The Kids May Love This Time Of Year, But It Can Be Tough For Parents

Ahh, summertime – the living is supposed to be easy, right?

Well, summer vacation may be a kid’s favorite time of year, but it can make for a difficult transition for parents.

While the end of the school year may bring lots of new adventures for families, there are some aspects of it that really affect parents – and not always in a good way.

Gone are the rushed mornings of trying to get the kids dressed and fed and on the bus on time.  Or for homeschoolers, getting the whole family up and motivated to hit the books.

While some parents may welcome a three-month break from supervising homework and packing lunches, others lament the end of the school year.  And for good reason.

It is human nature to thrive on routine, and most of us don’t like change.  Routine is especially important for children, and summer vacation can throw a real monkey-wrench into the inner workings of the family.

Depending on your family’s circumstances, having the kids at home 24/7 can be hard to adjust to.

Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom who actually gets a few hours to catch up on housework or a hobby once your elementary schooler gets on the bus and the baby finally goes down for a nap.

You may be a homeschooling mom who has provided structured activities all year, balancing teaching and parenting and homemaking, and now you have to find a way to keep the kids engaged and entertained apart from the school day.

Or maybe, like three-quarters of moms, you work outside the home and – poof – gone is your child being supervised for the majority of the day.

The New York Times reported:

For the rest of us, the children are off, the parents are not. We can indulge our annual illusion of children filling joyful hours with sprinkler romps and robotics camp or we can admit the reality: Summer’s supposed freedom is expensive.  In 2014, parents reported planning to spend an average of $958 per child on summer expenses.

Summer vacation proves to bring major upheaval to families where both parents work outside the home.  Childcare is extremely expensive, summer camps even more so, and some parents find themselves with few options that end with a financial hit that is hard to recover from.

While we all love having quality time with our kids, summer is just not an easy time for parents.

After all, there are all sorts of jokes out there about how parents can’t wait to get the kids back to school.

And because routine is so important to all of us, it can make the whole family irritable.  It is difficult for everyone to adjust when we’re suddenly thrust together at all hours of the day.

So what is a parent who is faced with a drastic change in the family routine to do?

Keeping up your routine goes a long way toward preventing a family meltdown.  Even though school is out, families should still try to stick to a schedule similar to that of the school year.

Get the kids up at the usual time instead of allowing everyone to sleep in late.  Eat breakfast and get dressed when you usually would, and then make a game plan for the day.

Setting boundaries and expectations for both yourself and your kids is vital to a productive summer and will prevent conflict and stress that can be caused by such a drastic change in routine.

Omaha.com recommends:

Kiddos are more successful when they know what to expect. Continue to use your morning and bedtime routines…because this consistency will set kiddos up for success and help start and end the days on a positive note.

Depending on the age of your kids, discuss at your next family meeting what chores need to be done daily and how they can pitch in to help prevent boredom. Talk about a schedule for helping with meal planning, yard work and other things that need to be done around the house.

The kids are home all day, and they should participate in helping to keep the family running smoothly.  This is true whether you are home with them or work outside the home.

And healthy activity is important.  We know – it’s hard to suddenly have all the kids at home all day when you may have had a few welcome hours of your own during the school year, but as much as you’d love to set them in front of the TV or tablet to gain some peace and quiet, it will not benefit anyone in the long run.

For moms who work outside the home and have teens home during the day, they should be expected to help out by being given a list of chores, getting a summer job, or helping to watch the little ones.

They should also be given a clear set of rules about leaving the house.  Each morning, huddle together to discuss plans – who they will be with, including names and numbers of friends’ parents, and how and when to check in with you.

Sometimes, working moms receive welcome help from stay-at-home moms during the summer.  You may have a friend or neighbor to keep the kids while you’re at work.

But the same rules should apply – the kiddos should be given expectations about their behaviors and be willing to help out where they stay during the day.

Omaha.com continues:

These are all great ways for your kids to build trust with you and for you to show you care that they’re being safe and making good choices. Positively reinforce when you catch them meeting your expectations, and discuss ahead of time and follow through on consequences if they do not meet expectations.

Change almost always brings a sense of anxiety and stress, and whether you’re home all summer with the kids or worried about what to do with them when you work, planning, communication, and routine can go a long way.

Sure, there are drawbacks.  You may not get a nap while the baby sleeps and the older kids are at school or be able to go to the gym in the middle of the afternoon.  Or you may be faced with extra expenses and extra anxiety in worrying where the kids are going to spend the summer while you work.

You may even miss making those lunches and checking that homework.  But summertime can also be a time to take advantage of having the kids more readily available to spend some quality time.

Without worrying about their school schedule, homework, and all the extracurricular activities that go along with the school year, you may be have an easier time sneaking in a day trip to the beach or simply watching the older ones grow up before your eyes as they help keep their younger siblings entertained or help around the house.

Change is a non-negotiable part of life, and it’s how you handle it that matters.  So make the most of this summer by creating teachable moments and sharing a little quality time.

What are your tips for surviving the transition from the school year to summer vacation?  Leave us your thoughts.

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