Kids home for too many days on end? Make those summer vacation days enjoyable for both of you and maintain a great attitude.
Based on advice from Pessy Deblinger
Sometimes, a parent’s feeling towards summer can be the opposite of their child’s. If your child thinks, “I never want it to end!,” a parent could think, “When will it end?…The kids are asking for so much money…When will school start?”
While this might not be true if your children are off in summer camp, it’s definitely relevant for anyone who has kids home for a whole or half a summer and those “in between” days between camp and school when kids need lots of activity and entertainment.
Rather than wait for the summer days to be over, make those days last.
You Set the Schedule.
If you don’t organize those “off days” in advance, chances are your kids will hang around you saying “I’m bored,” all day. Rather then let them run the schedule, you should set the schedule. Organize the day in advance, setting times for each activity. Don’t wait for kids to say, “What are we doing today?” You set the schedule ahead. If they first have to daven, do summer homework/learn, then do an art project, they’ll keep busy independently until 1 p.m. when you’ve schedule the outing for the day. It doesn’t matter if the outing is just an hour…today we’re biking…or today we’re going to the park…or today we’re having brunch then painting. That activity will help create structure for the day. Then, you’ll have the time that you need for yourself as well.
Make Summer into a Project.
Just like you would tackle any project, whether it’s making Pesach or planning a simcha, plan summer and be excited to carry out the plan. Be relaxed and have a good attitude. You have to put in that energy anyway, so you might as well smile. You want to plan all the things that you aren’t able to do during the school year, so they won’t need to search for these experiences during the year.
Plan Activities That You Enjoy.
This way, it will be more enjoyable for everyone and you too, and you’ll have a good attitude.
Expect the Unexpected.
Unexpected things can cause stress, but don’t treat them as emergencies unless they’re real emergencies. Whenever something unexpected happens that you think will ruin the day, think about your goal: Your goal isn’t to accomplish that activity. Your goal is to not ruin the day and keep it fun. Be open to changing course if the day doesn’t go as planned.
Keep Your Vacation Schedule in Mind.
Every house has a vacation schedule. The way you structure the day is the way your kids will always treat vacation days. If you let them sleep late, they’ll always want to sleep late. If you want to keep the same bedtime, they won’t associate vacation with later bedtimes. If you say they have to first daven before any outing, they’ll know that when they wake up on vacation days, they always daven first.
There’s No Place Like Home.
But in order for it to be fun to come home, you have to first leave the house. Outside, kids can release more energy. You can also feed them outdoors.
Keep Outings Short.
It’s much better to leave and let them come home wanting more, and with a good feeling, rather than coming home when everyone is overtired and kvetchy.
Do What Works for Your Family.
If you don’t like videos for your family, it doesn’t matter if the neighbors watch videos all vacation long.
Help Your Kids with Ideas.
“Ima, I’m bored…” On one hand, you’re not the entertainment. From the child’s perspective, they need ideas. So there needs to be a middle road. Help your child come up with ideas. Ask him, “Where do you want to be bored? In the park? With friends?” When he finds something to do on his own, reinforce it with compliments.
Create Great Memories.
Children form memories based on the words you use. It’s important to describe experiences positively. If there was a lot of traffic, you might say, “We drove slowly because there was so much traffic,” or you could rather say “There was a lot of traffic, but it wasn’t terrible because we got there in time.” You can also turn it into a positive. “We had extra time in the car so we got to listen to that new CD.” Describe the experiences with positive, exciting words. This creates enjoyment in the mind of the child. In the end, that’s what they’ll remember.
About Pessy Deblinger:
Pessy is young mother of 8 children under 10 (including multiples!) and runs a parenting hotline in Eretz Yisrael.