How to create a positive, structured, enjoyable summer for our families and children.
By: Kristin Carlson, External Marketing Specialist, Bonner General Health
We are coming out of one of the most uncertain and trying times most of us can remember. Our routines and schedules were abruptly altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving us to scramble to create new routines and structure for our children and ourselves. We are now hopeful this time is behind us and are able to think about summer break. It’s a daunting thought. Our kids have already been home for more than two months. While most of us were in survival mode during the pandemic, summer is an opportunity to refocus and regain some structure and positivity for our children during their summer days.
When schools turned to remote learning back in March, many parents I have spoken with admittedly (myself included) started out strong with routine, structure, and homeschooling. But as time went on and we realized the kids were not going back to school, we slacked off a bit on things like reasonable bedtimes, healthy eating, extra snacking, and limits on screen time. Don’t be hard on yourself, this situation was new and out of the ordinary. Looking ahead to the next three months, remember too much leniency leads to sleep deprivation from staying up past bedtime, the highs and lows of too much sugar or improper diet, and overstimulation from too much screen time. All of these things can lead to mood swings, headaches, anger, anxiety, and in some cases feeling depressed. Structure helps kids channel their energy into productive, engaging activities boosting their confidence, limiting learning loss, and encouraging healthy habits.
I talked with our Bonner General Health Psychologist, Dr. Joe Wassif about some ideas for keeping your kids’ happy & healthy (both physically and mentally) this summer:
*Please note: some of these options may not be available to due State and CDC guidelines.
- Keep mealtimes consistent and healthy.
- Keep bedtime, while it may be later, at about the same time each night.
- Encourage summer reading. Read with your little ones at bedtime and encourage your older kids to start a new book series. Give them incentives if needed.
- Make a weekly trip to the Library to participate in an activity or check out a book.
- Enroll them in a summer camp. Some even offer scholarships.
- Chores may trigger complaining or eye-rolling, but a small list of “to do’s” each day fosters ownership and responsibility.
- Promote healthy activities and encourage at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Most importantly, plan lots of social time for children of all age. They have been missing their friends and face to face interactions in general.
Keep in mind, a rigid, over-planned schedule can be just as stressful. Keep the structure, but allow for flexibility and lots of fun! And don’t forget to carve out some regular family time.
Enjoy our beautiful Sandpoint summer!
Sandpoint Living Local Article Submission – June 2020