Mother Matters: strategies for a summer at home
By LOYLA LOUVIS
For Montclair Local
In “Mother Matters,” parenting and life coach Loyla Louvis, AACC, provides parenting tips. She is dedicated to eliminating frustration in the parenting journey by customizing solutions to fit the uniqueness of each family. A mother of four children, she is experienced with single parenting, remarriage, home education, mentoring and teaching. Louvis runs Mothers in Training LLC, and is a certified professional parenting consultant/coach. More info can be found at mothersintraining.org.
A gentle breeze accompanies warm rays of sunshine as the school year comes to a close. Excitement builds as winter clothes are packed away and plans for school graduation now take center stage. Children eagerly anticipate the summer months and wonder what adventures lie ahead.
For the busy mother whose to-do list is endless, little will change as the academic year concludes. The demands upon her time and energy are not regulated by seasons or the school calendar. Summer break may not hold the same level of excitement as it does for little ones. The mental creativity required to bring satisfaction to an expectant child may feel daunting for a weary mom!
Daycare and summer camp provide plenty of fun for the mom who has these options. But for the one whose child who will be home for the next couple of months, creating a summer plan may feel overwhelming.
The following suggestions will pave the way for a summer path of sanity:
- Establish sleep rhythms. Families with the same sleep rhythms wake up and go to bed at the same time. Common wake/sleep cycles keep everyone operating on the same schedule and foster unity in the home. Fun incentives will often cultivate enthusiastic cooperation. For example, a delicious hot breakfast cooked up fresh on a Saturday morning is a powerful motivator for a sleepy teen to get out of bed and join the family at the breakfast table. A captivating story read by Mom at night encourages bedtime stragglers to be more diligent about getting in bed when the family is ready to call it a night. Common sleep rhythms lead to a more family focused, fun loving environment where no one is left out due to different sleep patterns.
- Assign daily tasks. Daily tasks provide an element of structure. A child is less likely to wander about getting into mischief when the day has regularly scheduled activities. “It’s 3 o’clock, time to walk the dog. After that, you can watch TV!” illustrates how daily tasks provide structure amidst fun activities on a carefree summer day. Household tasks at regularly scheduled intervals act as checkpoints which build a team mentality. Planning daily tasks into a day of leisure also helps a child grasp the relationship between privileges and responsibilities. This summer practice helps a child come to the understanding that good things come to those who work hard.
- Include weekly rituals. Weekly rituals are an easy way to encourage the entire family to get together and share in fun moments. “Tomorrow is Friday, movie night! I can’t wait to hang out together!” is a great way to get everyone’s various schedules in sync. Weekly routine rituals create intimacy because everyone feels the same excitement at the same time and for the same reason. The bonding which occurs under these conditions is infectious and cultivates enthusiasm for the next scheduled event.
The hazy days of summer are the only ones in which parents have the freedom to customize an entire season’s schedule. The demands of school and extra-curricular commitments will quickly replace this open window of opportunity. Establishing sleep rhythms, daily tasks, and weekly rituals set the stage for a balance of structure and freedom and provide a smoother transition back to school in the fall.