How will you connect?
Summer provides us with a lot more time with the children. As we discussed last week, when kids are out of school, there may be up to 81 hours of “free time” for our kids each week (and this already includes 1 hour of screen time.) Eighty-one hours allows us some real opportunities to connect with our kids (and ourselves) during the summer.
Of course, some families will have children enrolled in summer camps, for their enjoyment and/or for childcare purposes. Fortunately, other hours won’t be eaten up by homework – except for those families with kids doing summer school.
Over the past fifteen years, we’ve noticed that some parents feel guilty about putting their kids in too many camps over the summer, while others feel guilty about putting their kids in too few camps. Is there a magic number? No. Figure out what makes sense for your family’s budget and time and go with what works.
It is nice to think of summer hours having less structure. Our recommendation is that rather than moving from fully-structured time to no structure, we build a bit of structure into our summer schedule. This helps kids to feel like there is predictability which offers them more control so that they don’t have to “fight for power” throughout the day.
There is a tendency to want to “Let kids chill” during the long summer days or when they arrive home from camp. “Let kids chill” may well be the equivalent of “Let kids become zombies in front of a screen for the rest of the day.” This is not helping our kids’ brains, nor their creativity, nor their health.
Get clear on how much screen time/day is right for your kids this summer. Talk about it before hand. Make a plan and get it written down. If Friday nights are movie nights and you are sharing 2 hours in front of a screen, take that into account for the rest of Friday’s schedule. Help your child to learn how to set a timer and turn off the screen.
“When you chose to turn off the device when the timer tells you to, you are showing me that you can use it tomorrow. When you chose to ignore the timer, you’re choosing to miss out on screen time tomorrow and try again the next day.”
When planning family time, plan parent-child-connection time first. Will you play games together? Swim? Head to the park? Get on the bikes? When our kids were much younger, each of us planned daily family walks during the summer. The Smiths walked first thing in the morning while it was still cool. The Bells walked every afternoon before dinner.
Once connect-time is organized, then add in the other activities, which may include reading, playing outside, chores, independent play, and of course screen time.
This week, ask yourself these questions:
How do we want to use our family time this summer?
What time do I need for myself each day? How will my kids occupy themselves while I’m using that time?
Are there places that we want to visit as a family?
What are some of my favorite ways to spend time connecting with my kids?
How much daily screen time (and what kind) is right for my child(ren)?
A little bit of planning now, can help cut down on the frustrations and arguing that tend to work their way into our summer days. #ThereIsAlwaysTime
If you are curious about what strategies you can share with your kids, we are always here to answer your questions and give you real life parenting tools.