After ending a school year cut short by a pandemic, summer break is starting for many. But, these next two months will likely not consist of the same types of vacations, summer camps, and other activities that you had initially planned on. If you’re a parent with school-aged kids, you may be wondering how you can keep your kids confident, socially connected, and busy with the ‘right’ things.
Take advantage of the opportunity to push the ‘reset’ button.
This summer can be an excellent time for you or your child to ‘press the reset button’ by evaluating your current circumstances and determining any goals that you may have for moving forward. While there may be some things about your life that you miss from before the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also important to consider any aspects that you may like better now. For example, parents and kids who previously had non-stop schedules may have begun to appreciate the additional downtime that the stay-at-home orders provided. Or, kids who had experienced bullying at school may like the reprieve from bullying that staying at home is providing.
After taking some time to pause and evaluate, you and your child can determine what activities are available to do this summer to help meet your short and long-term goals so that you’re happy now and in the future.
Establish routines, but also leave room for creativity and fun.
With the school year ending, Netflix and video games are becoming a primary source of escapism and entertainment. While there’s nothing wrong with these things in moderation, if we’re not careful, they can prevent us from some of the good routines that can help keep us healthy and happy.
Routines amid uncertainty are essential. Along with helping us stay healthy and happy, they can give us a sense of normality and purpose. Similar to habits, there are good routines and bad routines. It is important to establish good routines by recognizing your needs for staying well. If you’re a parent, you may need to help your child develop good routines. Having a color-coded chart on the wall with routines that you’d like your child to incorporate into their day can be a great way to help you and them keep track of the things that need to be done. Some examples of good daily routines for kids are:
- Waking up and going to bed by specific times
- Eating breakfast before going about the day’s activities
- Having a clear list of daily age-appropriate responsibilities or chores (i.e., emptying the dishwasher, taking the trash out, making the bed)
- Dedicating a part of the day to get physical exercise (taking a morning or evening walk, bike riding, swimming, etc.)
It’s important to remember that adults also need routines. Along with helping your kids establish good routines, make sure that you’ve created some for yourself.
While routines are important, so is making time for some creativity and fun. Part of your routines should be leaving room in your day for some downtime for resting or trying something different.
Use this time to try something new.
While summer camps and in-person classes may not be an option this season, there are plenty of online activities that can provide the opportunity for fun and trying something new. Now can be a great time to explore a new hobby! Here are some ideas:
- Art classes
- Music lessons
- Cooking classes
Stay socially connected.
We naturally seek the companionship of others, which can make social distancing extremely hard – for both kids and adults. It’s essential to stay connected to the people you’re used to seeing regularly. Both Zoom and Google’s Hangouts Meet offer free video conferencing services. Having consistent and scheduled calls can help give you something to look forward to and keep you connected with the people in your life. As social distancing needs and rules lessen, consider having your kids schedule physical, outdoor activities with others such as hiking, biking, or swimming.
Be compassionate to others, including yourself.
While everyone’s situation is different, we can all relate to the disturbances and uncertainties that COVID-19 has brought, including those that impact summer plans. There may be times when you or your child feels unhappy, and that’s ok—recognizing these emotions and talking through them can help these feelings pass. Also, as you navigate through this season, try not to criticize yourself or others. If you make a mistake, evaluate what may have worked and what went wrong. Mistakes can be beneficial. They allow us to learn and grow. It’s also important for kids to understand this too.
Whether or not this is you or your child’s ideal summer break, it’s important to remember that it won’t last forever. Eventually, the new school year will begin, hectic schedules will resume, and the pandemic will be over, which is why it’s crucial to make the most of this summer, even if it does look different from the ones that you’ve experienced in the past.
About the Author:
Danielle Matthew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who helps adolescents, adults, couples, and families who are in pain due to issues such as anxiety, severe stress, low self-esteem, or depression. With over 20 years of experience, Danielle authored Amazon Parenting Best-Seller, The Empowered Child: How to Help Your Child Cope, Communicate, and Conquer Bullying, and is the Director of The Empowerment Space Bullying Therapy Program in Los Angeles. Featured in Huffington Post and TODAY.com, Danielle has appeared on Fox, ABC, and CBS Morning Shows and Mom Talk Radio, and is the expert contributor to Washington Post’s article: “Kids love to ‘roast’ each other. But when does good-natured teasing become bullying?