By Nancy Walker, LCSW and LSF Program Team
If you have school-aged kids, I feel sure that as the end of the school year approaches, you know exactly how many days there are until summer vacation begins, looking forward to the days when your life isn’t run by a school schedule, where you can just have some downtime. And, I’m guessing that towards the end of summer vacation, you also know how many days remain until school starts again because you are now craving a semblance of a schedule as you have grown tired of the summer chaos. So how can we make the most of those precious days of summer vacation? Here are a few ideas.
- Start with a conversation with your family members about what summer looks like to them. What are they looking forward to? later bedtime? more time for video games? having friends over? going somewhere special? no rushing around in the morning?
- Brainstorm a list of ideas of possible things to do. Have everyone add some ideas to the list, adults and kids alike. If you have a loved one who lives with PTSD, be sure to take this into account. Consider what types of things may be triggers and always have a backup plan in case a particular situation proves to be challenging. Not everything has to cost money. Make sure to include some free things to the list such as free events at your local library, going to the neighborhood pool, taking your lunch or dinner to a local park for a picnic, riding bikes as a family, or maybe one of the kids gets to pick what’s for dinner. How about trying to include some ideas for things you could do for someone else whether it’s someone else in your home or someone in your neighborhood?
- Get a large calendar and map out your summer ideas. Post it in an area where everyone can see what is coming next. Who doesn’t love to have something to look forward to? This doesn’t mean that you will have something spectacular on the calendar every day. We aren’t going for a rigid schedule, just a basic idea of fun things coming up.
- Make sure that you have a discussion about expectations for things like chores or limited screen time up front. Clearly stated expectations can help lessen the arguments that would arise otherwise. You don’t just have a calendar full of chores, you have fun things on it too.
Most of all, enjoy these days, they are fleeting. My children are all adults now and it seems like it went by in a blur. In my job as a middle school counselor, students very often tell me they want more of their parents’ time and attention, but it may not seem that way when their faces are always in their devices. Kids are also very aware of how much time their parents are on their devices too. Schedule some device-free time and have fun doing something together as a family.
Lone Survivor Foundation leads veterans & their families on a path to healing from combat trauma. Learn more at https://lonesurvivorfoundation.org/service-members/