Summer is here and I could not be more excited! I love everything about it! The heat, the fruit, the pool, the kids out of school, evening walks, growing things in the garden, …and did I say the heat? :)
With the kids out of school there is no shortage of spare time, but for some kids that is not necessarily a good thing. Summers tend to be a bit of a challenge around our house. Without the consistency and structure that school provides, my son’s anxiety disorder tends to peak quickly. Over the past two summers this has actually become quite debilitating at times.
Providing at least some structure or predictability to an anxious child’s day and week can go a long way in helping to keep anxiety at a level they can cope with. My son’s OCD also tends to rear its ugly head when his anxiety is heightened so I really want to do all I can to allow him to enjoy summer as much as I do.
In an attempt to provide a more school-like structure to our summer I have created a couple of tools that we are using on a daily and weekly basis. Now let me clarify that I am not doing homeschool or anything like that. What I mean by school-like structure is creating a schedule of sorts that outlines the general flow of the day.
This is by no means set in stone, but it gives my kids an idea of how the day will play out. If something else comes up we may change things up or if one activity is really fun and runs long, we just go with it. The idea is that my kids can have a look at the calendar and see that the plan is go to for a bike ride tomorrow evening, or they can look to the end of the week and see that Friday afternoon we have an outing planned.
As you can see from my sample I have also scheduled a time called ‘chores’. For this I have created another chart (these are all posted on our fridge by the way) that outlines the specific chores the kids are required to do. This is a new thing for us so I have kept the expectation low to create lots of opportunity for success. They have been asked to complete 5 basic tasks like getting dressed and brushing their teeth. These are to be done without being asked by me as I am typically working either at the studio or at home during ‘chore’ time and can’t be yelling at them to brush their teeth. The other tasks on the chart are to be completed when asked by me or when scheduled. I have set it up so that if all tasks are completed they will receive $5 at the end of the week.
I just made these simple charts in word and I print them off each week for the fridge. I bought a huge roll of stickers from the dollar store and that is basically it.
You can see that I have left Saturday and Sunday blank on the weekly calendar and given free passes for some chores on the weekends as well. Again really trying to encourage the kids to get involved and to set them up to succeed.
We are just wrapping up our second week, and both my kids have had a great response to the system so far. My 8 year old daughter is loving it and even does some extra chores to earn bonus points! My 11 year old son is really doing well with it too although he does not appreciate our scheduled ‘learning’ time. He would literally game all day long if I let him… what is it with boys and gaming? “It’s summer, mom; I shouldn’t have to think” to quote him directly! J But honestly it’s about 15-20 minutes of math and language arts stuff, and once they get started they seem to actually seem to like it.
Introducing this little bit of structure has helped my son’s anxiety as he can see what is coming in the days and weeks to come. He seems more at ease this summer than he has is the last several summers. It has helped me promote some independence in my kids as well as helping me carve out some special activities and outings with them.