Summer time brings a lot of free time, which can feel like freedom from the rigidity of school schedules. It can also be very difficult for parents to fill the open days. Below are some trauma-informed activities to keep your foster or adopted kids busy this summer.
- Create a huge, colorful calendar for the summer months and hang in your living room.
Allow your child to create the calendar with you. This not only gives the child a sense of ownership in the planning process, but also creates another afternoon activity for your child to complete. Provide several colors and encourage drawing images next to their events.
A big and visible calendar that your child can access freely allows them to look forward to upcoming events in the summer while also setting expectations that every day might not be the most exciting, activity-filled day.
- Let your child brainstorm their “yes” day.
Add at least one “yes” day to your summer calendar. Have you seen the movie “Yes Day”? Set aside time to watch it with your family and let them brainstorm their perfect day! Before the brainstorming day, write out clear expectations and guidelines for their “yes” day. Examples of expectations include – the total of all activities must be under $50, must be within driving distance, must include all family members, etc. After expectations and guidelines are set, let your child have free reign to be creative and draw images of their perfect day.
- Research local “foster friendly” summer camps!
Look for local summer camps that encourage foster children to join in on the fun! In Texas, Royal Family Kids Camp of Austin provides foster children aged 7-11 years old a week of fun summer camp with no charge to the family. Ask local foster families or your agency for help researching reliable and safe camps for your kids.
- Schedule weekly play dates with friends to give yourself a break!
Do not be afraid to ask for help! Summer can be exhausting and it is important that caregivers take time for themselves as well. Switch off weeks with friends to host kids in your home that allows each parent to get a break every month. Support is essential to staying sane.
- Create a routine for days the family is hanging out at home.
There is no pressure to give your child the most active, engaging, and full summer. Brainstorm activities that the family can do at home to keep everyone busy. Set incentives for chores, offer more responsibilities to the child that they would not have time for during the school day, and encourage creativity with the games you have at home.
- Limit screen time and encourage outside time every day.
Do not forget to utilize nature as a resource. However, be mindful of the rising summer temperatures. Create a “water drinking” challenge to make sure your child is getting enough water throughout their day when it is extra hot outside
- Review water safety with your child every month to remind them of the importance of being safe (even if they know how to swim).
As a parent, it is impossible to keep your child away from dangerous situations at all times. However, we can make sure our kids are aware of the dangers and equip them with the knowledge to have a safe and fun summer. Review DFPS water safety tips monthly. Let your child take turns reviewing the guidelines with the family.
- HAVE FUN!
Let the summer be a way for your family to increase connection, safety and stability. Continue to provide your kids with the structure and nurture they need to be their best, healthiest and happiest selves! Stick to a routine, even if every day might be a little different.