It’s officially summer!! How do you deal with going from a structured schedule to unstructured during the summer months? How do you handle the “I’m bored” comments from your kids? And setting a standard for rest and good sleep schedules? Here are some of our Wise Insights into the transition for kids and teens from school to summer.
Amy Fortney Parks PhDR, LPC: In some families, kids have been out of school for over a month, and for others, it has been a mere few days! Regardless of how long (or short) your summer is, the transition from the structure of a 7:45 – 2:45 school day, with lunch at 10:00 AM – really, that is called BRUNCH, people, CRAZY-TOWN – to the lazy, pool-filled days of summer can be tough on all of us. We all need down time, and I am a big advocate for letting your family find a rhythm that works for you during the summer months.
Over the many years that I have worked with families, one insight that I have had regarding transitions is to take the time to “find the fences”. When schedules change, routines are interrupted or all heck breaks loose at your house, take the time to find the fences again – that means look around, and talk to one another, about expectations and ideas. What might sound fun and easy for you, may be totally anxiety producing for your sensitive teen. A trip to the pool may seem like just what has been missing from your cold, dry winter, but for your 8-year-old the idea of a loud, splashing pool may make her want to head to the snow-covered hills. So this summer, have some insight into what feels good for everyone – and how everyone is a little bit different – find the fences for your family. And don’t forget to Be WISE!
Lynlee Tanner Stapleton, PhD – Evaluator for The Wise Family: Sometimes I hear from parents eager to play “catch up” over the summer – to fit in that special reading course, to master that next level math skill, or even to get lots of extra violin or batting practice. While some kids with very specific needs must have extra summer support to just keep up, don’t forget about the value of taking a breath and a step back. Insights from developmental science consistently show the invaluable role that play and unstructured time with family and peers have on a host of skills and domains of well-being. So give your kids (and yourself!) a bit of a break, and you just might find everyone comes out ahead in the end!
Kasey Cain, Resident in counseling – Therapist for The Wise Family: As a parent, one of my least favorite things to hear is “I’m bored.” It evokes an angry or annoyed response because I know that I have provided toys and games galore for my children. They have everything they need (and then some) so why should they be bored? Luckily, through my studies and work as a school counselor and resident in counseling, I have gained some insight on the topic. British psychotherapist and essayist Adam Phillips wrote, “the capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child.” If we, as the adults, fill up all of our child’s time with activities and events we are actually doing them a disservice. They need to learn how to fill their own time either with self-selected activities or even just their thoughts. Being bored is really just a state of mind. This summer, let your kids practice the art of being bored.
Amanda Beyland, LCSW – Therapist for The Wise Family: Most of the kids I know have been looking forward to summer for months and it’s finally here but now what?! Summer is a big transition for both kids and parents that may seem overwhelming. While there is certainly love for the freedom summer gives, it can seem like a daunting task to plan each day. Here’s some insight– don’t worry about always keeping kids busy! Of course, it’s always fun to go on some adventures, take trips, and do things there just isn’t time for during the school year but it’s fine to have days with nothing planned. This allows kids time to do their own things whether it’s reading a book, playing outside with the neighbors, or simply coloring. You should always be prepared to be spontaneous but you can still stick to a routine – even if it needs to be revamped on some days. Most importantly, relax and have fun with your family!
Dominique Adkins, EdD – Therapist for The Wise Family: Summertime teens it is not too late to create your ideal summer. Here are four insights to help customize your summer experience.
– As tempting as it might be, avoid staying awake all night and sleeping the day away. Create a sleep routine that allows you to sleep in and not miss out on your summertime fun.
– Secondly, it can be hard to coordinate hanging out with friends because of travel plans or conflicting schedules. Don’t take it personal! Plan ahead and find ways to reconnect throughout the summer whether it is in person or by phone or by FaceTime or through letters.
– Explore part time summer job opportunities. It can be a rewarding experience that puts money in your pocket and looks good on your college resume!
– Finally, remember this time away from the pressures of school is valuable and essential to recharge for the next school year. Try not to over plan. Let summer takes its natural course. You will have busy and quiet days. The most important thing is to be mindful and enjoy each summertime moment!