June 2017 Magazines - Page 59

Mind, Body & Soul Saving Your Sanity A Smart Approach for Summer Scheduling F By Michelle Vessel OR KIDS CAUGHT UP IN THE CHAOS OF THE LAST DAYS OF the school year, the promise of summer vacation gleams brightly in their imagination, a wonderland of freedom and unfettered fun. But for parents, contemplating the vast expanse of unstructured days looming ahead can come with a sense of trepidation. While the first few weeks of summer can be a blissful reprieve from the drudgery of school-year rou- tine, it’s typically not too long before the first signs of trouble in paradise – sibling bickering, grumpy whining, and worst of all, the dreaded com- plaints of boredom – begin to rear their ugly heads. So what’s a parent staring down the long, lazy days of summer to do? Some tend to overcompensate by creating a summer schedule that closely mimics the school year, packed to the brim with camps, lessons, playdates and other structured activities. And while this Type-A approach is likely to pro- vide enriching experiences for kids and stave off boredom, some develop- mental experts say it can actually backfire by depriving them of the oppor- tunity to draw on their own resources and creativity in order to keep them- selves entertained. What’s more, in an era when school-day schedules are often crammed full of extracurricular activities from dawn to well past dusk, it can do a world of good for over-programmed kids (and parents, for that matter) to ratchet down the constant busyness a bit and reclaim some good, old-fashioned summertime leisure. It goes without saying that there’s no one-size-fits-all summer schedule to suit every family – variables like childcare, work schedules, travel, extracur- ricular commitments, and even kids’ personality types and unique needs will surely come into play. But the ultimate goal is to devise an approach that combines the best of both worlds – a fairly consistent daily routine (albeit one with lots of wiggle room), some structured activities, and unscheduled time during which kids are free to choose their own adven- ture. Here are some tips and ideas to guide the planning process. June/July 2017 59