What's Your Summer Parenting Style?

As a parent, my favorite part of summer is the laid-back routine. Our schedule tends to be too full during the school year so that by the time summer arrives, we’re all ready to have time to hang out more…

During the summer, our family eats more meals together, we go for walks, and we try to get away as a family and explore someplace new. Two years ago, we went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. Three years ago, we explored New York City, catching a Broadway show and visiting the spot where John Lennon was shot (our son’s idea). I have to admit, however, that I tend to have mixed feelings about summer. While I like the slower pace, I also find summer a bit more chaotic, given my kids’ ages. My eldest (who is home for the summer from college) has been used to being independent, so it took us a while to figure out how we would all interact again. My youngest, who is 14, is too young to get a job but has limited opportunities for summer activities. (Most summer activities are for kids age 12 and younger.)

Summer can also be chaotic for working parents. It can get to be too much of an impossible puzzle to figure out the ever-changing summer schedule with kids. I remember a previous summer when I couldn’t find enough camps and activities for both of my kids to cobble together a schedule that worked for all of us. By the end of that summer, I was ready for a relaxing vacation just for me—but without any time or money to take one. Still, I can’t imagine being a parent without having summers. I love having time to hang out with my kids and have the opportunity to do some things with them (like canoeing or going to an outdoor concert) that we usually wouldn’t get to do during other times of the year. Still, though, as summer comes to an end, I wish I could squeeze more of the summer I long for—the relaxed pace, the chance to listen to what my kids have to say while swinging in the hammock, and more chances to swim in a pool outside with my kids.

Do the summer months make parenting easier or harder for you?

Some trends I’ve read recently may help you with your summer parenting:

1. A key way that parents and kids can connect is by hanging out together during downtime. Summer can provide opportunities for these downtimes.
2. Kids who are overscheduled can suffer because they need time to play and relax.
3. To help kids grow up well, they need a balance of interesting activities and time to do the things they want to do. Summer can provide interesting activities that kids may not be able to find during other times during the year.

Sources: Ginsberg, Kenneth, M.D., “The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds,” Pediatrics, Volume 119, No. 1, January 2007, 182-191.
Ibid.
Ibid.
Blog Image via zetson Flick’r

Explore Further!

• Learn more about summer learning at www.parentfurther.com/summer-learning!
• Find out how to parent well during the summer from the American School Counselor Association at http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Positive_Parenting/.

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As summer nears the end, I’m left of a feeling of “where did the summer go?” We try really hard to take time off during the summer to enjoy the weather. Unfortunately, this summer has been a different story…we haven’t done much and I’m feeling really guilty about that. Work had taken precedent. Being a working Mom I have to remember that kids need time with their parents. Even if it’s just weekends bent over in the vegi garden or sitting down and reading books together.

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