When the days of summer are longer and the schedules are often looser, bedtime and other school year routines sometimes go out the window yet it is still important to keep routines. Routines and summer seem like an oxymoron, but children benefit from some structure, predictability and knowledge of what to expect.
Summer schedules on the road
Whether your child is sleeping in a tent, a hotel, a guest room, or in a fort this summer, routines can help everyone get settled each night because they are familiar and comforting. If your child is having difficulty adjusting to the new bed or environment, try to incorporate your routines in the new setting. For instance, pack your child’s favorite stories along or pick out new ones that have something to do with the different location.
Your family may also have different routines when traveling – perhaps everyone gathers around the campfire before turning in for the night during camping trips or an evening snack is enjoyed before calling it a night at grandma’s. Embrace those routines and share them with your child if she might not recall what usually happens. Explain to your child what to the day will look like in the morning and again when going to sleep.
Summer schedules at home
Summer schedules at home can change weekly depending on pre-school, summer camps, activities, sports and childcare. Be sure to share with your family what the big picture schedule will be each week: this is the week that the sitter comes, this is the week family visits, this is the week of art camp, this is the week of swim lessons…you get the idea. Prepare your child what to expect.
Explain the Ws
Explaining the Ws can help your child know what to expect, whether your summer involves staycations, vacations, visits to or from relatives or any change of schedule. Be sure to explain to you child:
- Who they will see. Will they see cousins, friends, mom’s college friends, dad’s high school buddies, or former neighbors? Be sure to explain how you know people, especially if they are people you don’t see frequently.
- What they will do. Will they be dancing, swimming, setting up a lemonade stand or hanging out at the pool?
- When they will be going or when someone be visiting. Will your child leave early in the morning, after nap, before dinner? Will visitors be arriving on Monday or after three sleeps or around lunchtime?
- Where they will go. Will they go to the zoo, to grandma’s, to the neighbor’s, to pre-school or to the park?
- How they will get there. Are they riding a bus, walking, getting a ride from someone, flying on a plane, or taking a train? Explain to your child any new modes of transportation like a first airplane or train ride.
Be sure to share embrace the lazy days of summer and the looser schedules and routines that it brings, but remember to communicate these different schedules and routines with your child.
Jann Fujimoto, MS CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and owner of SpeechWorks LLC, a provider of speech therapy in Pewaukee, Hartland, Dousman, Delafield, Watertown, Oconomowoc and Ixonia. SpeechWorks helps children become confident communicators and empowers parents to be advocates for their children.