Summer was officially here both on the calendar AND in our household as of Friday, June 21st when Michael and I finished school and work for the summer. 🙂 The last few days have been the usual. Michael and I planning out his first full week at home prior to summer camp, a choice I make to give us both a bit of a breather. This consists of structuring our days on my phone calendar and on a wall one. The wall one still has to be done, but we have our basis. After that, the next step is usually getting used to a new schedule of how our day will unfold. Due to the fact that in our neck of the woods Monday was the first long weekend of summer for us, Dad was home so planned out a family activity. All in all, things went well, with some minor hiccups as usual. This has always been the case as Michael adjusts to a new schedule and I find myself doing it along with him.
This time of year is always a little more stressful for us due to this change, but I have come to expect it, give him space as he gives me, and now things have gotten a lot better as a result. It’s not always perfect, and I find that reminding myself of the following tips helps me keep things in perspective a lot better for the long summer haul. Here they are for any other parents and children who struggle when the routine of school ends and a new one begins:
- Structure some of the unstructured and let the rest go: It’s important to have a plan to keep things moving but you know your child best. Leave some wiggle room in for unexpected things like weather changes, tiredness, or spontaneity. The last one is hard for many kids to handle, but is an important life skill to teach in certain circumstances as long as parents are up for it. Be prepared for higher anxiety and riding it out.
- Decide camp week and family vacation in advance and share with your child: Depending on how much they understand and how much time they need, share the camp and family vacation schedule in advance to help them ease into summer better .
- Don’t plan too many adventures when you are tired : I made the mistake one year of asking Dad to take the last week of June off for family vacation right after school ended. It was a more stressful week for all of us as Michael was only slowly getting into vacation mode and tired from school, and Dad and I had had a crazy June with work. Now, unless there is a good reason, our family does family vacation later in August so it’s something to look forward to. Every family is different, do what works for you!
- Be gentle with yourself if you are feeling down: Caregivers who are exhausted cannot get into the summer vibe until they rest. If you need to sleep more, eat more, rest more and be alone more, don’t worry. You are not losing your mind. You just need to replenish your energy. I only start to feel like myself after about four or five days into the summer vacation. That’s me and I’ve learned how to pace myself.
- Be honest with your family about your limits: I’ve also learned through trial and error to be honest with my family about how much “together” time I can handle, and when I need “me time.” This has saved many a couple and family fight. Know what makes you happy and helps you be a better partner and parent and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.
Exceptional Parents, what are your summer plans with your Exceptional Child? Whatever they are, just make sure to be true to who your child and you are. Don’t follow the crowd as tempting as it may be. It’s always good to get ideas from family and friends, as they probably do from you, but follow your own agenda. You know yourself and your child/dren best. Until next time.