Summer vacation means lesson plans and school schedules are officially crossed off your to-do list. Every parent knows - any time your routine changes, things can get chaotic. Young children thrive with structure and structure can help parents feel good, too. Here’s how to make the most of summer vacation and your changing routines.
While all children benefit from having routines, structure and schedules can be especially helpful for children who struggle with mental illnesses like anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and those on the autism spectrum. This is because having a schedule helps them to know what’s coming next and can ease panic over transitions.
Your schedule doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to plan every minute of your day. Instead, try breaking the day up into morning, afternoon, and evening activities. For example:
Visual and audible cues can also help children who don’t cope well with transitions. Visual cues can be simple. Try creating a daily schedule that uses photos instead of words.
Audible cues can be as simple as telling your child when their next activity will take place. For example, you could say, “In five minutes, we are going to play outside.”
Think of schedules and routines as a way to help you and your child manage your day, rather than a strict guideline for what you should do.
Being in nature is good for both the body and mind. Many studies link spending time in nature to good mental health and well-being. Dedicate time each day for playing outside or going on walks as a family. Doing so can help you and your children better cope with stress while improving your physical health.
Playing games, making crafts, and even cooking a favorite recipe as a family can be an opportunity to practice reading or math skills. While school is no longer in session, there are still ways to promote learning as a family. Doing so can help your child feel prepared for the new school year and ease anxiety about heading back to the classroom.
If you’re stumped on how to begin, Osceola Reads is a free local resource with fun learning activities and reading games for children.
Summer is a great time to schedule your annual doctor visits. Check-in with your primary care physician and family therapist to make sure your family’s health is on track. This is also a time for parents to take care of their health as well.
Some things to keep in mind during your annual check-up:
Parents need to practice self-care in order to give their best to their families. Me-time and self-care can include things like:
Parenting is a tough job and a full-time gig. Self-care is not selfish. In fact, you do your best when you feel your best. Don’t underestimate the value of taking care of yourself.
If you’re looking for more mental health tips for kids and families, check out our Mental Health Resources for Parents.