How to Calm the Chaos of Summer

11 Jun 2015

BY: DebraHartley

Education / Inspiration

by Debra Hartley

It’s here…summer. Kids are ecstatic, parents are panicked. How do you keep them occupied without either going broke or breaking down? And what on earth do you do when you’ve run out of ideas for activities?

First, if you missed the last blog about the importance of playtime by Carolinda “Trini” Myers-Murphy, catch up here! We highly encourage parents and kids to engage in “free play” where kids play by themselves, with siblings or friends, and explore the world and expand their imaginations. But, if you want to incorporate more play and activities in your summer, here are some other strategies.

Our kids and their parents are always teaching us, if we will just listen. Most of our kids, no matter what challenges they handle daily, have taught us that they thrive on routine. It’s a little easier to identify the necessity in our special needs kids, but all kids need some structure. So how can routine help us find that peace in the midst of a chaotic summer? Here are a few tips…

  • Do you remember the old adage of “Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday”? If there are certain activities that you want to do with your kids or tasks that need to be done, why not break it down? Whether it is “Beach on Monday, Art on Tuesday” or “Grocery shopping on Monday, Vacuuming on Tuesday” or a combination of the above, having a plan helps to keep everyone on a more even keel.
  • Within your plan and as you develop your plan, leave some room for flexibility in case something fun comes up. Your kids have friends who may not be able to schedule a play date on the day you have set aside for play dates.
  • Try to keep some of the same sleep structure during the summer that they have during the school year. This will help when it’s time to transition back to school, but it can also help mom to not have cranky kiddos who didn’t get enough sleep the night before.
  • If you’re struggling to come up with different activities, why not create a chart? At the top of a sheet of paper, list 5 – 7 categories. Underneath each, write 5 or more activities that fit in that category. You’ll have a month’s worth of activities figured out in half an hour! For example, since we live in Hawaii and have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, why not think of 5 or more of those beaches to visit? We all like our “favorite” beach, but this can help you explore your island home. In another category, think of 5 or more “art” activities that you could do as a family – creating their own chalkboard for their room, collaging their “dream summer” from magazine photos, or if they are old enough, find some cool furniture on Craig’s List that they can learn to paint (chalk paint and finishing wax is an easy, non-messy and non-toxic way to do this). The categories and ideas are endless, but organizing it helps us not hit a mental “blank”.
  • Gather together with other mom’s to plan activities as a group. This will offer you some “adult” conversation time while the kids run off that energy. Find a common interest among the kids and plan to gather every week or two to explore that interest together.
  • Create activity “totes” to keep supplies gathered and ready to go. An “art tote” with all of the general supplies together keeps you from having to chase around the house to find the right glue. Having a “beach tote” with the towels, sunblock, etc is all together and a “park tote” with various shelf stable snacks, toys, sunblock, etc ready, means you don’t have to worry about what’s been forgotten when you walk out the door.
  • Talk to your kids! Ask them what they would like to do this summer, besides, ahem, playing video games and lounging around the house. Are there places they’ve always wanted to explore, topics they’ve wanted to study, hobbies they want to start? Letting them plan with you is a great teachable moment on how the butterfly of an idea grows into fruition.
  • In keeping with talking to your kids, make sure you keep them informed of what is coming up. Kids handle change far more gracefully if they are warned and not taken by surprise. It’s not always practical, but when it is, it gives them a lot of comfort.

Don’t forget to stop over at our Pinterest board – Summertime with the Kids! We are always adding more ideas to the boards to provide some new inspiration for sensory activities with your kids. We wish you a wonderful, fun-filled summer!