With today marking the summer solstice, most families with school-aged children now face a seasonal shift in daily routines, activities, and overall lifestyle. Even parents of infants or toddlers—despite not having a summer break from school—might find their typical routines changing with the warmer weather.
As much as kids love summer, moms and dads know that these sunny days bring a whole new set of concerns, from physical safety to mental stimulation to little idle hands. If you’re feeling summertime anxiety, take a look at these essential tips to survival:
Restock your home first aid kit. No one ever wants to need first aid supplies, but some children just have a talent for injuring themselves. And the more time they spend outside, the higher their chances of getting knee scrapes, splinters, or poison ivy. Better safe than sorry!
Brainstorm activity ideas ahead of time so you’re ready with suggestions for bored kids. Write a list you can point your kids to, or even make a Bored Jar they can pull ideas from.
Make any necessary updates or fixes on your home to keep it up to safety standards. For example, you might consider checking that your backyard playground equipment is properly secured.
Teach your kids about pool safety. Chances are, your child will spend at least one afternoon swimming during the summer—and they may or may not do it under your supervision. You’ll feel more at ease if you know that they have at least a basic understanding of pool safety guidelines: no running on slick surfaces, no grabbing other kids in the water, etc.
Research local pools and community centers you might visit to find out about their safety regulations and any other important information. You can check whether the rec center uses properly trained lifeguards or whether the public park nearby has a safe swing set. Knowing information like that will help you make informed decisions about where to spend time with the family.
Stock up on child-safe sunscreen and bug spray. You might even consider picking up a few bottles of each—one for the car, one for the house, and maybe one for a diaper bag or purse—so you are always prepared.
Connect with other parents or with friends and family members willing to babysit. Plan playdates and take turns watching the kids so that everybody gets a chance to spend some much-needed time alone.
Set up-front expectations about television and other screen time. If you don’t set concrete rules for screen time, you may find yourself saying, “Okay, one more show,” over and over until suddenly the whole summer has passed you by. Make a plan and keep the kids closely involved—you can even ask them for input so they feel like they’ve had some choice.
Try to maintain a healthy bedtime routine despite your kids’ pleadings to stay up late watching TV. Summer break doesn’t mean children suddenly need less sleep than usual. In fact, try to keep the summer routine consistent with the school-year routine. Children benefit from consistency!
Balance your calendar with an even distribution of big events (like the zoo or a water park) and quieter, more uneventful days when the whole family can relax at home. Of course you don’t want to spend all summer inside, but sometimes all you need is a lazy morning to unwind.
Most importantly, remember how you felt about summer when you were a kid, and try to make it just as special for your children.