A Schedule...in the Summer?

by FS&TS

By Gina Czmowski, MOTR/L

Summer. School is out, lake season is in full swing, and the warm weather is upon us. While most Minnesotans anticipate this time of year, others dread the thought of their child having hours upon hours of unstructured ‘free time’ on his plate.

Despite summer being considered a laid back, carefree time of year, many families experience significant stress as negative behaviors begin to increase with too much ‘together time’.

This may largely be due to the fact that many children thrive on routine and clear expectations, which typically aren’t present once school is out. To reduce the stress that summer may bring to your home, consider the following recommendation

  1. Have a set wake-up time and bedtime: While it’s fun to stay up late and lounge around the next morning, this will lead to tired kids. And what do we know about tired kids? Tired kids have a difficult time regulating emotions. So to help avoid these emotional breakdowns, be consistent on wake-up and bedtime routines.
  2. Incorporate a mix of structured and unstructured time in your schedule: I’m sure we have all heard the saying, balance is the key to life. Balance in your summer schedule is just as important. While it isn’t necessary to have a minute-by-minute schedule, having a general structure both you and the kids know helps the day go more smoothly. Below is an example of a simple summer schedule.  

  • Wake-up, get dressed, eat breakfast
  • Play outside
  • Learning activity
  • Free play
  • Lunch
  • Quiet time/ nap
  • Snack
  • Free play
  • Screen time
  • Dinner    

3. Limit screen time: Screen time is both entertaining for kids and provides a ‘break’ for Mom and Dad. However, too much screen time is harmful for development and often leads to unnecessary arguments. Limit screen time to 30-60 minutes per day. This encourages the rest of the time to be spent engaging in imaginative play, learning activities, or being physically active.

4. Be active: Running, jumping, climbing, twirling...the list could go on and on. All of these movements are part of play and help children learn about their environment. Physical activity will also burn energy, tiring a child out, which helps Mom and Dad out when it comes to bedtime.