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7 Tips for Structuring a Summer Both Parents and Kids Will Enjoy

Don’t register the kids for three sports, art lessons, and summer school.

Although the prospect of keeping the kids occupied for two months may seem daunting, there is no need to overcompensate by filling every minute of their day with activities. It’s hard to squeeze quality family time in between work, ballet, and science camp. Children look forward to vacations, but if their time off is more jam-packed than during the school year, they will not be happy campers. Everyone needs to take a break from routine sometimes. Fortunately, summer vacation is a built-in solution. With that said…


Do sign them up for something.

While you do not want to exhaust your children by running from activity to activity, neither do you want to watch them go stir crazy at home. Watching cartoons all day may be their idea of fun, but they can find more productive, meaningful ways to spend their time. Is Jimmy always doodling in his free time? Maybe he would enjoy an art class where his talent could burgeon. Is Angie passionately devoted to volleyball? Summer is the perfect time for her to attend a sports camp and hone her skills. Encourage your child’s passion, and include her in the process of choosing summer activities to make sure she is on board with your plans.


Don’t nag the kids to finish their summer homework the day after school lets out.

More and more schools are assigning summer homework these days, especially at the high school level. No matter how you feel about it, it must get done. It does not have to get done in the first free moment of summer, however. Let your children have a short break, and then encourage them to schedule time when they will work on the assignment. Allowing your children to take the initiative in the situation will help them develop life skills and practice time management.


Do get out of the house.

Even though you and your family may relish the days you can stay home without having anywhere you have to be, no one wants to be stuck at home all summer long. Besides, getting out to see new faces will decrease chances of families getting sick of each other’s faces. Whether it means bringing the kids along with you to the grocery store or planning a day at the zoo, allowing your children the opportunity to interact with other people over the summer will help everyone have a better time.


Don’t rush through all your planned activities the first month of vacation.
You’ve made your list of “Things to Do on Summer Vacation.” You feel refreshed and ready to take on the world. That doesn’t mean you need to rush through it at breakneck speed. If your kids keep getting distracted by new toys they find when cleaning their rooms, you don’t have to push them to get back to work right away. They have found a way to stave off summer boredom, and you can take advantage of the moment. Calendar things to do so they get done, but also allow time for spontaneity.


Do things you want to do.

While it is important to maximize your family’s summer potential by finding activities your children are interested in, it is also important to take time for you, especially if you are a stay-at-home parent. The things you want to do may be activities you can share with your children, or they may be plans just for you. Maybe you really want to finish scrapbooking your last vacation. Your children might be up for a day of arts and crafts—get them on board with the project. Other times, you may want to drop off the kids at grandma’s house while you and your spouse enjoy a movie night. Keeping your kids happy over the break will be easier if you are happy yourself.


Don’t let the summer slip away.
It can be easy to assume that two months will give you all the time you need and more. Nothing destroys this illusion more than the arrival of August. To make the most out of your summer, calendar your plans to see how much of your time they entail. You may discover that you are overbooking yourself, or you may stumble upon a free week for a family vacation. Whatever the case, you will be less likely to forget your goals or waste your time if you plan ahead.

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