A Word On Parenting

How Parents Can Stay In-tune with their Kids this Summer

By Brittany Berger

Summertime is in full bloom. Kids are out of school. Endless beach days are just beginning. Sleepovers and summer camps for the kids. Family reunions, camping trips, weddings, and summer getaways are upon us. But something changes in the summer: The long sunny days are active and full, and our routines and desires collide. We must still work, there is no vacation from vacation and that means very little time for parents to have to themselves. Parents lives get shuffled while kids enjoy the perks of summer break. Keeping up with summer chaos can leave parents feeling out of touch with their kids; especially when they are spending more time with friends and leisure than the routine family dinner. Here are five fun ways to stay in-tune with your kiddos this summer.

  1. Start a summer schedule with planned one on one time with your children. These are blackout dates! Use this time to do something fun planned with your kid that isn’t distracting and give space positive interactions together. Examples include tackling a hike, visiting a museum, taking a workshop or art class, or building something together. These types of activities invite opportunities for relationship growth and important conversations. 
  2. Do a family challenge over the summer! This is a fun way for everyone to pick a goal and stay on track. The challenge can be against the whole family or with teams, and goals can be individual or for everyone. With the loss of routines during summer madness this can be a rewarding family activity that lasts all summer.
  3. If you’re concerned about your teen getting bored and finding trouble over the summer keep them home by making home exciting and fun! One of my kids’ friends has a mandatory Saturday cook-out with games and activities every single week. The kids can invite as many friends as they want, parents can join, and community is built. I thought this was a great idea because it can be so hard to get to know my kids’ friends or their parents these days with so much social media and how much parents have to work. When I was a kid all the parents were friends and would BBQ together on the weekends, but this doesn’t seem to be as common anymore.
  4. Find household summer projects that need to be done that could use an extra set of hands. Projects such as painting, fixing the leaky sink, weeding the garden, cleaning the gutters, deep cleaning, or rearranging the furniture are great opportunities to teach kids some important life skills that they don’t learn in school. You can even go as far as including the kids in some budgeting discussions and asking for their ideas for bigger projects such as home remodels.
  5. Do some reading and listen to parenting podcasts for Queer families. There are so many good resources these days but when you are traveling you might have some much-needed time to catch up on encouraging content to boost your parenting game. A podcast favorite is The Queer Family Podcast. If you haven’t heard it before, then you are in for a treat. They feature hundreds of interviews with Queer families just like yours! Another good podcast for parents navigating LGBTQ children that I have found informative and wonderful is Just Breathe: Parenting Your LGBTQ Teen. Lastly, for Gay parents, I like the book Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like it isby Abigail Garner.

Summertime is a great time to celebrate accomplishments as a family and find ways to connect and grow. Don’t let the loss of routine and chaos prevent you from making memories and being present with your kids. Instead of sending kids away to multiple camps and allowing them to spend the whole summer with their friends because “they have a pool”, make sure your kids don’t get bored and have a reason to hang out at home. 

My kids are always welcome to have guests over. Two weeks into summer break and my house feels like a revolving door of kids and the mess and cooking that goes with it. However, it keeps me engaged in my kids’ lives outside the family. We have also been challenging ourselves to at least two-family bike rides a week. We recently introduced our kids to paddleboarding and now they want to go every day (at least they can help pump it up!). Enjoy these fleeting days with kids at home from school. You won’t regret it!