Commentary: How to keep kids busy in the summer

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Commentary: How to keep kids busy in the summer

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Every summer there is a sense of panic for most parents that usually sounds like, “What am I going to do with my kids?!” Rather than thinking of summer as stressful, planning ahead can make summer an enjoyable time to connect as a family. The best advice I can give families is to have a plan! Before summer starts and your kids are repeatedly rambling off about being bored, create a plan. Sit down with your family and identify a list of things that are affordable to do in the summer that everyone is interested in doing. Use the list to help you plan out your family’s summer days.

Here are some additional tips to help you keep your children engaged, active and having fun all summer long.

Have a daily schedule
• Wake up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time every night. Children behave better when they know what to expect from each day.
• Eat meals at regular times.

Involve children in everyday tasks and offer rewards for completing the tasks
• Example: Have the children grocery-shop with you and, if they can be good helpers in the store, reward them with the option of buying an item of their choice (candy, fruit, etc.).
• Example: Children can earn more TV time in the afternoon if they help clean up their toys from earlier in the day.

Have relaxation/quiet time daily (for your own sanity and theirs too!)
• Example: for an hour in the afternoon, everyone reads a book of their choice, colors or watches a movie

Get out of the house
• Local libraries and parks are free!
• Take a walk every day to get some fresh air. You can also turn this into a game (count the different types of trees and flowers, see who can pick up the most sticks, build a fort out of items found in nature).

Allow children to choose their activities
• Have a list of parent-approved activities (going to the park, walking, coloring, TV time, reading, swimming, etc.).
• Give each of your children a chance every week to choose a family activity.

Lastly, enjoy this time with your family!
• Summer is a special time when we are able to reconnect with one another. Have some fun!

Elizabeth Snow, LCSW is a clinical supervisor for The Guidance Center’s Intensive Services Program at the Long Beach Clinic, where she helps clinicians guide children and families struggling with mental-health conditions or abuse toward positive and productive futures.