5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break with Your Kids
Everyone gets stoked for Summer Vacation to arrive! However, that joy can turn sour in a heartbeat when parent or kid expectations aren’t met or if you forget to install ducted air con. Kids seem to want a free range, carte blanche, “do anything I want when I want to” existence, while parents generally can’t hack that kind of mindset. Before those smiles turn upside down, and your summer gets away from you, use these 5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break. Start here, then adjust as you go!
The first of 5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break with your kids is to maintain a schedule while setting consistent limits.
No need to be a strict dictator here, but experts agree: kids do better when there’s some structure to their worlds. Tennis lessons is a good way of giving your children something to do during the summer as well as give them consistency, if you are interested in finding out more, check out what type of tennis lesson are you looking for? There are a few other games that allow your kids to be active and enjoyable, an example of this is something like Pickleball, a game that has the elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. With it’s growing popularity there are a few places online that can help get them started with the best pickleball paddles and instructions to start playing the game, teaching them a new game would be a great way to give your kids consistency. Consistency helps manage expectations for both kids and parents. Parenting expert Dr. Laura Markham writes on structure:
Research shows that kids get stressed during the school year from academics, homework, the social scene, and all the activities. They really need time to chill and relax. But they also need structure, meaning they need their day and week to have a shape — so they know what to expect. For instance, every morning after we play, we do errands or pick up the house together for an hour, and after lunch we have reading time and then quiet time. Every afternoon we run through the sprinkler or go to the pool.
With the abundance of screen-driven entertainment these days, “screen time” can be a parent’s “easy button.” Computers, smartphones, iPads, and game consoles abound. But research from The American Academy of Pediatrics, suggests eliminating screen time for children under 2 years old and advises limiting daily screen time to one to two hours for older kids. What to do? Setting consistent limits seems to be the consensus top tip, according to GreatKids family blog. Other top suggestions include:
- Use technology (DVR, apps, passwords) to monitor and control screen time
- Set a consistent family viewing time
- Keep media out of kids’ bedrooms
For a more comprehensive look, check out their 9 Secrets for Managing Your Kids’ Screen time by clicking here.
Technology can be an effective motivational and behavioral tool when used correctly. Empoweringparents.com outlines the guidelines for using technology as a consequence or reward.
Our second of 5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break is to get outside and take in some adventures with your kids!
Yes, get them playing in the back yard. Yes, take them to the local park. Yes, hit up those play dates. Yes, go on family vacation. But YES, YES, YES, open their eyes to a bigger world and bigger experiences. Summer is prime time to take them on a hike into the woods, to the top of a mountain, through a creek, over some sand dunes. Travel and explore a neighboring town. Travel as much as you can this summer. For some helpful tips on traveling with kids, check out our blog from last week.
Family travel expert Debbie Dubrow has been there and done that when it comes to family travel. She emphasizes the challenges, the solutions, and rewards of traveling with your kids in her blog Deliciousbaby.com. Read her article “Why Travel“ by clicking here.
One father gave his 3 & 4 year old daughters a “travel experience” of a lifetime and documented it here:
While that “travel experience” may be extreme for some, be pro-active in sharing big experiences with your kids, no matter how little they are!
Allistair Humphreys, one of National Geogrphic’s Adventurers of the year, has coined a new term: “microadventures.” While Alistair has walked across India, biked around the world, and rowed across the Atlantic, his most recent passion is to encourage microadventures among those who living within the 9 to 5 structure. Grand, months long adventures may be out of reach for the majority of us, but a weekend microadventure isn’t. Here’s a short piece he did on microadventures for CNN:
His new book is called Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes. His other adventure books are available on his website. It’s great to see someone with such a passion for the outdoors, nature, and getting lost in adventures of their own creation sit down, write, and subsequently find an audience for their literary works. I think anyone with a story to tell should be inspired by this and maybe even publish a book of their own. With the right amount of determination and creative talent, those with the will to see it through will hopefully find their books taking on an audience of people hooked to their every word.
Brett & Kate McKay run The Art of Manliness website, and after reading Alistair’s book on microadventures, decided to take an 8-week microadventure challenge – with their two young kids. Click here to read about their experiences. Their conclusion:
What turned out to be the most surprising thing about my 8-week microadventure challenge was how unchallenging it was! Breaking out of my routine and doing a tiny expedition each week required very little effort, time, or money at all; the barriers I had imagined to executing such outings turned out to exist only in my mind. That included a worry that Gus and Scout wouldn’t take to some of the activities, and I’d have a pair of whining kids on my hands. Instead, they loved getting out more and exploring, and I learned, as I seemingly have to again and again, that they’re more resilient than I sometimes think.
