Too much togetherness is rarely a good thing, so set your kids up for success with realistic expectations for the summer. Follow these steps to build a plan that works for your family to ensure a happy summer—for everyone.
- Provide some structure. Going from scheduled school-time to no schedule can be a real challenge for many children. Without a schedule, they feel no sense of control and will therefore fight—for control over anything. As soon as there is some predictability for the day, the need to control everything seems to decrease. It can be as simple as reviewing when meals will happen, along with quiet time, errands that need to be run, etc.
- Expect that your kids will need a break from each other. Rather than waiting for a fight to break up their together-time, help them to plan when they will spend time apart. At the very least, teach them how to ask for it:
‘I need some time on my own,’ rather than, ‘I hate you! Get out of my face!’
- Help them to figure out sharing. If there is one toy/technology device/basketball hoop, how do they use it together? Kids (4 and up) are great at coming up with solutions to these kind of problems so ask them to help figure it out. Some ideas:
- Odd days one child chooses the game, even days the other chooses the game
- Taking turns
- Scheduling individual time on the device/toy
- Set clear boundaries. Set boundaries for what can and cannot be done, along with when and for how long. Provide limits and consequences ahead of time so that things feel fair.
Image of fighting brothers from Shutterstock.
Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching and teleconferences to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit www.parentingpower.ca
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Call me crazy, but when it’s raining outside, my first instinct is to find a nice warm spot indoors and, well, stay dry.
But I happen to live with three small people who believe quite the opposite is true. They like to remind me every time it rains that there’s no need to stay warm and dry indoors. Quite the contrary, in fact. The way my three kids see it, the wetter, the better.
And so, I’ve turned to them, seasoned experts in the art of playing in the rain, for suggestions on how to have fun and stay active outside on rainy days:
- Puddles. It’s all about the puddles. Jump in puddles, jump over puddles, jump around puddles. Kids might even like watching patterns in the water while their friends jump in puddles.
- Watch and follow water rivers as they run down the street.
- Splash each other.
- Make paper boats and sail them in a really big puddle.
- Catch raindrops with your umbrella.
- Catch raindrops on your tongue. Then try catching them on your hands. Or fingertips. Or toes. Or nose. (Kids won’t realize, but they’ll be developing their balance, overall body coordination, and sensory development.
- Play a favourite sport in the rain. (But don’t forget the rain will make things slippery and if they are hesitant to try here’s an excellent short film you can show them for a little inspiration.)
- Have a shower. If it’s raining hard enough and you have a safe, biodegradable soap, put on a swimsuit and wash your hair.
- Water plants. Carry the houseplants outside and let them get a breath of fresh air and a big delicious drink of rainwater.
- Go for a hike. Yes, this one means there’s definite adult involvement, but if you dress for the weather everything will be fine. I promise.
- Make mud pies.
- Play in the sandbox. It’ll be a whole new adventure with the rain coming down.
- Go to the playground. Of course, be careful around equipment that might be dangerous if slippery, but enjoy the novelty of being the only family in the park.
- Look for worms. My kids love to rescue them from the middle of the sidewalk while we’re out for a rainy walk.
- Dance. Put your favourite song in your pocket (to protect it from the rain, of course), listen to the beat of the raindrops, and dance your heart out. If Gene Kelly can do it, so can you.
- Try our animal activity and jump like a frog, fly like a robin, waddle like a duck.
- Take a family walk around the neighbourhood. If your kids are anything like mine, they probably love using umbrellas. This is the perfect opportunity for them to pop them open and have fun.
- If you’re feeling really adventurous, bring out the art supplies and see what happens when the rain inspires the creative process.
- Blow bubbles. There’s something really cool about watching them pop (or not) while the rain falls.
- Rain doesn’t mean everyone is stuck indoors. Some of the most fun my kids have is when they’re stomping through puddles, playing in the mud, and getting soaking wet on the rainiest of days. Which brings me to our family’s final tip: Dry off with the big pile of towels that your oh-so-well-prepared parents remembered to leave waiting for you at the front door.
Active for Life is a national initiative promoting physical literacy for kids. We teach parents about the importance of physical literacy, and we give them ideas, tips, and tricks to help them raise happy, healthy kids. Learn more at Active for Life