Summer is supposed to be a break from stress, but for most families this is not the case. The end of the school year can be a major disruption to the rhythm of family life. Instead of relaxing, parents are stuck coordinating carpools, planning play dates, and searching for much-needed care. Many wonder if they will survive the summer mayhem. Stop worrying and start relaxing. There are many ways make the transition from school year to summer seamless. Follow these five steps to a stress-free summer.
Hire a babysitter or nanny. The key to avoiding stress is calling in some care reinforcements. Whether you work or are a stay-at-home parent, we all need extra help in the summer months. Figure out what works best for you. Hire a full-time nanny or simply schedule a babysitter a couple mornings a week. Having that extra person to shuttle the kids to art camp or keep an eye on them while you run to the grocery store makes a world of difference. Not sure where to begin searching for sitters? Ask a friend for a recommendation or post flyers at the public library – you could even contact local colleges to find students looking for a summer job. It may take a while to find the right person, but don’t be discouraged. Finding babysitters in Atlanta is much easier than if you live in the rural town of Avalon, Ga., so keep your location in mind. Once you find the care you need, your family’s schedule will be much more manageable. You might even be able to relax for a change.
Look into summer camp. Camp will not only occupy your children during the summer months, but it will also provide happy memories and lifelong friendships. Search for camps that cater to your child’s interests – whether that is theater, sports, science or art. Participation in a specialized camp could be an excellent way for your child to explore their talents and learn more about themselves. Discuss with your older children the option of sleep away camp. While not for everyone, this experience fosters important social development and builds character.
Find a tutor. All kids deserve a break from school in the summer months, but they should also stay on top of their academic skills. Find a local tutor to meet with your child once a week for a bit of mental exercise. The tutor can help her improve problem areas or give her a head start on next year’s material. Whether you are searching for tutors in Chicago or Boston, finding a tutor will likely be easier than you expect because most teachers and college students search for such employment in the summer months. Studying with a tutor will keep your child’s mind sharp, prepare her for upcoming academic challenges, and make her summer both productive and enjoyable.
Have fun for less. Avoid pricey entertainment when looking for summer fun. Give you kids a cultural experience and check out some museums, many of which have free admission or designated free days. Go to the local art museum with some paper and crayons and challenge the kids to create their own masterpiece. For help finding kid-friendly museums, check out MuseumsUSA where you can search your local area and learn about upcoming events. Nice day? Stop by a local farm to pick strawberries and pet the animals. Have a picnic in the local park – don’t forget to bring a Frisbee, a baseball or another outdoor activity. Also, never forget the public library. Besides the hours of reading fun you and your child can share, most libraries also offer story hour, arts and crafts and other educational activities.
Take a day trip. A low-key day trip can provide the rest and relaxation you need to survive the summer mayhem. Look into nearby destinations that are family-friendly, but not too touristy. A sleepy seaside town or scenic mountain trail could be the perfect place to spend some quality time together. Remember to take it slow. Be active – go hiking, explore the area, take in some sights – but do not try to pack in a million tourist attractions. Most importantly, enjoy your escape and cherish the moments of peace you and your family have together.