Examining Expectations

From a counseling perspective, leisure activities have been proven to increase quality of life by decreasing stress, isolation, and depression. Exposure to new recreation activities can replace other negative coping skills such as drug use and self-harm. Kids who participate in summer programs often embrace new leisure skills that they can continue for the rest of their lives. Many children, some of who struggled to build friendships prior, return to school with new friends whom they have met over the summer through these programs.

From a mom perspective, I know that planning summer activities can be difficult due to finances, peer pressure of other kids attending a camp that you can’t afford or can’t get your child to because of your work schedule, or the lack of routine. It can be difficult to juggle everyone’s schedules when no two weeks are the same. Here are some tips that can be helpful when planning your summer activities.

  1. Get clear about what you want–what are your intentions for the summer. Does your family need a summer with lots of relaxation–lying on a hammock reading a favorite book? Do they need a summer with adventure–traveling to places you have always wanted to visit? Or it can be a mix of both. The more you set your intention and then plan, the more likely you are to fulfill your goals for your summer.

  2. Sit down with your child and write down a list of activities and topics that he/she likes or is interested in to help direct and guide your plans.

  3. Think about your priorities for your kids this summer. Do you need to stay close to home, save money, or attend away camps to build independence? What are the things that matter most to you and your child?

  4. Plot out your schedule week by week and block off all important dates. Now that you have an idea of your goals and interests you can start to plan more specific activities.

  5. Seek out summer camps and other enrichment activities that reach your goals. A good place to start is through your town or cities park and rec program. I believe most places have a summer activities book which lists many activities that are available for sign up. If the area you live in doesn’t have a park and rec department look in nearby cities.

  6. Make a list of places and things you’d like to do as a family. For example- day trips, vacations, playdates, pool passes, etc.

  7. Make decisions, and commit. Now that you have a list of all your activities, camps, and vacations, start putting them onto your schedule. Early registration is usually encouraged and many programs have discounts for this. Leave a few weeks flexible but just book the programs you love before space run out.

After completing this list review your activities. Is there balance? The most important rule in planning for the summer is to NOT OVERPLAN. Too much of a good thing can make summer activities more stressful than enjoyable. You want to create memorable moments as a family and have your kids create their own memories as well.

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