Easy Summer Parenting Tips For a Laid-Back Summer

Easy Summer Parenting Tips For a Laid-Back Summer

Easy Summer Parenting Tips For A Laid-Back Summer

Twin Cities Certified Parent Coach Jen Kiss provides summer parenting tips for surviving summer with your child

 

While summertime comes with a lot of fun, the lack of routine and structure can lead to some tough behaviors and transitions. So set yourself up for success with these easy summer parenting tips.

 

Make a plan

 

Most parenting fails are the result of having no plan, getting caught off guard and then reacting out of stress. You don’t have to be a perfect parent, but you don’t have to set yourself up for failure either.

For example, if you know you don’t want your child to be on the screen all summer, make sure you make a plan ahead of time. And if you are in the same household, make sure that both parents are on the same page.

Set your child up for success by talking to them about the expectations you have and the potential consequences ahead of time.

Also help them succeed by setting up their physical environment.

Setting up the physical environment means not leaving screens out if you do not want to give unlimited access. Developmentally, very few kids have the impulse control necessary to resist a screen that is out in the open.

It’s important you keep kids in the loop as you make plans. Because when you include them in creating the plan, they will more willingly take part in making the plan a reality. Your child can also help to troubleshoot problems along the way, which is a great life skill to foster.

 

Don’t overschedule

 

It is so tempting to try to cram a year’s worth of fun into summer. But just as important is the need to schedule in breaks and down time, for both you and your child.

This is especially true if you have a child who is neurodivergent, has anxiety or has trauma.

Make sure you are intentionally setting aside time for quiet play, reading, puzzles or family movie time. This allows kids, and you, to mentally take a breather and recharge. And it is this recharge that helps keep meltdowns and fights to a minimum.

 

Make self-care a priority

 

Summertime often brings big ideas and trips and expectations. All of which add stress to a parent’s already full plate. Regardless of whether or not you have grand plans for the summer, self-care is usually a low priority. But skipping self-care leads to shorter tempers and more frustration with your child. And your stress can lead to big behaviors in your child.

The solution is to make sure you are getting regular time just for you.

The best way to make self-care a priority is to schedule it in. That may mean you need to tag team with a partner, family member or babysitter so you can get your time in. Or it may mean you keep an earlier bedtime for your kids in the summertime. This gives you a consistent break from being a parent in the evenings. For older kids, this does not mean they have to be asleep. Instead they can have quiet reading time until actual sleeping time.

If you have a partner, make sure you are both getting your self-care in. This includes helping to protect each other’s recharging time. Think of it as being self-care buddies. You both support each other’s needs and keep each other accountable.

 

Make time for individualized attention

 

All kids, no matter their age, want their parent’s love and attention. True, it may look a lot different as they grow older, but the desire for connection is still there. To maintain or build connection, set up a schedule for spending time with each child.

For parents low on time, 5 minutes of connecting each day can make a huge difference in a child’s behavior. Running errands with just one of your kids can be a good way to squeeze in connection time. Make it interactive by having them act as the car DJ, plan the route or ask them them their opinion along the way.

If you can set aside a longer stretch of time, it can do wonders for your relationship.

Make sure you are following your child’s lead during their special time. Talk about what they want to talk about, play what they want to play or go where they want to go. If you are running errands during your connection time, let your child choose the order.

Individual attention can be especially helpful in minimizing sibling rivalry or jealousy.

 

Keep movement and nature a priority

 

Countless studies have shown the positive impact of both movement and nature on a child’s mental health and development. Ideally, at least 1 hour a day of active movement and/or time in nature is the goal.

If you can only do one thing this summer, let it be plenty of movement and outside time.

 

Keep realistic expectations

 

Summer brings excitement for parents and kids alike. Help set yourself up for success by keeping your own expectations in check.

Be honest with what your kids can and cannot handle. And try to anticipate when meltdowns might occur. Use this information as a way to determine what you take on in your summer planning.

There will be times when you need to bail early or you miss doing something altogether. And you get to be disappointed, just like your kids. But make sure you are modeling good ways to handle your disappointment. That means naming your disappointment, sadness or anger. Showing them how to cope with big feelings, either through breathing or physical movement. And then completing the cycle by showing acceptance. If you made some mistakes along the way, don’t sweat it, just repair.

If you have a neurodivergent child or a child that struggles with anxiety or trauma, know your plans will be different than other families’ plans. Your child will have less challenges if you stick to a schedule even when you are on break. It may be too overwhelming or overstimulating to do some activities. So summer life will be about finding a way to meet your needs, while honoring the needs of your child.

If something is important to you, plan for how you can still make it happen. That might mean doing or going to something for a shorter period of time. Or it may mean you incorporate your scheduled self-care time into the activity so at least you get to do it.

 

Final thoughts

 

Overall, remember to make realistic expectations and to set those expectations early in your summer planning. And if you need any parenting support during summer, reach out for a free 30-minute consultation, where we will dive right into solutions.

