School’s Out (Almost)…Now What?

Posted On May 17, 2024— Written By
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School’s Out (Almost)…Now What?

Pretty soon school will be out and the kids will be home all day. Don’t let summer schedules, endless snacking, second breakfasts, lunches, cries of boredom, and messy rooms have you wishing the summer away. We only get 18 summers with our babies, let’s make the most of them!

This week is going to be all about preparing for the best summer yet! Each day we’ll give you tips and tricks to combat something that makes the summer a struggle. The key to being successful is keeping it simple. This isn’t about making all those immaculate Pinterest projects or living up to every Instagram influencer. This is about incorporating small habits that can make this summer just a little less stressful. Pick and choose the things that can work for you and leave the rest.

(Don’t) Plan-It Monday

The school year comes with packed schedules of sports, extra curricular activities, and ceremonies. Summertime is for open schedules and spontaneous adventures. Research shows scheduling leisure activities makes them feel more like work. Put on the calendar the things you signed up for and the must-dos but leave room for relaxation and spontaneity. 

  • Do write down:
    • Summer Camps
    • Paid for Vacations
    • Appointments
  • Don’t write down:
    • Beach days
    • Evening fishing plans
    • Afternoon cookouts
  • Here is a printable Summer Calendar to keep on your refrigerator. We’ve got just 10 weeks before school starts back up and those 10 weeks will go by in a blink of an eye. We don’t want to miss out on any big summer plans.
    • Tips: 
      • Have one special thing on the calendar each week for the kids to look forward to
      • Use different colors for different members of the family to keep appointments and camps straight
      • Let the kids be part of the planning process. Pick a day of the week that works best for your family and sit down together to go over the week ahead. Kids may not always know what something is but they like to know their schedule for the day as much as you and I. Reminding them that they have camp on Tuesday or will be spending the night at Grandmom’s on Thursday can make the week go a lot smoother. Let them mark each day off the calendar to help keep everyone on track.
    • Don’t forget about the 4-H Summer Camps you signed up for. Make sure to write down all the camps that you signed up for. Plug them into your phone calendar and tell your kids, they usually won’t let you forget.

Try-It Tuesday

Our kids have spent the last nine months with nearly every hour of their life structured. So now with all this free time it is inevitable you will hear the words “I’m bored” more times than you can count. Don’t let a screen become a babysitter. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, on average, children ages 8-12 in the United States spend 4-6 hours a day watching or using screens, and teens spend up to 9 hours. Too much screen time can lead to sleep problems, lower grades in school, and mood problems. 

  • Tips & Tricks:
    • Set parental controls on devices to limit screen time. This takes the work out of monitoring times.
    • Create a simple (or elaborate if that’s something you like to do) Boredom Buster List for your children to pick activities from when they say they’re bored.
    • Let them be bored. Boredom sparks creativity and productivity. A child who is bored may decide to clean their room without being asked or decide to build a fort to read in.

What’s Cooking Wednesday

  • Summer schedules often mean sleeping in late leading to late breakfasts, or skipping lunch and waiting until dinner because of the late breakfast. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, youth who regularly miss or skip meals, like breakfast or lunch, are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem. Don’t let the altered summer schedule change your child’s meal plan. 
    • Tips & Tricks:
      • First, every meal doesn’t have to be fancy and elaborate. Cut yourself a break. Make sure your child is getting something that will keep them full, feed their brain and their body, and your good.
      • Try to include fresh fruits and/or vegetables in every meal.
      •  If your child is a picky eater, browse through our list of recipes on how to sneak new foods into their meals. Always encourage them to try something new and let it be okay if they don’t like it.
      • Dairy is a great source of protein and calcium but it can also be high in fat. Keep your child’s dairy intake to a minimum and choose low-fat options when possible. You can also substitute some of their regular dairy intake with other options, such as 100% orange juice fortified with calcium to go with their bowl of cereal instead of the extra glass of milk served on the side. Almond, soy, and leafy greens are also good sources of calcium.
    • Recipes:

Get it Done Thursday

  • “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Our kids are out and now have loads of free time. That means they have plenty of time to help out at home more too. Studies show youth who participate in chores at home have a higher working memory and executive function than those who do not. Just because they are children does not mean they cannot contribute. 
    • Chore List
    • Tips and Rewards:
      • First, set up regular chores that are expected from your child. These might be things like making their bed, putting away their laundry, unloading the dishwasher. These chores may or may not have a reward, such as a weekly allowance. That is up to you and what works best for your family
      • Make sure chores are age appropriate. An 8-year old is not old enough to be responsible for walking the 80 lb german shepherd family pet but can load the dishwasher.
      • When asking a child to do chores beyond their normal list, reward them (this doesn’t have to be monetary). When you are asked to do tasks beyond your normal job responsibilities, you expect compensation in some form, same should go for your child. 
        • Reward Ideas:
          • A trip to the ice cream shop
          • 30 min of extra screen time
          • A friend playdate
          • A trip to the park
          • An afternoon of 1-on-1 time with you
          • An extra snack in their snack box
          • Watch a movie
          • Play a game of their choice

Snack Freely Friday

I think we can all agree snacking is what hits our wallets hardest in the summertime. That $300 grocery haul barely lasted 10 days and now the kids are complaining we’re out of food again. But how much are they snacking and what are they snacking on? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 American children are obese, putting them at risk for asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes and increased risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure. As parents, guardians, grandparents, and adult role models, it is up to us to set limits, provide healthy choices, teach nutrition, and be a good example for our young people. Making sure we are providing them with filling, fueling snacks and less sugar and junk may help your wallets and your sanity.

Tips & Tricks

  • Set a limit to how many snacks each child can have in a day. The easiest way to do this is creating a basket or box on the counter or in the fridge for each child. Refill the basket each day with their allotted snacks that they can grab at freely throughout the day. 
    • Things to include in the basket: something sweet, something salty, something fresh, one flavored drink of your choice
    • Another way to limit snacks is they can have one snack between each meal
  • Take some time to prepare healthy snacks. If they’re already arranged in grab and go portions, they’re much more likely to be used. But while buying the pre-portioned items can save time, it can be expensive. Buy the big bags, boxes, or uncut/unwashed fruits and veggies and package them yourself. Get your kids in on the fun. They’ll appreciate the snack more if they helped prepare it!
    • Wash and remove grapes from stems. You can put them in pre-portioned baggies or in large tupperware for easy snacking
    • Reduce cost by chopping your own carrot sticks and making ranch at home. Divide carrot sticks and ranch into pre-portioned containers for grab-n-go snacking
  • Only offer sugar-based snacks as rewards for hard work or completing a task and should only be offered once a day. If your child won’t eat something healthy such as grapes, granola bars, or carrot sticks for snack but would eat a Little Debbie, they are not hungry. They’re more likely bored. Get them doing something physically active from their chore chart or boredom jar before. They may decide it is not worth the task or if they do, they have burnt off the calories beforehand and have completed a chore in the process. Again, be sure to only offer this reward in moderation. It does not work if they still end up eating 5 junk food items in a day. 

Healthy Snack Ideas

  • Yogurt Parfait (favorite yogurt, favorite fruit, honey nut cheerios or granola)
  • Fresh Fruits and Veggies already prepared
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Applesauce
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Mio Drink Flavors for Water
  • Trail Mix (Cheerios, dried fruit, chocolate chips, nuts)
  • Animal/Graham Crackers
  • Homemade Popsicle Smoothies

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