How to Help Your Kids Thrive This Summer

How to Help Your Kids Thrive This Summer

Summer is a fleeting joy with kids, but it can also be stressful for parents in unique ways!

With the change in routine, we can give our kids time and space to explore, have new experiences, and pursue healthy habits.

It’s not easy, though! Creating a healthy routine is challenging when you only have so much time. Plus, modern childhood has changed in ways that make good old-fashioned healthy summers a nostalgic memory.

You are not alone if you have mixed feelings about summer. Many parents wonder how to keep their kids busy and stay sane in the summer.

So, let’s talk about what you’re facing and how to make this summer the healthiest yet!

Why childhood summer may never be the same!

Change is a fact of life! But change is now coming faster than ever.

In just a couple of generations, summer has completely changed for kids. It used to be a time when most kids roamed free, unsupervised. People who grew up in the 1980s and before will talk about the one rule: “Just be home when the streetlights come on.”

The era of “free range” kids seems like ancient history

In that not-so-distant past, kids spent all day outdoors, except for meals—and sometimes, they would grab meals at neighbors' houses as if the entire street was an extension of their family. 

Some kids would go away to overnight camp, but day camp was much more rare. Very few parents have chauffeured their kids around in the summer for structured, adult-led activities until recent decades.

They were creating their own fun! Kids used to hang out in packs of all ages, with the oldest “taking care” of the little ones. 

Kids are safer in summer (but less free)

Gradually, decade by decade, parents started to become more cautious and protective. 

In many ways, this shift has kept kids safer. Kids now wear helmets, sunscreen, and bug spray. They’re kept hydrated, protected from heat stroke, and out of harm’s way, thanks to safety-conscious summer parenting

Even when we send kids to adult-supervised camps, we take precautions to keep them safe!

Something was lost, too, though! That free, outdoorsy, unsupervised style of summer living is gone for good.

Screens have changed things forever

Parenting style isn’t the only thing that has changed how kids experience summer. Technology has also changed nearly everything, and summer is no exception. 

The introduction of smartphones changed childhood in a way we’re only beginning to understand! 

It’s now possible to hide away all day without raising your heart rate, so summer can be super sedentary if screens are unlimited. Plus, parents are all too aware that content online can stress kids out in ways we never experienced as children.

Many parents are worried about the impact of too much screen time and looking for ways to disconnect. Just knowing that “digital detox” is on your to-do list this summer may actually stress you out!

Summer heat is hotter than ever

In some parts of the country, being outdoors in summer isn’t what it used to be. Heat warnings and poor air quality can prohibit that easy, breezy outdoor living.

Kids need space to run and play. That free play outdoors is how kids have grown strong and physically resilient throughout history.

Let’s not forget your needs! Parents need to keep the outdoor voices (and messes) outdoors. 

When kids are trapped indoors because of the weather, everyone can feel a little grumpy.

The upshot? You and your kids might not feel like summer is all that relaxing! Let’s talk about what we can do to change that.

Kids can still have super healthy summers (even though it’s tough!)

First, let’s acknowledge that trying to “win” at summer is brutal. It can feel like giving your kid a great summer is just another pressure! Especially if you’re working, parenting multiple kids, or juggling other responsibilities.

You want their summer to be magical and memorable. But not if it means wearing yourself out altogether.

So, before sharing tips and ideas, consider this: you don’t need to be a superparent in every department. Summer can be a success if you simply keep them physically healthy and attend to their emotional health, too.

The essentials every kid needs are much simpler than we sometimes think. Kids need basics like security, stability, structure, and loving, consistent, supportive relationships to thrive.

They don’t need a summer jam-packed with developmental activities to learn, grow, and reach their full potential! 

For example, driving across town four times a day so your kid can attend a top-tier tennis day camp might not give them a considerable life advantage. They may get just as much out of bouncing a ball at the local park or spending time with their grandparents.

Likewise, epic summer travel plans might be overrated. If planning a trip stresses you out and costs too much, consider a staycation.

The fact is that we cannot do it all as parents! Not without a massive cost to our emotional well-being and energy, which also costs our kids. So, let yourself prioritize what matters and let the rest go.

Pressure-free summer activities with kids

You won’t be able to do it all, but what can you do to keep the kids occupied this summer?

We’ve shared summer inspiration activities on the blog. Peruse these ideas to pick and choose what sounds fun for your family:

7 Thrilling Things To Do Before Summer Ends

8 Summer Projects To Keep Your Kiddo’s Brain Active

How to Travel with Kids This Summer

Feeling Pressured for an Active & Proactive Summer? Read This!

Remember, it’s not about packing in the most activities or making each adventure a peak experience. Kids can learn, develop, and create happy memories by doing the simplest things.

Relaxed and unpressured activities also benefit your kids. If you ease your expectations for activities, you might notice that your kids thrive when they have the time and space to be themselves and hang out with you and others.

Independence Day could be every day in summer!

Here’s a retro idea. Use unstructured time in the summer to step back from activities. 

That’s right, we’re talking about “unstructured” or “unsupervised” play. Whether those words make you break into a cold sweat or fill your heart with longing, the fact is that kids do need independence to master skills and reach their full potential. 

If you can step back and give it to them, they can thrive in ways you may not have expected, and you can use the time to get stuff done!

There are many excellent online resources to help you learn more about independent play. Find tips on getting started and being successful in these articles:

Supporting Independent Play With Screen-Free Resources

How to Encourage Your Child to Play Independently

7 Research-Backed Tips for Encouraging Independent Play 

You don’t need to invent solutions to independent play yourself! Countless parents and teachers have guided kids to be creative, resourceful, and fully engaged in activities off screens.

Of course, any change is hard! If your kids are used to being more passive participants, they will need time to rewire how they play. They’ll soon discover that leading their own activities can be more fun than any screen or activity an adult invents.

Healthy summer habits (that are great all year!)

Remember what we said about the essential foundation kids need to thrive? Kids basically need to be safe and healthy (emotionally and physically) and have opportunities to learn.

As with the rest of the advice here, we recommend keeping your health goals simple this summer. The simpler, the easier to achieve.

In the summer, you might find it’s easier to achieve these health goals, too. Use the summer months to practice these healthy habits, and the new routines may be established when school is back in session.

  1. Simple nutrition and hydration

Eating healthy meals and snacks can be easier if you’re at home more often. Emphasize whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed (or lightly processed) grains and proteins.

Get kids involved in preparing food so they can help more when timelines are tight. 

Take advantage of the peak season produce to introduce kids to local, fresh fruits and vegetables they haven’t tried.

If your kids don’t eat the rainbow and a wide range of foods every day, consider supplementing the daily essentials. Their bodies and brains must get the nutrients they need to grow, develop, and reach their full potential.

Hydration is vital on hot summer days — but it shouldn’t be complicated. Get kids into the habit of drinking plenty of water and filling their own water bottles to go.

  1. Daily movement (as much as possible)

Simply be conscious of getting enough movement. You and your kids don’t need intensive, competitive sports every single day, but you do need basic exercise.

Luckily, the daylight hours are longer, so you can fit in activities in the cooler hours before sunset. Family recreation time after dinner can be magical.

Try integrating more movement into your routine. See if you can walk or bike more often instead of taking a vehicle.

Remember the tips on independent play? Your kids may need more movement than you do or more than you can fit into your day. If you can let them get active independently, it’s a win-win.

Say “yes” to letting them walk to the park with a neighbor kid, for example, and kick around a ball. It feels risky to give them more freedom, but often, the tradeoff is that they run around and exhaust themselves in healthy activity.

Just make sure your kids understand and can practice good safety when unsupervised.

3. Rest and Relaxation

It’s easy to let long days turn into late nights. Nevertheless, be vigilant! Make sure your kids get enough rest every day (or close to it). Sleep is absolutely essential to their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

(Remember, their health is your priority, so if you have to accept fewer activities for better health, make that trade!)

The habits for healthy rest and relaxation are simple. Establish a regular bedtime routine and include downtime activities like reading or quiet play to help kids relax and recharge. To make this happen, you might have to turn off the internet and have downtime yourself!

Support kids to thrive this summer and beyond

Summer can be a difficult time for parents for many reasons. You face pressures that parents in previous generations never faced before! And so do your kids.

It’s not easy to give kids an old-fashioned healthy summer. But there are still ways to make summer a time when you step up your health game as a family. Many of these solutions involve doing less, not more, or focusing on the important things and letting the rest go.

Like emotional and physical health. Time together. Simple, nutritious foods and movement as part of everyday life.

If you need help creating a nutritional foundation for your kids’ health, remember that you can boost their intake with high-quality supplements!

Renzo’s vitamins are tasty and easy to take, making it simple for kids to ensure they get their daily dose of essential nutrients. Our line of high-quality supplements is formulated to support growing kids’ health and development.

Kid favorites like Picky Eater Multi, Iron Strong, and Bright & Brainy B6 give them the nutrients they need to have energy, focus, and calm whatever activities summer brings. 

When kids are healthy and happy, they can turn the world into a playground of endless possibilities… even if it’s just in your backyard!

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