Here is to you having a laid-back summer with your children!

Self-Care for Busy Parents: 5 Ways to Feel Better When Life Gets Crazy

Self-Care for Busy Parents: 5 Ways to Feel Better When Life Gets Crazy

Self-Care for Busy Parents: 5 Ways to Feel Better When Life Gets Crazy

Self care is a critical part of child care

Here are 5 tips to practice self-care during busy times.

1. Readjust your expectations

It’s important to realize that sometimes things will not be able to happen the way you would like them to. And the disappointment, frustration and guilt that can come with unmet expectations can be really hard to process. Especially when children are also disappointed or sad.   But helping yourself readjust your expectations can do wonders for your mental health. Take a moment to feel your feelings. Then offer understanding to yourself that things are outside of your control. It is not a reflection on you as a parent or as a person.   And then come up with the next best thing that you know you can do. This will help take some of the pressure off of you and make you feel more successful when things do work out.

2. Take a breath

What we feel as parents often gets transferred to our children without either of us knowing it. When we as parents feel stressed, our children will be stressed as well. This can lead us to an unhealthy stress response cycle where kids and parents are feeding each other’s stress until there is a big explosion. Which usually ends in tears and us not feeling very good about our parenting.

So as hard as it can be and as guilty as you might feel, it is important to practice self-care during busy times. And I know what you are thinking, you don’t have time for that. But, think of it this way. Parents set the tone for their families. So if you want to have a smoother day, you need to set the tone of being calm and relaxed. And the only way to do that is to actually become calm and relaxed.

Which brings us back to self-care needing to be a priority. Schedule it in as though it is an important meeting, because it is. Start asking for more help and taking more time for yourself. Help yourself get into the habit. Tanks can’t run on empty so make sure you are meeting stressful times with a full tank.

3. Practice self-compassion

Emotions tend to become more intense when we are busy or stressed. It’s okay to feel sad, overwhelmed and upset. These are emotions people feel everyday, especially parents. And it is okay to feel these emotions even during times when we are ‘supposed’ to feel happy. There is no ‘right’ way to feel. But you can make sure you are processing your emotions in a healthy way for you and your family.   What can help you process tough emotions easier is practicing self-compassion. In short, self-compassion is treating yourself like you would a close friend. Realizing that you are dealing with something tough. Recognizing that others are also struggling like you. And that this is just one moment in time. And because it is a tough time, you deserve to meet yourself with kindness and understanding. As you would a friend.   Studies have shown that self-compassion can help increase oxytocin in your body. Oxytocin is the love hormone that can counteract increased blood pressure and cortisol, the stress hormone. So the more self-compassion you practice, the less stress you will feel. Plus self-compassion has the added benefit of helping you stay in the present moment. And it is the ability to stay in the present moment that can further help your mental well being.   It can be a hard skill for parents to learn, but the more we practice self-compassion the easier it becomes.

4. Get some exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress in your body and reset your stress response. Whether you like to run, lift weights, go for a walk, or something else, just get your body moving.   The reason exercise works so well is because it helps to complete the body’s stress cycle.   It’s easy to get stuck in a stress cycle when we experience prolonged stress. But when we exercise, it provides a natural signal to let our bodies know to stop the stress response.   When we can get our body to stop signaling a stress response it will reduce the levels of cortisol in our system. Less cortisol allows us to think more clearly, function better and sleep better. It also gives us more control over our emotional regulation, making it easier to keep our calm. Which is a win for parents and kids.

5. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the exercise of staying in the present moment. Some people may hear the word mindfulness and dismiss it because it feels too difficult. But anyone can learn to practice mindfulness, even kids.   And the easiest way to do that is to take a minute every day where you breath deeply and focus on your breath. For some, this will be easy, and in that case you can always increase the amount of time. But for some people just trying for a minute can feel challenging.   Most people who struggle with mindfulness think they need to keep their mind completely clear. But that’s not true. Mindfulness is about being in the moment and noticing things and then letting them go. So it is okay if you begin to think about something that takes you away from focusing on your breath. You simply acknowledge you got distracted, and then bring your attention back to your breath. Over time, your ability to focus on your breath and your ability to stay in the present will improve.   For beginners and for kids, I like to help them learn mindfulness through exercises that engage their senses. This helps them to not worry about staying focused while helping them to actually focus. A very popular mindfulness exercise for this is noticing 5 things you hear, 4 things you see, 3 things you feel, 2 things you smell and 1 thing you taste.   For those with visual or hearing impairments, doing 20 jumping jacks and then resting your hand on your heart and focusing on how your heart rate comes back to normal can be a good alternative.   Learning to practice mindfulness, like self-compassion can take time. But the benefits are worth it. You will notice you are more intentional in your actions and you are able to better process your emotions. This leads to better relationships and more enjoyment in daily life.