Ask Dr. Joy: summer sanity

By WEEK Producer

May 22, 2013 Updated May 22, 2013 at 7:20 PM CDT

In this edition of Ask Dr. Joy we’re talking about how to survive the summer at home with the kids.

Some parents believe June, July and August are the longest months of the year. The kids are bored after just three days after school is out, teens want to be out doing something every night and someone is always in the kitchen complaining that there is nothing to do around here.

How can parents maintain sanity over the hot, lazy summer months? Well, they need to follow these simple hints to keeping mental health in tact.

1. Try to create some daily structure in your children's lives. Make a specific time for chores, television viewing, computer usage and activities with friends.
2. Establish a time each day for reading. Join a summer reading program through the library, or set up a reward system for books read during the summer months.
3. Set a specific time each day to talk to your kids. Establish a consistent routine for discussion of the day's activities and plans for the following day.
4. Plan fun activities on a regular basis. Try summer camp, a weekly trip to the library or museum, or one of the unique summer programs that are available through Lakeview or the Park District.
5. If you have a teenager, check out classes that can be transferred as college credit, look into volunteer opportunities, or a part time job.

How about some ideas related to keeping the family intact during the summer when everyone is usually going all different directions?

1. Put together a list of fun activities that can be shared as family nights. Activities could include movies, miniature golf, baseball games, indoor football, concerts, the zoo or riverfront activities.
2. A fun means of creating involvement is allowing each member of the family to have their own rotating week to be the planner of the family activity.
3. Keep a family calendar on the refrigerator and schedule family time and coordinate activities. Make sure that your days are not just filled with transporting kids every which way, with no time for yourself.

Any other tips for parents and ways to "survive the summer"?

1. Don't forget to make time for yourself. Make time for taking a walk on the Rock Island Trail, read a book, take a summer class, or just relax in your back yard.
2. Make plans to "have a date" with your significant other. Make sure you don't lose connection with your partner during the hectic summer months.
3. Make time to be with your friends. It is important that you have time to connect and enjoy with the people who are important to you.
4. Remember if you are not taking care of yourself, it is impossible to care for anyone else.

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