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Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

Kids and Summer by Fran Joyce

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Kids and summer can be magic, but remember, unless you have a balance between structure and free time, kids can get bored or overwhelmed.

The school year for most families is pretty hectic. Between school, homework, extra curricular activities, and family time most kids don’t get a lot of free time. It’s tempting to say, “Let them be kids this summer. We’re not going to put them in any activities, so they can enjoy some downtime.”

That’s great in theory, but going from a structured environment to a free for all can be confusing. It’s fun for the first week, but kids can feel lost or bored. Constant structure isn’t the answer either.

Kids need balance and summer is the best time to let them find their balance. Sit down and look at your work schedule and your finances. Will the kids be in daycare? If so, their routine must remain in place to an extent. Will they be playing summer sports and/or attending science camp? Is camp out of the budget this year? Will you be taking a big family vacation or do you need to plan a staycation?

Once you’ve established what your family can afford to do, it’s time to look at your kids’ schedules and interests. Get them involved in how the summer will be spent. Don’t accept, “I just want to sleep in, watch TV and play video games with my friends all summer.” Yes, there needs to be some of that, but there are only so many summers left before a driver’s license and the first summer job changes everything.

Keep your kids reading, playing outdoors and dreaming under the stars in a backyard tent for as long as you can. Teach them about their world… why fireflies light up and birds don’t fly at night. Make sure they know the house still needs to be cleaned, meals prepared and dishes washed even if they are on vacation. Let them make some decisions about how to occupy their time and you’ll be amazed at how much richer your family time becomes.

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