Day one of summer break. My son whines forelornly when he asks for “family movie night” on Wednesday at 9pm and I say “how about on Friday”. “But you always say we could not have movies on school nights, and I do not have school tomorrow” I have to review what summer break means, and remind him that yes, he is out of school, but Mom and Dad still have to work in the morning on weekdays.
Most of us, especially kids, look forward to taking life down a few notches once school lets out. And understandably so. It’s summertime! The weather is getting warmer ( I know it will soon, even here in Portland). The school year and all the hard work that is associated with it is over. It is time to wind down. But the last thing you want to do is go to one extreme or the other.
Don’t Lose the Family Structure and Routine
One extreme would be to throw all the structure and routine from the school year out the window. Forget the bedtime routine, forget the dinner time hour together, chuck the chores and anything else that interferes with summertime fun! While it is okay to loosen the structure a bit during the summer, children and families still need routine in their lives. The structure and routine provide order and predictability in the house, while giving children and teens the security and safety they need.
My suggestion would be to review the school year structure and routines, and tweak them to fit the summer schedule. Try to model the school year as closely as possible. Of course there will not be full homework routines, but perhaps you require your children to do some reading during the day. Bedtime doesn’t have to be the exact time, but the further away you get from school bedtimes, the harder it is to make the shift come August. Keep your children on a reasonable schedule. Plan some summertime routines that the family can count on. For example, ice cream on Sunday nights at 6:00 PM, a quick chore after dinner every night, reading before bed, and board game and make your own pizza on Friday nights. With the children home for the summer, it’s a good time to remind everyone of the family rules and consequences.
While it’s okay to lose the homework and the winter clothes this summer, you definitely don’t want to lose the structure and routine, the family fun, and the family memories. So we will sit down tonight and review our summer schedule, and summer expectations. I will invite him to have input into activities we plan, and help him to schedule them to fit within our family routine!
Enjoy your summer!