By Grace Kim-Lu, M.D. FAAP
Summer can be a great opportunity to connect with your kids differently from the rest of the year, especially if your children go to school. I realize that every family’s situation is different; full-time working parents, summer camps/schools, and travel schedules will affect how time is spent, but being intentional about creating some simple yet memorable moments for your children will last a lifetime and strengthen family bonds. Below are a few guidelines and ideas that may be helpful as you look forward to the summer months:
- Create structure. Kids need to have structure and to know what to expect. (E.g., “after breakfast run errands and have reading time after lunch.”) Spend a few minutes planning and going over the summer scheduled instead of trying to come up with things to do on a day-day basis.
- Set guidelines for video games and screen time!! Let kids know in advance of their time limits on the screen. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides an excellent tool to help parents manage age-appropriate screen time: HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan.
- Occasional boredom is good. It opens the door for kids to get creative. Find a safe environment. Kids will always find things to do to keep themselves occupied. Just make sure that they are not giving themselves a haircut or creating a masterpiece on the living room wall!
- Schedule daily physical activity. Participating in daily physical activity helps to establish healthy lifelong habits of physical fitness, as well as cultivating and maintaining healthy minds and emotional well-being. The following websites offer valuable insight for healthy living and the 5,2,1,0 Strategies. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/fitness/Pages/Physical-Activity-BetterHealth.aspx https://ihcw.aap.org/Pages/physicalactivity.aspx
- Read! Institute a daily reading time. Encourage your children as they expand their interests in books and love of stories. There is a strong correlation between reading and school achievement.
- Encourage your child to try new activities. E.g., learn how to throw a frisbee or ride a skateboard, write a story, try self-defense, pick up a musical instrument, practice cooking etc.
- Maybe make an age-appropriate list which your child can check off daily. E.g., putting laundry in the hamper or making his bed. This will teach your son or daughter responsibility and give him/her a sense of accomplishment and improve self-esteem.
Last minute tips: Don’t over-schedule. Keep it simple. Create memorable moments. Commit to destressing. Have fun and enjoy one another.