Summer time is a welcomed change to the daily routine of the school year. However, with all the “downtime” the season brings many of us start to panic and wonder … “What are the kids going to do all summer?” I know we cringe and dread hearing, “I’m bored” and “what are we going to do now?”
So, we jump into high gear and look for things to keep them busy. As a working mom, I also know the reality of needing to have our kids supervised in some full/half day activity during working hours while striking a balance of enjoying and embracing the “downtime” and carefree nature of summer.
The beauty of summer is being able to indulge ourselves (and allowing our kids to do the same) in free time. Wow, what a concept right? FREE TIME! However, I’m curious … how much do our kids really know, understand and revel in “free time”? How often do we model, teach and “do” free time well in our homes?
We all need time to unwind and to let ourselves just “be” without feeling the pressure of time: having somewhere to run off to, filling up time with something, or perhaps even getting comfortable with our kids exploring the discomforts of “doing” nothing. Herein lies the gift of summer.
As we flex our mindful & conscious parenting muscles during this season, use these tips to encourage healthy, mindful and happy kids this summer:
1. Beat the Boredom: You know those family meetings I discuss in my course, “Stop Battling & Start Connecting”? Well, this is a great space to open the conversation on ideas that your kids can contribute creating for those “I’m bored” moments. Jot down the “good” ideas and keep them in a jar. Name that jar “I’m Bored” and keep it somewhere central to your home. When the itch of boredom needs scratching, remind the kids of the jar and have them pick out an idea.
Some ideas: make a card to mail for a grandparent, cousin, uncle or friend who moved; read a book that’s been sitting on your shelf; play cards; take a relaxing bath; clean your room; write or draw in a journal for 20min; breakout those legos; etc
2. Turn off Electronics: I know how easy it is for us and the kids to slip into marathons of TV watching, binge on electronic games or any other “go-to” tech toy of preference. However, this is a great time to assess your screen time policies. With so many more options of “things to do” for the summer, you can keep your current limits in place or even reduce daily screen-time to really adopt the meaning of “free time”/”down time.” As you keep the use/policy of electronics front and center in your home’s summer routine, you will undoubtedly create the conditions for their exploratory minds to invent, create and learn to just “be.”
Some ideas: Check out this Media Time calculator to see how many hours of screen time your child has left once they’ve fulfilled other important duties, responsibilities and recreational activities! Also, check out American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use.
3. Family Fun Ideas: Again, use those weekly Family Meetings to bring everyone together and get those creative juices flowing. Come up with ideas that both individuals and the family as a collective unit are interested in trying and doing for the week.
Some ideas: get back to some family favorites that haven’t happened in awhile, visit local places you’ve been wanting to check out but have put off, home projects that the family can take part in, personal projects that have been on the back burner, open a game that’s collected dust, make a family recipe together, try a science experiment at home, etc
To keep learning all kinds of ways to “Stop Battling & Start Connecting” with your kids all season long, check out the e-course.
To learn the beginning steps of how to apply mindfulness to your parenting, get your e-guide to the “6 Elements to Mindful & Conscious Parenting”
Enjoy all these tips and Happy Summer!