Most of us, from young children to senior citizens, look forward to the opportunities of summer. While we may complain some days about the heat and humidity, the warmer weather and slower pace offers a chance to relax, to take advantage of more outdoor activities and perhaps to even enjoy a well-earned vacation.
But sometimes the temptation is just to sit back and let summer happen. This might sound tempting but it often means time suddenly flies by, the kids are bored and cranky, and you’ve missed many of the good things that summer had to offer.
The solution is simply to do some pre-summer planning in order to maximize the more-relaxed time that this season allows.
An important starting point is with your children. While their summer plans may revolve around staying up late every night and sleeping till noon the next day, experts advise that life goes more smoothly if a family has a set schedule and sticks to it. When meal times and bedtimes are on a consistent schedule, kids feel more comfortable and usually are more cooperative.
This is also the time to make plans with your kids for summer activities. If we’re talking about a teenager this might mean encouraging him or her now to seek that summer job or to enroll in a summer enrichment program. For younger children it can mean organizing play dates or setting up a regular schedule for playground or pool visits.
Whether there are children in the family or not, this is the time of year to make some clear plans for a summer vacation, if that hasn’t already been discussed. Last-minute vacation planning usually means increased stress and that’s not the point of a vacation. A real vacation means leaving behind the responsibilities and demands of home and work. This is what really reduces stress levels. Recent studies have shown that the majority of us are living overly stressful lives, and high levels of stress, over prolonged periods of time, can negatively affect both our mental and physical health.
So plan now for a summer that will bring you relaxation and revitalization. Whether it’s a long beach vacation, or just a drive to visit relatives in another state, taking the time to enjoy the season can bring many benefits and can keep you from waking up in mid-September wondering how the summer disappeared.
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This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.