Parenting

Positive parenting: school is almost over: sun, sea and… misfortunes

Positive parenting: school is almost over: sun, sea and... misfortunes

THE FINAL preschool or school bell at the end of June brings a lot of excitement. Thoughts turn to late mornings, lazy days, and a general sense of freedom. Even the traffic calms down, which makes morning commutes much easier. For parents, however, summer vacation often comes with a logistical challenge: childcare. For working parents, that means figuring out who will look after their children over the summer, and for all parents, there’s the worry of how to fill their child’s free days. You still have 5 or 6 weeks to find out, so here are some tips that might help:
Summer Camps: Love ’em or hate ’em, summer camps have saved many parents’ sanity over the holidays. They are also a great way for children to meet new friends and have new experiences. If you’re choosing a camp for your child, try to make sure it matches their interests and knows at least one other person who goes there. For younger children in particular, prepare them for the fact that the structure is different from school – although camps are much more fun, the facilitators/animators don’t know your child particularly well.
Encourage your child to talk when he needs help or is feeling a little unsure about something. It’s about finding that delicate balance between doing new things and finding an appropriate comfort zone. You can help your child find this balance by explaining what to expect.
‘Care pooling’: Like what you do with a car but it involves few people! Now is the time to talk to your friends and family, to see if you can arrange schedules that will benefit everyone. You could have time off one week and take your friend’s kid and he can do it the next week. This way, your childcare problem is solved and your child has a playmate. It’s a fairly cost-neutral win-win.
Treats: We all do. Holidays are usually about relaxing the rules and throwing caution to the wind. When your child asks for an ice cream every day, know that school holidays last 8 weeks. That’s a lot of candy. Talk to your child ahead of time and set limits.
You can, for example, make homemade smoothie ice cream during the week and they can enjoy ice cream on the weekends. Going to the cinema is expensive, so you can invite some of their friends to watch a movie, while having a picnic on the ground. Anything different creates a sense of adventure for kids, so get creative with the treats. Your child’s health (and your bank balance) will thank you.
Moderation: As parents, we often fall into the trap of trying to sing and dance to occupy our children. Don’t forget that they also need downtime. A break from the preschool/school routine should give them enough time and space to just be, not always do something. Children are likely to be overworked, even when it comes to fun activities and outings. Again, it’s about finding a balance.

This article was written by a member of Parenting Limerick, a network of parenting and family support organisations. For more information on this and other topics, go to www.loveparenting.ie.

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