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The 'back to summer' routine causes stressJune 25, 2012 @ 6:55 pm (Updated: 10:05 am - 6/26/12 )
The school year just ended for families in the area who don't want to hear the words "back to school" for at least a month. For some parents and kids, however, the "back to summer" transition can be stressful too.
Who could possibly think going from structured school days to hours of play and freedom is difficult?
"You are borderline depressed," my mom friend Lisa tells me. "What is wrong with you? Loosen up and have some fun for a change."
"You are not alone," says Kat Eden with Education.com .
(Yes, I found an expert to support the way I was feeling, what of it?)
"Kids thrive on having a set routine and set expectations," she adds. "They resist it, but during summer months schedules are helpful."
When the school year is over, parents and kids can be left with a be- careful-what-you-wish-for feeling. They imagine summer free time is going to be better than it turns out to be.
"All school year we're worrying about how are we going to get homework done, and how are we going to get to all the sports practices and enrichment activities and how do we make the schedule work," Eden says.
"You go from that to having these long, full, open days. It's what you longed for all school year, but now the issue is how do you fill it in a way that keeps everyone sane and happy and not fighting with each other."
How did you, or do you, fill your kids' summer days?
Filling time was never an issue for me when I was younger because I grew up on a farm. The end of the school year for me was simply the beginning of more physical, sweaty, difficult work. Maybe that's why I don't enjoy lazy, do little, accomplish nothing summer days.
Eden and other education and parenting experts I talked with say there's no reason get be stressed about what the kids are doing every minute of the summer.
"Kids today are sort of spoon fed everything and that's unfortunate," Eden says. "Make kids responsible for at least part of their routine. Tell them, 'every afternoon from three to five you need to decide what game you're going to play or what you're going to do outside. There's going to be no screen time during those hours, and I'm not going to be filling your time.'"
Parents are unconsciously spoiling their kids by failing to make them do chores, not sticking to bedtimes and other school-year routines like required reading, and by smoothing out all their kids' frustrations.
When you hear the inevitable "I'm bored," don't rush in and find activities for your kids.
"I always tell my kids 'boring people get bored,'" says Eden. "Maybe I'll remind them of the 11 things that we have in our backyard that you could be doing or the closet full of games. More often I tell them, 'being bored is your problem, not mine.'"
By LINDA THOMAS
Related story: No cellphones at summer camp, acceptable or archaic?
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