Weathering Summer Boredom

Weathering Summer Boredom

Last month, I wrote about my pre-summer challenge of getting childcare and activities and camps set up for my kids. I’ve got it settled now and feeling better, but the reality of school being out is around the corner and I’m noticing a new stress for parents.

The fear of summer boredom. It’s a mix of relief, excitement and fear of endless time. Some parents tell me they are looking forward to the break but worried about what their kids are going to do. Others are already trying to create weekly playdates with other families to fill up the time. One even said, I can’t wait to do nothing, but (she paused, then whispered) I know after a week we’ll all be bored out of our minds.

During the summer, I cut my work hours and client load so that I can have this time with my kids. And I look forward to these unscheduled times for us. I love the possibility it holds for all of us. The art projects we can start, the cooking we can do. I even want my kids to get bored. Yet after a week of no structure it’s easy to start feeling a bit lost. Sometimes, I’ll feel like I have no anchor. This floating feeling is what summer creates. It’s a free floating span of time where there’s not the structure of the school year and it feels great at first but can create trouble here and there for parents and kids alike. This is especially true if you or your kid thrives on regularity.

In order to be able to limit my work and keep us from feeling lost I integrate a mini schedule into our lives during the summer. It’s not much and it still leaves big stretches of unscheduled time but it creates a rhythm. My kids know most day there are things we do each morning, things that happen before screen time, good times for the pool and good times for rest. Doing this over the last few years I have found that time can still feel open ended but without as many kid meltdowns.

I’m curious how this might help your family navigate summer with ease. Every family and all kids are different and need different kinds of structure, boundaries and support. These things depend on your kids temperaments, ages, abilities and your own work schedule if your working outside the home.

The things that have worked for me are:
First, to cut down on scheduled activities. For Ms. Fiesty- one activity is great, for Mr. Mellow- he needs an all out break from anything.

Second, having certain days of the week that we do full day outings (this works well because I can plan work around it) plus the kids know what’s happening on those days and we still get rest days at home.

Third, keeping a morning and evening routine- doesn’t matter if the morning routine happens at 8 or 10 (I have a preteen who is starting to sleep later and later) but keeping up those simple routines help the kids feel like they’ve started each day and then closed it out in the evening.

Fourth, freedom to choose activities but limits on the screens, especially during the day when playing outside is better for them.

All in all, this doesn’t have to be written down or fancy, but giving it thought now will help start the summer off smoothly.