Summertime is the perfect time to get your kids outside and away from technology.
I just had to utter the phrase, "Please don't make me be mean" to my kids today. One of the challenges with stepchildren is that they aren't here every day. In some ways it can be nice to have a break, but mostly we just miss them all the time. Your children in a blended family can vary and creating routine can be difficult.
Personally, I have a ten month old baby and a career to manage as well. So while I'm not in an office 40 hours per week, I am working to build a business of my own and manage the majority of the household tasks. Given the daily chaos, how can I also get the kids out and not leave them sitting in a vegetative state this summer? Here are some tips for engaging your kids in the great outdoors, even if you can't join them all the time.
- Get the biological parent on board. It can be doubly hard to be the step-parent and try to instill order and routine. Making sure you have the support of both parent and step-parent is very important. If you both have the same expectations, then success is more likely.
- Get moving yourself. Even with all the tasks I have today, I made sure to set a good example. Even though I wanted to veg in front of "Good Morning America" before scooting off to see clients, instead I got baby Cooper in the stroller and recruited Maddy to join us for a walk.
- Set up outdoor tasks for each kid. Sometimes they really are at a loss of something to do with the day. I'm a terrible gardener, but I've recently focused on an herb garden and three rose bushes as my learning tools. I'm teaching Maddy how to help me with the rose food. She likes being helpful and enjoys the positive feedback.
- Limit electronics. The IPad is under our control all the time, but smartphones aren't usually because they go back and forth between homes. When the kids are with you, it's OK for them to have rules that differ from the other home. I'm fine with taking things away from them if the time on electronics is being overused. This morning, I had to remove an Ipad and a Nintendo DS before the kids would go outside.
- Be OK with lack of enthusiasm. For some reason, we tell our kids to do stuff and then are surprised when they are less than excited to do it. Sometimes they won't want to. But you have to remember why you are insisting they do something and just keep plugging through. Same goes with reading time during the summer. Even if they don't want to, you know why you are insisting on it.
If you find that setting or sticking with structure is difficult for you. If you find that you're stuck on troubleshooting how to get things moving forward in a good direction, please reach out for help. The older and more independent your kids get, the more your strategy needs refining. A family and parenting coach can help you define a vision for your family and move away from being stuck. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to chase my kids out of the house again.