Summer (School’s Out!) Stress Disorder

Summer 2009 196

Is school out in your area?

It’s been out for over a week around here, and I’m noticing there’s a little extra stress happening in some households.  This seems to happen every year around this time when the predictability and structure of school that keeps kids occupied for a good chunk of the day comes to an end.  And while the last day of school can bring a huge sense of relief and excitement for some families, others might find themselves saying:


Of course, Summer Stress Disorder isn’t a real mental health diagnosis, but the freedom of summer can certainly be a real source of stress for some parents and kids, too.  To keep summer stress to the minimum, consider the following tips:

Talk about it.  Sitting down as a family and talking about schedules, plans and expectations for the next 3 months is a great idea.  Even if your kiddos are preschoolers, they can benefit too.  Older kids (even those home from college) can also benefit from understanding the rules and guidelines for summer (Is curfew the same? Are they expected to work? Do chores around the house?)

Have a plan.  I’m big on planning, and big on structure.  Not everyone shares my philosophy on running a home (which is completely fine, by the way – there are lots of good ways to raise kids!), but I do think having some basic plans for how days and weeks are organized are a good idea.  Will there be time set aside for reading or math practice? Rules around screen time? Participation in camps, volunteer activities, sports or classes?  Kids need downtime, but they need at least a bit of structured time too.

Have fun. Staycation – something popularized in the recession – is now a part of our vocabulary.  The great thing about it is that there are now TONS of websites and blogs dedicated to helping families plan outings near home.  Whether or not big trips are in your summer schedule, fun can be had close to home.  Encourage your kids to help you choose an activity and involve them in the planning process.

Take a break.  Family time is great, but so is alone time.  Don’t forget to schedule in a bit of time for yourself this summer.  3 months can feel like a reeeeaaaallllly long time when every moment is spent with kids.



Making Summer Simple

Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 11.28.11 AM

The “lazy days of summer” I referred to in my last post don’t seem to be coming around as quickly as I would have liked.  Instead, I am having some “crazy days of summer” – running around too fast, too far, and missing perfectly good summer days around here!  In thinking about how to slow down and capture those delicious, slow, long days of summertime I have been compiling a list of ideas.  Thoughts about how we can all slow down and enjoy this season:

  • Check email less often.  Maybe just once in the morning and once at night will do?
  • Instead of posting about your comings and goings on Facebook – get offline and actually experience them! Consider implementing media-free days for yourself
  • Go to the library and stock up on books: fiction, non-fiction, coffee table books, magazines.  Having lots of reading (and “looking”) material on hand might encourage you to actually sit down and relax!
  • Make eating easy.  Check out my post on healthy summer eating.  For some simple summertime recipes check out Produce for Kids.
  • Say no.  Showers, parties, open houses, and birthday celebrations can be fun – but they can eat up time like nobody’s business.  Be picky about how your spend your time and practice saying “no thank you” if need be.
  • Keep a list of fun activities handy.  I’ve known several families who keep a list of fun, relatively easy activities nearby so if they are ever at a loss of things to do, they can simply check their list.  Ideas might include: a local hike, a trip to the zoo, a picnic in the park, pizza at the pool (one of my faves), a midnight movie, and so on.
  • Do something new.  It’s so easy to get into ruts and routines so rigid that we never try new things.  Summer, with its zillions of activities, can be a wonderful time to try new things.  Pickleball, anyone?