Balancing act: Keep some routine going but know where to relax to enjoy summer

Is the freedom of summer amazing, or are you seeing more behavior challenges?

Summer is a time of more open schedules, more frequent treats, and less rules. For some, it is a break from routine that allows for a recharge. If that is you and your children, congratulations, and enjoy this moment! For others, though, the break in routine creates anxiety and arguing, and leads to more behavior challenges than any other time of year. If this is you and your children, keep reading, because I have some powerful tips for you.

How do you create structure without losing the joy of summer? It is a balance. Where are the places that you can build in structure, and where are the places where you can create freedom and allow for more exploration?

Build structure in ways that will support your daily life once September arrives. This includes:

• Waking up at a specific time each day.

• Going through a solid morning routine of getting dressed and having breakfast, even if you are just lounging around the house for the morning.

• Taking 10 minutes to sit and read together.

• Finding 10 minutes to sit down and draw or do worksheets. The structure of sitting and focusing on a task is an important skill to learn.

• Keeping a set bedtime.

• Speaking with purpose, as listening skills are something that should never be sacrificed.

Maintaining the feel of summer freedom and exploration is important, as it is still summer. You can do this by:

• Having more time with friends than usual.

• Allowing play dates to drag on and on and on. While you enjoy visiting with the parents, your kids can keep enjoying their friends.

• Getting outside and exploring new areas and corners of the city you have not seen yet.

• Saying “yes” more often. There are more possibilities and time in the summer, so when your kids ask for something, find more ways to say “yes.”

• Making sure you are celebrating every moment that you can. This can be done with happy dances, cheers, or ice cream. The method is less important than the enthusiasm.

Parenting does not take a vacation. You don’t get a summer break. It is a role you maintain every day. Determining what elements can shift as you move through the summer are critical. This is how you maintain your happiness and your family’s happiness!

Letting all the rules go out the window is never a good choice, no matter how much you want to be on summer vacation, too. Find the balance and take one small step at a time to maintain the quality behavior your small ones need to thrive in the world.

Dr. Marcie earned her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is the author of “Love Your Family Again” and “Love Your Classroom Again.” She has a thriving private practice, provides school-wide trainings for educators of all ages, and has been a guest behavioral expert on national media. For more, visit