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Summertime brings back childhood memories of free time and lazy days spent by the pool. As the weather gets warmer and it stays light longer, vacation vibes start filling the air. Of course, the reality is that kids have exciting summer breaks, but parents still have work obligations. This can make summertime a stressful time. What do you do with the kids while you’re at work? How do you make sure they have a good summer and stay safe?

Staying connected to kids while they’re at home can bring peace of mind. Finding ways to keep them occupied is icing on the cake. To make it through the workday while their kids are home, parents need ways to manage the stress. Check out these four ways for parents to achieve a stress-free summer.

1. Stay Connected With Your Kids

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Keeping in touch with your children throughout the day will give you peace of mind in the summertime. Your kids may be old enough to stay home alone, or they may have a sitter to watch them. They might even be off at a summer camp miles from home. No matter what the situation, it’s different from the school day you’ve grown accustomed to. So you’ll want to stay connected to your kids.

In the era of landlines, you could make a quick call home to check in. However, now many people don’t even own home phones. If you’re one of those people who have ditched the landline, how can you keep in contact with your kid?

According to Gabb Wireless, one solution is to buy a safe phone for kids. These phones can limit features that might not be age-appropriate. For example, if your child is young, you may want to get a phone that only allows for calls and texts. If they’re older, they may be ready for a full-fledged smartphone.

Age and maturity levels can help you decide what option is best for your child. Your comfort level is also important. Trust your instincts. There are several options that don’t allow kids access to social media or the internet for example.

Parental controls also let you lock down apps in some cases. If you’re not ready to get your kid a phone, there are other ways to stay connected. Check out the apps for your family tablet. iPads even have texting and calling apps. As long as the kids have Wi-Fi, they’ll be a phone call away.

 2. Keep Your Children Active

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One of parents’ worst nightmares is their child getting into trouble over the summer. All that free time can lead to boredom, and studies show that bored teens are more likely to use drugs. To avoid this, parents need to keep their children busy.

Thankfully, there are lots of enrichment summer school classes available. Maybe you can find a neat day camp for your kids to take part in. You can even check out your community pools for swimming lessons.

Camps and classes can decrease your worry. Knowing where the kids are and what they’re doing is very reassuring. Plus, they’ll be with vetted adults who are qualified to take care of children. Keep in mind that these activities don’t have to break the bank. There are many free or low-cost programs and clubs for kids. Check the local library and park bulletins.

If activities during the day aren’t an option, look into afternoon or evening activities. Oftentimes, practices for sports take place later in the day. You can sign your kids up for sports like soccer or baseball. This will give them a fun evening activity to look forward to.

Getting your kids signed up for programs can also lessen the guilt some parents feel for working over the summer. These activities are good for your kids, which means you’re still doing right by them. Plus, maybe then your angsty thirteen-year-old will be glad to spend some time with you over the weekend. Especially if you plan something special for Saturdays.

When you do have some time with the kids, take them out to do something fun. Look for free event calendars in your neighborhood. Some bigger cities, like St. Louis, have free attractions like the Science Center and the zoo. You can hit up places with free admittance for a fun and budget-friendly weekend getaway.

3. Create a Schedule

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Summer vacation can be a great time for kids and adults alike. It’s tempting to toss all the rules out the window and just relax. However, what initially sounds like an excellent daydream can quickly turn into a nightmare.

The results of not enforcing bedtimes can be ugly when you have to get up at six for work. Talk about a tired and stressed parent. Rather than allowing a chaotic free-for-all, create a schedule for the summer. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed and prevent exhaustion. Plus a summer schedule can help the kids ease back into school in the fall.

Make sure to include a summer bedtime. It can be later than during the school year, but make it firm. This ensures kids are getting enough sleep. It also allows you to stay on a good work schedule. Print up a chore chart, and stick it on the fridge. Giving them daily responsibilities will help structure their days and teach important life skills. Plus, it’ll make your life easier.

Also include dishes on the chore chart. You know your kids will be eating throughout the day, so they’ll be filling up the sink with dirty dishes. Putting dishes on the chore chart, and setting a five o’clock deadline will decrease your stress. There’s something about coming home to a sink full of dirty dishes that can just suck the energy right out of you.

4. Enjoy Time at Home

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It can be tempting to plan a packed summer, but that can add a lot of stress. All that organizing and planning can be exhausting. Some nights, it’s better to just stay home. A good mix of activities out and at home can bring balance to your summer. Come up with some low-key ways to enjoy your evenings in the house. For example, cooking together and watching a movie can be fun for kids and relaxing for you. Plus, it’s a great option for the hottest summer nights.

Your family could also start a weekly or monthly board game night. Disconnect from screens and have a great time reconnecting with one another. Do you have a grill? Toss on some hotdogs and enjoy a picnic in your backyard. When it gets dark, you could even toast some s’mores. Even those tasty treats can be done on a grill, but you can also build a fire pit.

Hanging out by a fire can be a very calm way to spend the evening. Your kids can sense your stress. So making the summertime easier on yourself will ultimately benefit your children. Try these tips to have a good mix of fun, sun, and relaxation. Just make sure that you can share that mix with one another.

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