Keeping your cool: Handling summertime stress

Strategies to manage stress at home in the summer.

Summertime is supposed to be a time for fun and relaxation, but for parents of young children, it can often seem quite chaotic. The combination of lax schedules, late bedtimes and hot and humid weather can put even the calmest of parents on edge.

Michigan State University Extension offers the following tips to help you keep your cool with your kids.

Maintain a routine and bedtime. Routines do not have to mean firm schedules. It’s OK to be flexible, but maintaining some predictable routine is helpful for children. They might not tell you they enjoy a routine, but knowing what comes next is a safe and predictable feeling for children. They know what to expect and when to expect it. Stick with a reasonable bedtime and support your child getting adequate sleep every night. Blackout blinds or curtains can help children fall asleep when it is still daylight and sleep in later in the morning.

Set meal and snack times. Maintain a meal and snack schedule for your family. Encourage children to eat a balanced diet of healthy fruits and vegetables, protein, dairy and whole grains. Include children in meal choices such as offering peas or carrots, apples or bananas, etc. Limit grazing on unhealthy snack foods all day long. Keep washed and cut up fruits and vegetables available for a quick snack. Provide a scheduled breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Be weather wise. Pay attention to the weather. Dress appropriately for hot temperatures. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen on outings. Don’t forget items such as bug spray, pop-up sun tents for the beach for little ones and sun hats. Nothing makes a child crankier quicker than being hot, thirsty and sunburnt. Taking time to plan ahead for summer safety will keep your outings fun and your children safe.

Stay busy, but not too busy. Summer is a great time to be outside playing with friends and family. Schedule fun outings, camps and other activities, but don’t forget to let your child have time to just play at home. Authentic play experiences are essential to healthy development. Try to make time for your child to just play.

Limit technology. When the temperatures soar, it can be tempting to let your children have unlimited screen time. However, too much screen time is hazardous for your children’s health and well-being. As a parent, set and enforce rules limiting screen time. Health experts suggest no more than one to two hours of screen time a day. Keep bedrooms screen-free and be sure children are engaging in at least one hour a day of physical activity.

With a little planning and scheduling, you can keep your cool with your children this summer. Enjoy the long, lazy days before school starts in the fall!

Visit MSU Extension’s Early Childhood Development webpage for resources and information for families and children and to find upcoming events in your area.

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