Summer is upon us. The Pandemic is sort of resolved. More things are open than last summer. Summer camp is a possibility. A real family vacation becomes an option. Our kids are ready for a break! How do you manage creating the summer you and your children need after the last “Covid informed” 15 months? The answer is one word: Schedule. Create a schedule with your child that you can utilize the whole summer long which sets clear expectations, boundaries, rules, and ultimately allows for fun and rejuvenation.
Before we delve into the nuts and bolts of creating a schedule, we must pause to consider the impact of Covid. It is wonderful that some of us have been vaccinated. Refreshing to go back to in-person jobs and school. Things are improving. But it’s been a tough time. Studies show that the fallout of trauma oftentimes occurs once people feel safe. Check-in on your child’s mental health. Are they sleeping too much, having more outbursts then usual, withdrawn, secluded in their rooms, isolated from their friends, picking their skin or biting their nails? Be on the look out for any red-flags that their mental health may need professional attention. Seek out counseling if this is the case. Lastly, talk to your children about how the Pandemic has effected them. Reflect with them how their anxiety and fears increased, about what they lost by not attending in-person school, being in the school play, not seeing their grandparents and cousins. Validate their feelings and let them know you hear them.
Next move on to creating a schedule with your children. They must be a part of the process for it to be successful. Call a family meeting first, even if that isn’t typical for your family. Sit down and look at the whole summer. Then break it down weeks. Block out any family vacations, summer camps, and trips to visit relatives. Then create a list of activities your child must do every day. They contribute to this list. Things like chores, showers, cleaning their rooms, tutoring or summer-school work, physical activity, and meals. Don’t forget to include daily rest time, down time, or what have you. Then create a list of activities that your child would like to do this summer. Don’t be afraid to google activities to get ideas. Or share this whole Newsletter with them for creative planning. We will address the issue of screen-time in a later article. But it does need to be included on this schedule.
The powerful element of this schedule is that it will be visual. Depending on your child’s age, it should be posted in your home for all to see. The second crucial ingredient is that your child is responsible for following their schedule without your nagging. Easier said then done, I know. Talk to your child about how they want to be reminded to move through their day. Again, depending on their age, it can be a ding on their phone, a silent timer in your home, Alexa reminders, a quick prompt from you, a written laminated card that you give them, the sky is the limit. Remember that you want your child to feel and actually be in control of creating and following through with this schedule.
Here are some sample schedules you can copy and use. Be as creative as you want. Feel free to hand write the schedule or better yet encourage your kids to create it. Have fun. Happy Scheduling!