Ahh, summer. The days are long, the homework’s gone and kids everywhere are thinking — YES!
Parents? Not so much. Even if summer is packed with camp, enrichment classes or family travel there’s still a LOT of time, normally filled up by school, that mom and dad now need to schedule.
It’s stressful figuring out ways to entertain the kids, and for working moms there’s the extra worry of having to pay for more daycare or babysitting hours.
Dr. Meg Meeker, pediatrician and author of “The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers,” says we put too much pressure on ourselves to plan a great summer for our kids. Instead, embrace boredom. You don’t need to make sure your kids are happy all the time. “It’s healthy for kids to learn to deal with boredom and summer is a great time for that,” says Dr. Meeker.
“Use boredom for creativity,” says Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist. She advocates a weekly gadget-free day like “Tech-Free Tuesday.”
If camps and classes aren't in the budgets, Dr. Meeker suggests starting a co-op with friends to help watch kids and plan fun activities.
For teens and college kids who may be used to living their own lives and want to be left alone, the experts say don’t be afraid to give them a reality check.
"I have two in college, one about to go to college -- they come home and they're used to living their own life. It's awfully hard to reimpose structure when you have kids that age," TODAY's Meredith Vieira said
The rules don't have to go away, says Dr. Taylor. Teens need to know that you’ll be watching them and reinforcing the rules.
The good news: Summer’s a breather from the overscheduled school year. It’s an invitation for some time off from the constant shuttle between soccer/dance/hockey/gymnastics/religious school/tutor/basketball/piano … get the picture?
So head to the backyard, kick off your flip-flops and grab a glass of lemonade. Bonus points if you get the kids to make it for you.
How do you really feel? Are you secretly dreading summer vacation?
Julie Weingarden Dubin is a Michigan-based freelance journalist and author with three rocking kids, a loving husband and a trashed minivan. She covers health, psychology, parenting, relationships and pop culture.