This post is written by Katie Bugbee, the senior managing editor and resident parenting expert of Care.com.
Olaf loves summer. And so does every child on the planet. But this season of no school and longer daylight hours can often mean more work and more planning for parents and caregivers. Here are eight of the most important things to plan for now, so your summer can be kid-like and worry-free!
- Change in care plans. If your normal care plan includes school or a college caregiver, summer break can bring new faces and new structures. For the next three months, you might have to help kids adjust to day camp, a new sitter, or just being home more.
How to prep: Talk about the changes that will happen, introduce them to the camp online and talk about all the fun things they’ll do there. Let them meet and “interview” the sitter candidates on your second round of interviews, helping you narrow down your choice. And if you’re all home more, let kids help plan your summer curriculum — full of outdoor activities, arts and crafts, playdates and excursions.
- Exhaustion. These long days of summer will certainly create wiped out kids — and adults.
How to prep: Allow for some down-time on weekends or mid-week, depending on your schedule. And if kids are willing to nap now and then, take them up on it!
- Vacation plans. So your big family vacation is booked. But where is the relaxation? Your routine only changed locations. And the lack of black-out shades is making the kids wake up earlier.
How to prep: Consider hiring a date night sitter or bringing a summer sitter with you so you can sleep in or go out occasionally.
- Burns, stings and dehydration. As much as summer can be fun, it can also hurt. Sunburns, bites, stings, hot playground equipment, and lack of fluids are the hidden dangers of playing outside.
How to prep: Cover everyone with a high SPF, UVA and UVB protective sunscreen at least 30 minutes before leaving the house. Wear hats and try to stay in the shade, and avoid peak sun hours. And on top of always bringing water for each of you, carry a first aid kit in your purse, stroller or car that includes: bandages, more sunscreen, kid-friendly bug spray, and instant cold packs.
- Swimming dangers. While having access to a pool is lovely, it can create the most dangerous situations for kids. Be sure that someone is always watching the pool when kids are around (be wary of big parties when everyone assumes someone else is watching).
How to prep: You can always teach kids who can’t swim to wear a life jacket around a pool and never go in the water without a grownup. But the reality is that an adult needs to be with the child, when near or in the water. And if you have a big group, hire a babysitter who is also a certified life guard, to be an extra set of eyes.
- Brain drain. Three months out of a learning environment and kids start to lose a lot of what they learned in school.
How to prep: Keep the skills up by using fun learning materials and classroom-type toys as a form of play. Aim for an hour of reading and educational play each day.
- Rainy days. Your itinerary has you outside all day, every day, but that classic summer storm is bound to strike and keep you captive.
How to prep: Have about 15 rainy day plans in your back pocket. This might include a matinee, jumping in puddles, puppet shows, making paper mache, indoor obstacle courses, play dates with neighbors and summer crafts. Be sure to search Pinterest for fun ideas too.
- Creating memories. The pressure for parents and caregivers is how to make each summer memorable for their children. And while older kids can be semi-responsible for their own fun, we want all our kids to love their summer vacation — and have something to talk about when they get to school in the fall.
How to prep: Day camp is great for memory making, even if kids just go for one or two weeks. But if kids are home all day, creating a weekly itinerary and curriculum will help you feel organized and strategic — just like fun should be, right?! Jot down a list of playful ideas and assign them to certain days. If easier, invite other parents or nannies to help fill this list, creating a “camp-like” experience for all who can attend.
Katie Bugbee is the senior managing editor and resident parenting expert of Care.com. A busy working mother of two, she’s an expert on many parenting dilemmas, from appeasing picky eaters to finding the perfect babysitter.