyper.
For some reason, our children turn into garbage incinerators when they have all day to eat and they rarely make good diet choices. But here's the deal — they also don't shop for the food! I know that our special kiddos can have picky pallets, but oftentimes, it's more about picky desires than an allergy or sensitivity. So make sure your kitchen is full of healthy, colorful, tasty choices that are highly perishable (if it doesn't go bad, be cautious). Prepare them for easy grab-and-go use. Another tip is to have each person in the family pick a day of the week that they plan the meals. Helping in the kitchen is not only great together time — it's also highly educational and fun! Try hitting up local farmer's markets and farms instead of supermarkets, which typically don't have the great selection of fresh foods. Or plant a garden! Kids will eat what they grow and it gets them outside. Finally, establish "kitchen hours." This works! Eating small meals throughout the day is healthier and prevents gorging, so inspire your kids to plan by having open kitchen hours for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snack prep for fruit, veggies, water or whatever you choose when the kitchen is closed.
Summer time can be more than just "that time when you and your kids drive each other nuts" — it can actually be when we all let ourselves get a little bit crazy, in a fun way and enjoy the time we have by being our children's best teachers for life.