Summer’s Here: A Parents’ Guide for Meeting the Challenge During the COVID-19 Pandemic
There’s a little extra chaos and commotion in many homes nowadays due to the uncertainty of this time. School is essentially out for the summer leaving parents scrambling around, wondering what to do with their kids. In fact, you may be reading this right now questioning how you are going to move forward to keep yourself and your family safe.
Then there are the kids: The tweens and teenagers who are cringing and upset at being stuck at home with parents who are now working at home or out of work. The younger kids might be climbing on all the furniture, needing attention all throughout the day, or maybe your wall has been freshly decorated by a new coat of paint named “Crayola.” A separate group of kids worry about their parents being out of work and what finances may look like for the household. Even for parents who love hanging with their kids, you can only take so much family time before you start to get stressed and maybe even agitated. Let’s face it, each of us is not equipped to play every role held by many members of a community.
You may be asking yourself at this very moment: “So how do I get through this? How do I help my kids through this? What can we do? Please help!” While things may not go 100% according to our plans as parents, there are still many different ways to manage such a long stretch of unstructured time for both you and your kids. A good formula includes taking cues from camps – make plans, schedule activities, a plan that everyone can get on board with. Here are some things to consider when you run your own at home summer camp:
Set a schedule – Make it fun by basing it off of a typical day at camp. Discuss shared goals and expectations with the kids – as our campers do with their bunkmates on the first night of camp – and let them be part of the decision making process of what happens and when. Routine provides a much-needed structure for some kids, which can help them feel comfortable and reduce anxiety, especially in times of social disruption. (Examples: Build a time in for snack time or picnic, have a sleepover in the backyard, create DIY Projects on a budget)
Make time for play – Start the day by going for a bike ride, doing some jumping jacks, or shooting some hoops to get the juices flowing. Schedule in times throughout the day for art, music, and even science experiments! Here are a few fun examples: Summer Bucket List. Tasks that can seem daunting like making lunch or dinner can actually be fun if you do it together. Create a menu with your kids that you can all cook together.
Let boredom happen – Unstructured play is an important component of childhood development, it is beneficial as it promotes problem-solving and creativity and builds tolerance. When the “I’m bored” talk begins, resist the urge to offer up solutions and let them figure it out.
Gamify your day – There are many ways to make the mundane elements of the day seem like a game. Make a 20 minute clean-up party part of your daily schedule, and offer mini prizes. Make a scavenger hunt list to locate missing items (that’s how we find all the lost socks behind the couch!). Get out all those old-fashioned board games. Watch TV or play a few video games together. This would also be a great time to watch old family videos.
Make time for yourself – There’s a chance this could be a marathon, not a sprint. Take time to prioritize your own mind + body well-being. (Even camp counselors get a day off once a week.) Make time for yourself each day, pause from your work to stretch or go for a walk every now and then, and give yourself a break if it doesn’t look “perfect”.
Change your scenery – Just like day trips at camp, a visit to the park, a hike with the dog, or other outdoor activities will help with that stir-crazy feeling you may already be experiencing. Just stay a safe distance from other people!