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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

School's Out...Surviving Summer :-)

Some parents believe that June, July, and August are the longest months of the year. Kids are bored after just three days of freedom from school… teens want to be out doing something each and every night… and constantly someone is in the kitchen complaining there is nothing to do around here. So how can parents survive the hot, lazy days of summer and still maintain their sanity?

Here are some hints to keep your mental health intact:
1. Try to create some daily structure in your children's lives. Make a specific time for chores, television viewing, computer usage, and activities with friends. Sometimes it is helpful to have a family meeting and create a formal schedule for summer activities
2. Establish a time each day for reading. Join a summer reading program through the library, or set up a reward system for books read during the summer months. Each of us needs to keep our brain well exercised and skills quickly diminish when we don't keep our mind active.
3. Set a specific time each day to talk to your kids. Establish a consistent routine for discussion of the day's activities and plans for the following day. Use this time to explore feelings, and perhaps ask your child what was the “best part of their day.” Many parents have found it useful to ask their children what new thing they learned today in an effort to facilitate introspective thought.
4. Plan fun activities on a regular basis. Try summer camp, a weekly trip to the library or museum, or one of the unique summer programs that are available through Lakeview or the Park District.
5. If you have a teenager, check out classes that can be transferred as college credit. Look into volunteer opportunities, or a part time job. Some community agencies are looking for teens willing to help other teens. Call the Mental Health Association and ask about volunteering for the Teen Crisis Line, or call one of the local hospitals about volunteer opportunities.
6. Put together a list of fun activities that can be shared as family nights. Activities could include movies, miniature golf, baseball games, indoor football, concerts, the zoo, or riverfront activities.

Any other tips for parents and ways to "survive the summer?"

~Don't forget to make time for yourself. Make time for taking a walk on the Rock Island Trail, read a book, take a summer class, or just relax in your back yard.
~ Make plans to “have a date” with your significant other. Make sure you don't lose connection with your partner during the hectic summer months.
~Make time to be with your friends
~Remember if you are not taking care of yourself, it is impossible to care for anyone else!

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