With Summer around the corner and in some states just beginning, we have a new normal to negotiate. It feels as though the depth of the pandemic is behind us, and there is some room to breathe. We can resume some activities and return to some life without the fear last summer served us.
It still seems each family needs to take things at their own pace regarding safety and their comfort levels with the virus. Most families and children look forward to camps, outdoors, vacations, and a break from the school year that they quite literally survived.
As parents, we look to fix, solve and stress over our children. Are they going to be bored? What is their camp schedule like? Can I survive the summer with them around? It is so important to look at each child, how they cope with stress and boredom, and what you need to function as the best parent you can be.
If your child tends to be more sensitive and seems overactive or tired, maybe looking at a slow transition into summer. We need to be realistic that we all, our children included, just went through an unpredictable, stressful school year. Their cortisol levels may be high, they may be feeling more burnt more than usual, and they may not be able to handle the hustle and bustle of full-day camps or long days socializing. They may need time at home to rest, restore, drive you a little nuts.
Or perhaps your child is a social butterfly, and the most challenging part of the pandemic for them was not seeing their friends. Engage them in a conversation about what interests them and what they want to do. They may feel bored or triggered by staying home again, and they may need a break from you and have some time getting out of the house and experiencing the new normal.
It is so important that we talk to our children, structure them, and provide them with options and choices that bring them comfort. If you are exhausted and don’t want to drive all over for camps, don’t offer that as an option. If you are feeling isolated and want to have some time for yourself, look at camps that work with your schedule. Or maybe you need to work, need childcare, or you want to enjoy your last summer before offices transition back to in-person-do that.
The only way we structure and provide our children with what they need is to make sure we are getting what we need. Write out a summer calendar of what your weeks look like, for example, when you will be working, when you need childcare, or when the camps are going to occur. Use this schedule to help your children transition into the summer smoothly and keep your mind clear with the change in a routine again.
Usually, summer represents a break from the routine, sometimes being flexible, and letting go of the leash. This school year filled our children and us with stress, unpredictability, and higher levels of being overwhelmed than ever before. This transition is stronger than before, as we begin to lift our restrictions and return to what is hopefully a better, stronger normal.
Know that transitions are complex for everyone, but especially children. Talk to them about it, prepare them with visual tools, and stay positive.