ACROSS WEST MICHIGAN-- Summer vacation is right around the corner for many area students.
FOX 17 spoke with a full-time mother and full-time psychologist who broke down the top five ways mom and dad can actually enjoy the summer break too. Those tips include, but are not limited to:
- Planning ahead
- Not over scheduling
- Maintaining a sense of structure
- Getting away, taking a vacation
- Take some time for yourself
Summer break is hardly a vacation for Danielle Loughin, who works full time and is a full-time mother of two. Loughin says she often finds summertime to be stressful.
"You still have to get everything done inside of the house, as well as all of the activities that the [kids are] continuing to do throughout the summer," Loughin said. "I think we pile those on a little bit too much sometimes."
Between Loughin's 11-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, she stays busy. Her daughter is on a swim team that meets four times a week and her son is learning how to ride a bike. The busy mother says it's tough keeping up with summer sports, birthday parties and camps.
"I find that kids do better when things are organized, so not trying to stress out about it too much helps them to stay on track," Loughin said.
Pediatric Psycologist, Adelle Cadieux agrees. She says planning for summer is great, but over scheduling is not.
"We need to have a balance between having some structure in place...and some flexibility," Cadieux said. "If we have too much flexibility, where we don’t have anything planned and we're always playing it by ear, we're always going to feel the stress of, 'okay, what are we doing today and how are we going to make it work?"
Summer certainly can be a stressful time. Cadieux says kids often times need to be preoccupied and if they’re not, they're more likely to get into things that can get them into trouble or [do things] parents don’t want them to do. That's why she's reminding parents to not let everyday rules melt away with the heat.
"Having structure for sleep is a great idea to help reduce stress but another thing is we need to keep a good structure for our meals and snacks," Cadieux said."It really keeps stress down on a child, but it also reduces stress on the parents too."
Loughin suggests making plans ahead of time, running that schedule by your kids.
"A lot of kids might worry or wonder when they're not sure what's happening next," Cadieux said. "It can create tension in them."
Cadieux adds that it's good to get input from your kids because they like having a say in things too. It's something Loughin does weekly with her two kids.
"We already know what the week is going to look like ahead of time. During the weekends, we talk about it Friday nights when I pick them up, what the weekend is going to look like and all of the things we need to get done by Monday," Loughin said.
Try writing everything down on a calendar and posting it on the fridge. And make sure you save a few hours for yourself each week.
"It’s really important for parents to have time for themselves. When we think of parenting, parenting is a lot of work and it’s great joy in many ways, but it’s also very stressful, so we need to take care of ourselves."
Loughin's best advice: worry less about carpools and calendar's and enjoy the time with your kids.
"Enjoy the time you have with your kids while they’re out of school, when they’re a bit more relaxed," Loughin.
As for those of you who are planning vacations this summer, experts suggest including kids and your spouse in pre-vacation planning and activities. Making sure everyone is happy with the decision is important, as you want everyone to have fun.
Cadieux adds that you don't want to take a vacation that's too long because you don't want to be worn out by the end. Also, make sure your vacation has some down time and free time so your family can relax.
If you're having a hard time coming up with plans for the summer, below are a list of some websites that might help you out: