We have all been on quite the journey this past year. Families especially who have been cooped up inside with kids may be eager to jump into summer at full force to make the most out of our newfound freedoms.
Don't Get Overwhelmed
In terms of overall mental health and well being,returning back to normal activities is both advised and encouraged. However there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that kids and parents alike don’t get overwhelmed in the process.
Take It Slow
Take it slow. Yes, these are all things that we have done before. After a year of minimal interactions outside of the home with peers and activities, little hearts and minds overloading despite their excitement to see friends and do “all the things” may struggle to manage this sensory overload. This may result in them experiencing some big emotions and frustrations.
See the Success
To manage this, start with shorter play dates and meet in familiar parks or areas. Keep to one plan or outing every few days in the beginning. As you start to see success and notice that the kids are managing well – then you can start to extend these times or even plan a bigger day trip.
Set Realistic Expectations
Set realistic expectations. It won’t all be unicorns and rainbows. Despite the eagerness and excitement to return to the familiar there will undoubtedly be meltdowns and struggles. Help your child understand that is okay to feel two opposite emotions at the same time and that transitions can be difficult even when we want them.
Have the Discussion
Let your children know the day before when and where they will be going, with whom and for how long. This kind of information can help ease the smaller worries. Make sure to have snacks and water on hand to fend off the “hangries” while you’re out.
As well younger kids especially may need more sleep or quiet time to reset with all the excitement.
Collaborate. Involve the entire family in making plans for summer. The more involved the kids are in the planning process the more comfortable they will feel making the transitions smoother.
Family Wish List
Create a summer family wish list of places to go and things to see and do. Each week a family member gets to pick one thing off the list.
The list can have a variety of ideas on there that are free and low cost such as a front lawn sprinkler party, a family picnic or even exploring a new park or trail in the city.
Don’t forget to include some ideas for the rainy indoor days too.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is change; even good change can be difficult. Being prepared mentally that there may be some bumps left in the road still and allowing yourself and your children time to prepare for that emotionally is great self care.
Now get out there and have some fun!!
Samantha Barnes, Registered Psychotherapist, Sweet Spot Family Counselling
Written By: Samantha Barnes
Photo Credit: Veronika Kovecses