The last few weeks of school can be a stressful time for kids, parents, and teachers. Here are our top five tips to make it through the last days of school and still be ready for an awesome summer.
Take advantage of the improving Spring weather and get outdoors. Any number of studies have shown the value of time spent outdoors. It is especially helpful as the kids start get a little stressed at the end of the school year. Beyond the obvious outside activities like playing, hiking, sports etc there are other ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Here are our five favorites: Walk or bike to school, read outside, family dinner at the park, change indoor chores to outside chores, and get ready for overnight camp with a sleepover in the backyard.
- Don’t overschedule. Easier said than done, right? But if you are feeling the stress of running from activity to activity, your kids will feel stress too. This can be a great family lesson in prioritizing. Is every end of year activity really necessary? Include the kids in the decision making. It’s OK to say “do you want to go to the end of season baseball party or the Open House at your summer day camp?” It is good for kids to learn to make tough choices. You can’t always get them to everything.
- Take an afternoon or evening to go over your summer plans. This can be overwhelming but it really doesn’t take long. Put down on the calendar things that are already set: Family vacations, visits to family, camps, etc. Make a list of the dates you need to fill in and go to work. How much time your kids can spend at home alone during summer vacation depends on various factors like age, where you live, your work schedule etc. But, for most parents, leaving kids home alone is the least attractive option. There is nothing wrong with it, you are not a bad parent for building in some days of freedom at home but with the wide variety of affordable camp options available, there are better ways to fill the time. Uncertainty about summer plans can add to everyone’s stress so having a planned out calendar will reduce uncertainty for everyone.
- Ask friends and colleagues for camp and program recommendations (and discounts.) The last month of school is when camps and summer programs are a hot topic. Ask for recommendations. Word of mouth is the very best way to choose a reliable program (or even a babysitter.) Many camps and summer programs offer referral discounts. Make sure you ask about these and any other discounts.
- Recognize that end of school year feelings are mixed for kids. We all remember looking forward to the long summer vacations but if we think a little harder we may also recall some sadness and fear that we may never see certain friends again. How about saying goodbye to that special coach or teacher? It’s not always easy, especially when it is the end of a significant grade level and the next year will mean a different school. Recognize that your kids will have mixed feelings and some sadness. It’s OK and gives you the opportunity to help them recognize all the fun they have had and all the opportunities to come. Many families rely on a particular camp to give kids that “old familiar feeling” every summer. This helps ease the stress of ending a year or perhaps being nervous about the next one. The stability of an annual camp experience evens out some of the emotional highs and lows involved in the end of the school year.
Photo by James Wheeler on Unsplash