So, you’ve spent the last year or so in quarantine with your kids and now we’re right in the middle of summer with weeks to go until your family gets back to a normal routine. How is everyone holding up? That’s a joke, of course, but the truth is we’ve heard from plenty of families for whom the last 18 months have been a struggle. There are so many reasons this pandemic has been difficult. The most obvious being the fear and anxiety around a disease that has taken millions of lives worldwide, but that’s not the end of the stress that has been put on families.
Staying home as much as we all have during the COVID quarantine changes the social structure of our families and the way we carry out our everyday lives. The great news is that as summer break is in full swing, much of the state of Florida has opened back up making your usual summertime activities available to you again. If you’re feeling off-track, don’t worry, you’re not alone! If you’re feeling pressured to make this summer extra-special since your kids have missed out on so much over the last year, don’t worry, you’re not alone!
Your kids are resilient, and you have all done your best to navigate a crazy year. So, in celebration of all that has gone right this year, here are some parenting tips that will help your whole family get the most out of the rest of the summer.
Make Plans But Don’t Overschedule
We understand this sounds like two opposing concepts, but the truth is, finding balance in this area will make a world of difference for your family now and into the future. The summer is a great time to enjoy all of the natural wonders that Florida has to offer, visit local museums and science centers, attend camps, and enjoy days at the pool. But it’s really common for all of those plans to get out of hand. Before you know it, you and your kids are all feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and in need of some downtime. Make plans for a couple of exciting excursions each week, and then leave plenty of downtime for kids to free-play outside, read books, and enjoy mindless fun.
Limit Access To Technology
Some of us were raised sitting in front of the television, so it may seem natural to allow your children lots of screen time. Cartoons, video games, social media, and other types of content are known to have impacts on our children’s developing brains. The time they spend staring at screens, decreases their attention spans, stifles their ability to self-regulate, and can even increase aggression. Turning off the television and asking your kids to put down their devices may feel like punishment to them, but when you think back at your childhood, do you remember the hours you spent in front of the television or the fun times you spent adventuring outdoors, playing games with your family, or using your imagination to create wild worlds? Give your kids a summer to remember by pulling them away from their screens and allowing them to create their fun.
Encourage Kids To Try Something New
Summer is the perfect time for your kids to learn how to do something new. Whether they’ve shown an interest in learning a new skill or taking lessons, the built-in downtime of summer vacation is the perfect backdrop for this. Without the interruption of school, soccer practice, and clubs, your daughter may begin to excel at karate. Perhaps your son will take new leaps in his piano lessons. Take some time to listen to your child’s interests and find a way to help them dig into it using all of the extra time on their hands.
Create A Family Goal
There’s nothing better than working toward a shared goal with the people you love the most. Shared goals strengthen the bonds within your family unit, and allow you to collaborate on a project that benefits the whole family. Some great examples of family goals are starting a flower and vegetable garden together, collecting and donating clothes and toys your children have grown out of, visiting all of the state parks in central Florida, or putting together a difficult jigsaw puzzle. Your family goal doesn’t need to be grand or complicated. It’s more important that it’s something that your whole family can get excited and motivated by. Set this as a conversation starter for your next meal, and you may be amazed at the things your children come up with.
Schedule Individual Time With Each Child
Finally, if possible, be intentional about scheduling time to spend with each of your children individually. Whether that looks like sitting with them for 30 minutes of playtime or taking them out on a date, research shows that the quantity of one-on-one time with your children is not as important as the quality of it. Meaning, if you can only sneak in 15 minutes with each child at a time, they still receive all of the emotional benefits as they would if you were one-on-one with them for hours.
We’ve all been through a lot over the last year and a half, but there is still time to make the most of the summer and enjoy quality family time. Having an amazing summer doesn’t have to cost money, it doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be busy. Your children are creative and resilient and with the right tools, your whole family will have a great summer. Follow along on our blog to learn more parenting tips, and contact us today to enroll your children at St. Barnabas Episcopal School.