Last May, we shared this post about kids and summer during a pandemic. At the time, we didn’t give any thought to what summer 2021 would look like. It is May again, and even though things are much different from 2020, we are again preparing for another unique summer.
The good news is that, with the progress made, there are more options for kids to connect with friends and family. At the same time, some of our favorite summer routines are bound to look different.
Here are a few things the parents on the Colorado Spirit Team at AllHealth Network are using this summer to recover from the stress the pandemic has brought to their lives.
Engage in social connections.
Regular positive social connections help us (kids and adults alike) deal with stress. Finding ways to keep our kids connected continues to be an important way we can provide support.
Talk about summer plans.
The reality is the pandemic is still a part of our lives, and we will still engage in practices that look different from previous summers. How can we as a family feel safe and comfortable and help those around us do the same?
Talk with your kids about this and, where possible, involve them in the decision process. Talking to kids ahead of time about mask-wearing, physical contact (e.g., hugs vs. fist bumps vs. physical distancing), and comfortable places/events can go a long way in reducing stress levels.
Listen and observe.
Kids are resilient, yet they might be feeling anxious about changes. This Rocky Mountain PBS article explains some of the challenges kids might have re-engaging in activities and being outside their “bubble,” and offers useful tips for parents.
After a year of changing how we do almost everything, going back to pre-COVID interactions might catch us off guard, even things we are really excited to do. Calling out and naming this discomfort or worry, having grace and compassion with our kids (and ourselves), and helping kids take small actions they can take to feel more comfortable and in control can help.
Create a schedule that encourages decisions.
No tip sheet for parents about the summer is complete without a gentle reminder that structure is helpful for kids (us adults too). We at the Colorado Spirit team would argue that routine is even more important this summer. Our kids are still dealing with huge amounts of uncertainty. Creating routines can counteract the strain uncertainty brings and build in some times for connection.
The trick is to find the sweet spot between being flexible and setting limits. Most kids do not need as much structure as they get during the school year, but they do well with some routine.
An example might be something like this routine that allows kids to do what they choose within a basic schedule:
- Wake up and dress
- Brain activity (read, craft, game)
- Quiet time
- Afternoon activity (outdoor play, screen time)
- Family time
- Bedtime routine
Lots of us have heard about how play helps children learn and develop (see 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play for a great overview).
What about the benefit of play for all of us? Play can help adults reduce stress levels, give us time to connect with our kiddos, and get us moving. Playfulness contributes to the well-being of adults and kids! Our most recent blog post offers tips and suggestions for play.
However you choose to spend your summer, we encourage you to find time to connect with your kiddos, keep talking, and have fun playing.
Please remember the Colorado Spirit Team at AllHealth Network is here for you! Whether it is talking to our child specialist about some ideas for summer or meeting with other parents in a support group, we have you covered! All our support is FREE.
See our complete calendar of events or reach out for an individual connection with a team member.
Connect with Colorado Spirit
- Call: (720) 707-6789
- Email: COSpirit@allhealthnetwork.org
- Webpage: www.allhealthnetwork.org/Colorado-Spirit
- Please follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AHNColoradoSpirit