“I would say read! Read, read, read. In books there is a world of information just waiting to be discovered. The person who does not read has no advantage over the person who cannot read.” ~ Dear Abby
Aha! Parenting nails it:
Books open the imagination, make time disappear, and give kids a wholesome alternative to screens. (Reading is also highly correlated with school achievement.) Reading to your child develops a love of stories and books, which is what starts them wanting to read on their own. For more on helping your child learn to love reading, click here. For a starting list of great books to take to the library with your child, click here.
Coming in at 4 of our 5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break is Home and kid organization.
Staying active and creative will result in lots of loose ends. Here’s what to do with them.
Cords, cords, and more cords. Whether it’s your home entertainment center, or you have grandchildren or nieces and nephews visiting, managing cords can be a regular struggle.
- Start here: Separate Power from Everything Else. Route power cables in one direction and all of your audio and video cables going in another direction. It helps with cable management, but it also decreases the sheer bulk of cables. In addition, it simplifies your task if you need to swap something out or test a connection. Grab yourself a few sturdy, plug-rich surge protectors like the Belkin Pivot Plug. Separate out all of the things you need to be on all the time from the things that can be easily powered off. That way even if you have a device that prefers to stay on standby and never really powers off, you can save energy by flipping the switch on the surge protector.
- Label Everything – You might think that is common practice, but the fact is most people just don’t label the cables connected to their TV, receiver, consoles, and other gear. Grab a cheap, personal label maker and label both ends of your cables with the cable type and the device it’s connected to. That way you don’t even have to look at the connector, and you’ll always know which end to disconnect to pull out a cable you need to test or replace. Do the same with your power cables. No label maker? Grab some tape and a sharpie!
- Tie Down, Hide, and Organize Those Cables – Once you have the right cables, have your cables labeled, and have the right gear to make the most of your home entertainment center, the last step is to set it all back up as cleanly as possible. using binder clips, coiling and zip-tying slack when you need to. Velcro strips can all help conceal your cable clutter.
BOOK ORGANIZATION IDEAS
- Multi-Purpose Bookshelf: A shelf like the Oeuf Mini Library can hold books as well as toys. Its utilitarian form is easy on the eyes, too.
- A Wall bench and bookshelf automatically creates a cozy reading area and provides both a space to read and extra storage for books.
- Stacked cubes: A custom book area with plywood cubes created this set-up with differently sized boxes for differently sized books.
- Baskets: It can be as simple as finding a large basket or two to hold all of your child’s current favorite books.
The key to keeping a somewhat clean space with kids is to have a very clear organization for their toys and arts and crafts. When kids feel they can actually put away their belongings quickly, it can be a game.
As far as arts and crafts are concerned, here are some solutions that are simple to implement:
- Mom’s Crafty Space has an Upcycled Montessori-Styled Crayon Holder Tutorial. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also a good exercise for color sorting.
- I heart Organizing made an art caddy, using chalk paint, so it can be personalized by the kids to their taste.
- Cheeky Kitchen‘s pantry organization includes a shelf for arts and crafts, and a fun use of tin cans with simple labels.
- A Bowl Full of Lemons brings us the over-the-door shoe organizer as arts and crafts organizer.
- One Orange Giraffe designed a Portable Art Studio, including an essential craft bucket with pockets around it. Brilliant!
Check out @BetterHomes Storage Kit Ideas
Utensil caddies are a great size for far more than just utensils! The divided portions of the caddy are great for keeping markers, crayons and color pencils in their respective sections! Canning jars are perfect for odd shaped crafting items and can be tucked into the caddy along with scissors, paint, glue and wiggly eyes! The end result is something that can be tucked up on a shelf in a bedroom or pantry and can easily be snagged and carried to the kitchen table or floor to work on creative crafty projects!
Our last stop in our 5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break is to focus on fun!
Parenting experts agree that what kids most remember is the feeling they had from a period of time, not so much the detail of every event. If the summer structure they remember is that they had fun during self-directed play, but parent-initiated activities were mostly about chores like clean up, they’ll remember the summer as a bummer. Making the focus of parent-directed (or grandparents) summer activities intentionally fun, while keeping age-appropriate responsibilities part of your schedule, will keep you sane and your kids happy!
What other tips do you have to create a successful summer break with your kids? Share it by leaving a comment below!
Karen & The Cleaning Crew