Anticipate Summer Childcare Needs

Sure, it’s only the beginning of spring, but if you haven’t started making plans for summer care for your children, vacation plans, and revised work schedules you may already be too late for some options.  Camp programs that are perceived as the best fill up fast.  Hot vacation spots quickly become booked and sold out.

Decide what type of childcare or camp you will need to for your children.  Younger children, of course, need more care and supervision, whereas, older kids want more activities and trips.  Some children are old enough to spend time alone (but do you really want your children unsupervised every day for large periods of time?)  Perhaps, you can arrange with a neighbor or friend to be available for your children and keep an eye on things.

Depending on their ages, a job at a camp, with a landscaper or other seasonal help may be perfect to keep them busy.  Your children would have the opportunity to earn money and you can breathe a sigh of relief because you know where they are, what they’re doing and whom they’re doing it with.

Parents who are home often welcome a mother’s helper (usually a 10-12 year old who is not quite old enough in most cases to babysit on their own).  Local businesses may offer internships or apprentice programs to help young teens learn about business.  In some cases, your employer may permit and welcome some extra help during the summer.

Summer camp programs are a viable option for your children.  There are several million children ranging from age 3 through 16 enrolled in summer camp each year. The programs are either a day camp or an overnight schedule. Camp programs are available for just about every interest and length of time.  Consider your child’s interests and you may be able to find a camp that offers programs specifically in his/her interest area.  In addition, in some areas there are summer enrichment programs offered either independently or through the local school system.  You may be able to use the summer as an opportunity to have your child catch up in a subject he/she is falling behind or take extra classes in an area of interest.

If you are interested in hiring a babysitter or nanny to watch your children during the summer, determine what your needs and requirement are first.  Seek out candidates through agencies, advertisements and referrals.  Interview each candidate and check references.  When you’ve selected the person you want to hire, train her (or him) yourself.  Be sure your caretaker understands your wants and needs and can adequately supervise your children.  Discuss your rules and restrictions and be sure your caretaker understands them.  Decide whether or not you will permit your caretaker to drive with your children in the car, where he/she is allowed to take your children, where your children may play in the neighborhood, and, if swimming will be permitted.

You must be confident in the care you arrange for your children so that you can concentrate at work without constant worry or interruption with their phone calls.  You cannot wait until last minute to plan for the summer.

Overscheduled Kids leads to Over-Stressed Families

Teachers handed out an article last week at back-to-school night without identifying where the story came from. However, the article, “Kids call for a Time Out” stated the problems over scheduled families face and gave a tried and true solution…”Just say no”.

My children are involved in activities. Early on, my husband and I set limits on how many and how much they can be involved with at any one time with the caveat the school always comes first and any drop in grades will result in changes in their extra-curricular schedule. Admittedly, there have been times along the years that we had the same conflicts in scheduling, transportation and other conflicts that other families also face. However, my children have learned to make choices!

My 11 year old daughter was a competitive gymnast up until last year. She took up dancing to help enhance her gymnastics presentation and skills. Ultimately, she liked dancing so much that she’s elected to drop from the gymnastics team and devote more time to dancing. She originally wanted to take 5 nights of classes but in re-thinking opted for 4 nights, with usually just 1 class a night. We are involved in carpools and the dance school is conveniently located about a mile from our home. Next year, she’d like to try out for cheerleading. She wanted to try out last year but due to an already pressed schedule, chose not to.

My son is also involved in extra-curricular. During the spring he participates in a non-travel baseball team and in the fall/winter he is in a youth basketball league. We chose these because his main interest is motocross, which is usually a weekend activity. He, too, has learned to make choices based on his primary interests. The basic rule of thumb is up to 2 activities at any one time if they don’t conflict. Prior to registering, we ask allot of questions about the schedule and commitment.

A growing number of parents are avoiding over-scheduling their kids because they think the hyper-scheduling has gone too far. Now a Minnesota group has set up a website to help parents curb their children’s‘ crazy schedules. This group receives new inquiries daily as an increasing number of parents are ready to refocus their lives and the lives of their children.

How about your children…are they over-scheduled?

Help Kids Organize for the School Year

Even if you’re one of those parents who think you don’t have good organization skills, fact is, just to keep things flowing on a daily basis, you have some degree of organization skills. Help your kids learn to organize, too!

Motivate your children to get organized and, more importantly, make it a habit by creating rituals at home like:

1. Put the backpack in the same place at the end of the school day.

2. Do homework in the same place and at the same time each day.

3. For younger kids, sit nearby as they work, if possible. And for all kids, make sure they have adequate supplies, from notebooks to pencils. Review their notebooks. Check their homework. Review their papers, quizzes and tests from school.

Kids, just like adults, like the feeling of being organized. Before the school year begins, ask the teachers what they think are essential organizational skills. This prepares you and enables you to get a head start.

See if this helps!

Best regards,

Coach Natalie

Help your Kids Prepare

Remember the 5 P’s: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

Talk about routine shifts from summer to school year: Bedtime, curfew and the like, but get beyond this, too as you prepare for the new school year.

Get your children to feel a bigger sense of responsibility for completing their homework and keeping track of assignments by taking things one step at a time. Be realistic in your expectations. If your child spent all summer losing their swim goggles, don’t expect them to be able to keep track of all their books, their sweatshirt, and their school supplies! Improve the odds of better responsibility by growing the skills from the inside, which means, unfortunately, that you often don’t necessarily see results right away. They develop the roots of responsibility long before the behaviors are evident on the outside.

Set clear expectations and hold your children to these expectations. Be interested in their work, the assignments, and what’s difficult and easy about them. Your interest helps.

When they complete homework make sure you acknowledge it, but not just with an “I’m proud of you.” Your feedback has to point to the internal growth of responsibility, so “How do you feel?” or “You must feel good about that” are better comments.

Be preparing your kids and shifting responsibility to them you have less stress in your super busy life!

Try it and see how it works for you….but remember to be patient!

Coach Natalie

Partner with the School

Even though life might feel too busy, get to know your child’s teacher(s), principal and other school personnel. Although you may not be available during the school day for regular activities, look for opportunities to participate in the hours you can. For instance, you can bring a dish to the annual pot luck dinner, attend PTA meetings, visit the school with your child prior to the start of the year, help with photocopying, etc. If they have a website, log on often to see what’s going on. Be aware of school regulations and help your child abide by them. Also, be sure to read school notices regularly.

Coach Natalie

Stay Involved with School-Aged Kids

Even though you are super busy at work and home, it’s vital that you are involved with your children’s education. The younger your children, the more parental involvement is necessary! However, even when you have teens in high school, it’s still important to be involved because parental involvement makes a positive difference (even though your children may not readily share that with you!).

Your kids start the school year with a clean slate and a new teacher. It’s a great opportunity for a fresh start.

If you demonstrate how you value education it is more important than if you just talk about it. So, model the importance and help get your children off to a good start this new school year.

With older kids, seek their input about your role in their education for this school year. It might take awhile for the response to unfold, but when it does, you’ll have some interesting conversations.

With younger kids, plan on spending time at the school during the first few weeks to get to know the teachers and other parents.

Finally, stay involved, but don’t try to run the show, either. Just stay involved and aware of what’s going on.

Stay tuned for more back-to-school tips in this BLOG!

Yours truly,

Coach Natalie