Although June gloom has arrived here in Marina del Rey, by mid-day the weather is glorious. Great for families busy with late afternoon graduation parties and Little League championships. And right around the corner is summer vacation - lazy days for kids but often stressful for working parents. If you haven't nailed down your plans yet, here are some ideas that may help with your work/life balance:
Stay flexible. To minimize your anxiety and maximize time with your kids, try to negotiate a flexible work schedule. Even if you only take the odd morning off or leave early once in a while, find someone to cover for you. Downtime to rejuvenate is important for you and for the wellbeing of your family.
Arrange creative child care. There must be plenty of responsible teenagers in your neighborhood who are looking for a part-time summer job. Or why not organize a co-op or a weekly swap with friends? Don't forget your kids' grandparents or other family members who always say they want to see them more often.
Plan a staycation. Arrange a family meeting and encourage a discussion about what activities they would like. With a democratic process and everyone having a voice, you'll ensure cooperation. Think about visiting a local museum, playing beach volleyball, attending an outdoor concert. If money is an issue, several day trips or weekend camping trips can make the whole family feel recharged and reconnected.
Embrace boredom. Encourage your kids to use their imagination and discover their own ways to keep busy - a lemonade stand on the corner, watching home movies, planting a small garden, walking the dog, swimming in the community pool. It could be fun to play board games, ride bikes or shoot hoops with friends on the block.
Assign chores. How about having your kids help around the house with jobs that you don't have time for during the school year – clean out broken toys or box up outgrown school clothes. Have them run small errands or go to the corner grocery store. Let them keep the change and buy themselves a treat. They might like the independence and responsibility.
Limit Internet use. You may be tempted to use technology as a babysitter, but try to institute some tech free days. When kids have unsupervised access to media, it can be at the expense of their growth. Emerging research reveals that technology can short-circuit healthy development in socializing and learning.
Encourage reading. Talk with kids and listen to what they have to say about their summer reading. Most public libraries support a reading program with some sort of positive end result if all the requirements are fulfilled. And reading is a great habit to nurture. You can build structure by having your teens read to your younger children or even organize an informal neighborhood book club.
Your kids have their whole summer ahead of them - no schoolwork or having to wake up early. And you deserve to kick back and relax as well. With the long warm summer nights at the Marina, enjoy a walk on the beach, an outdoor barbeque and quality family time together.
© 2011, Her Mentor Center
Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. and Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. are family relationship experts with solutions if you're coping with stress, acting out teens, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult daughters-in-law. Visit http://www.HerMentorCenter.com for practical tips & learn about our ebook, "Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm." Log on to our blog, http://www.NourishingRelationships.blogspot.com & sign up for a free ezine,'Stepping Stones,' and ebook, "Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals."