Plan Now for a Stress Free Summer
By Dr. Loretta Brady
Summer vacation: no school, no schedules, sunscreen, rocket pops, and bug spray.
The reality is that most families don’t see summer as a wide open free time, but rather as something that has to be carefully arranged and choreographed since our schools still function as though we are farmers. So, as the semester winds down and summer looms, it’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about how to handle the time kids have off but parents don’t.
Loretta L.C. Brady, Ph.D., APA-CP, Professor of Psychology at Saint Anselm College, a Clinical Psychologist and parent has some ideas for parents and children:
Relieve Your Child’s Stress with Action: Transitions deserve to be honored and kids handle them differently. If your child is feeling sad about leaving a favorite teacher, have them write a thank you letter to the teacher for the work they did. Some teachers get a “lunch bunch”, kids from past years that they occasionally have lunch with the next academic year.
Friends can be missed too. If you can look ahead to your schedule and see some openings, planning a mini-class or friend play date part way through the summer can be fun. Such invitations often result in return invites so your child may get to stay connected even with the school break.
Plan Activities for the Summer: Check out the advertisers in the ‘Summer Planner’ section for a host of great things to do and places to go. Your community parks and rec department or other community action is also a good source for planning programs. Often there are special funds for kids and families of different age groups; some programs help families with supplemental food during the summer, while others help close the learning gap kids can sometimes face when they are not in school.
Try New Things: Take stock of what interests your children have that they haven’t had a chance to explore. Search for that and “summer camp” or “summer class” in the special section of this edition of Suburban Family Magazine and you might introduce something new and exciting for your child. Some programs offer scholarships for those who can’t afford full tuition, and those usually go to first come, first serve. Always ask, and look early.
Don’t sweat the downtime. Yes, reading and math are all-year skills, and it’s fine to have your children work on these during breaks, but it doesn’t have to be like school. Boredom leaves space for creative ideas so unstructured and unscheduled time can actually lead your child to locating interests that they do have. Offer times of the day when electronics are off and there is nothing planned. Maybe a clean closet will appear, or maybe that book that keeps getting ignored might actually get picked up.
Take a trip. Summer vacation is often a great time for exploring, and you don’t have to go on an overseas journey for memories to be made. Any spot in your community that you have always wondered about? Try camping in your living room, yard, or local forest preserve with designated camp sites. Take things that normally happen in summer (ice cream trucks, popsicles, bike rides) and ask your kids to build their summer “bucket list”. They will look forward to the simple pleasures of summer no matter how busy regular life might be. And, if you are lucky enough to have a major trip or other experience on the list they will see how big and little pleasures can add up to a lot of warm memories.
Saint Anselm College: Founded in 1889, Saint Anselm College is a four-year liberal arts college providing a 21st century education in the Catholic, Benedictine tradition. Located in southern New Hampshire near Boston and the seacoast, Saint Anselm is well known for its strong liberal arts and nursing programs as well as for the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. www.anselm.edu