For some parents, the relaxing, warm days of summer are actually a more stressful time of year. If you work, you now have to find ways to keep your kids safe and entertained until you can take some time off. While it’s nice to let go of the school year’s early morning schedule and rushing to after school activities, a week or two into no structure and things sometimes start to unravel. The novelty of no commitments, sleeping in and all the freedom begins to wear off and the kids start to complain. “I’m bored” or “What are we doing today?” get old fast and by the beginning of August, you are counting down the days until the new school year begins.
So for parents across the country who are embarking on family vacations, staying at home to enjoy local beaches or lakes, or are trying to juggle work and camps, here are some practical parenting tips to keep in mind for reducing your stress and anger level:
1. Walk away. When you get to the point in which you can’t take another moment of your kids bickering, complaining or otherwise irritating behavior, take your mind off the situation by removing yourself from the scene. Take a short walk around the block, go for a run, or just leave the room before you react in an angry or bitter way.
2. Set limits. Initially it sounds fun to do away with the regular schedules and routines, but after a week of staying up late, your kids are bound to start coming undone. Maybe move bedtime to a ½ hour or hour later, but continue to enforce the boundary for everyone’s sanity. Remember you are the responsible adult and it’s okay to say “no” to your kids in a friendly, but firm way.
3. Choose your battles. Stop yourself from arguing every time someone disagrees with you or isn’t acting the way you would like. Avoid fighting over every little thing and save it for when it really matters. For example, your child’s room is a mess and he or she is playing video games. Instead of fighting about it day after day, close the door or start a reward system. If you are constantly nagging and yelling, they will start tuning you out.
4. Don’t overbook yourself and the family. You finally have free time with the kids and want to pack in all the fun things you couldn’t do during the school year. You also want them to go to sports clinics, and academic refresher classes. Remember this is their time to unwind too and if you get them up early to go a soccer camp and then on to a swim lesson and then on to a keyboarding class, although it’s all fun, exhaustion will settle in and the quality of summer life will start to debilitate.
5. Take control of things you can. If you work long hours during the fall, winter and spring months, ask your boss for some time off. If your spouse is home more during this time of year, ask him or her to pitch in more. This is the time to speak up to create as stress free of a summer as possible.