Take A Break

by Amy Alamar @Everton

As the summer approaches, most students anxiously await the end of the school year and the start of lazy days, fun with friends, and a break in the routine. But for children, as well as their parents, an abundance of free time can be a challenge and a successful summer break usually requires some planning.

It’s the yearly transition that students look forward to, and the lack of structure can be a shock to the system. There may even be some anxiety about the extended family time you’ll have together (too much of a good thing?). To make the most of the long summer days, here are some tips to help your families balance structure and relaxation so you can enjoy your time together and deepen your family bonds.

Prioritise family time: Prioritise what you want to do as a family and set the time aside for it. Be realistic with your plans and don’t over-schedule. Make sure your son has time with family, some down time, and some structure to his days.

Maintain a routine: Summer adds flexibility to your son’s schedule, and it’s important to have some structure so that he isn’t just sleeping the days away or sitting in front of the computer for hours on end. He doesn’t need to have every minute booked, and he should have plenty of down time to relax. It’s important to plan for outings with friends and family and make time for fun. And, if he currently has a bedtime or curfew, consider extending it a bit to help him enjoy the summer without sacrificing his sleep or your patience. 

Whistle while you work: Encourage your older son to find a summer job or some informal work experience several days a week. Keeping busy during the day will keep him focused and also allow him to explore something different from school and training. A job also helps him to continue developing his sense of responsibility and save a bit of money at the same time.

Keeping busy: You might consider a summer play scheme or organised play dates for your younger son where he can explore an interest or get involved in general activities. This is a great opportunity to dive into other interests while there is more time and less pressure without the responsibility of homework and training. Play dates and day trips are a terrific alternative to a holiday if you have the time and can pair up with another family.

Giving back: If the summer job doesn’t pan out, encourage your son to volunteer his time to a cause that is meaningful to him. This is a fantastic opportunity to make a difference in the community, feel good about himself, to explore new interests, and develop new skills.

Too much togetherness: Just because your son has more time on his hands doesn’t mean he has to spend all of it with the family. While it’s important to make the most of your family time during these longer days, it’s also important that your son develops his independent spirit and does not rely on you to schedule his day and decide what he will be doing. This is a time to explore other social relationships for your family and your son.

Moods are natural: Be mindful that your son will have his own moods and reactions to the shift in schedule. Sometimes younger children can exhibit regression during these changes. And older boys may be prone to short tempers. Try to be patient with them, listen, and give them space when you can. Don’t be afraid to enforce the rules with logical consequences.

Summer study? Really?!: It’s been reported that students lose a percentage of what they’ve learned when they leave the classroom for the summer. For most children, reading and reviewing some basics casually is enough to keep them up-to-speed with their academics. If your son struggles, summer can be a great time to help him catch up and prepare for next year. Be sure to see this as a long-term plan and work with his teachers before the end of the school year to prepare for the summer break, but please, factor in ample time for relaxation.

Share the attention: If you feel that your family is hyper-focused on your footballing son, summer might offer an opportunity for him to support his siblings or other family members or friends. Try to find opportunities for this growth and support.

This is such a busy time of year and it can often feel like if you don’t have your entire summer laid out in advance you’re already behind. Take a moment to breathe and enjoy each day. If possible, before summer break arrives, allow your son to be part of the planning and ask for his input when creating your schedule or considering possible holidays. He’ll have more interest in your outings and activities if he’s had a chance to weigh in. Keep some structure, but don’t feel compelled to fill all the time. Acknowledge that everyone needs a break and this is the perfect opportunity for your son to have one. Remember to enjoy the summer!