Heather Closen is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who is passionate about having balance in her busy "Mom life". Heather uses systems to organize her family life as well as the ABA department at RNH. Contact Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org
Depending on what school district your child attends, you’re anywhere from 1-3 weeks into Summer 2019! Welcome!...and I feel your exhaustion! As a mom, I know that summertime, in its essence, is fun and carefree, but when you’re spending time with littles it can end up being stressful, tiring, and tough on families. For kids, especially kids with autism or sensory defenses, the lack of routine that accompanies summertime can be overwhelming and draining. As parents, we can help our kids establish a routine that will help the entire family get the most out of a summertime together! · Make a calendar
Try using a whiteboard weekly calendar to lay out the activities for the week. Sit down on Sunday night with your children and talk about everything that will be happening. You may even want to write different activities in different colors (i.e., all the INSPIRE days are written in blue, and all the “family nights” are written in green.) OR, if your kids are older, you could give each of your children a different color to write their own activities on the shared calendar. This sense of preparedness may alleviate some of the anxiety that comes along with a change in routine.
· Establish a weekly routine
As an ex-Kindergarten teacher, I love alliterations. I try to have daily themes both at work and at home and use alliterations whenever I can. Think “Musical Monday” and either make a musical instrument or visit a music therapy class. Or, “Try Something New Tuesday” and visit a new place each week…get the idea?
· Give your kids responsibilities
Most children, if they’re in school, have a certain level of responsibility in the classroom. They can handle simple responsibilities around the home, too…and might actually enjoy them. Depending on your child’s age, they could help empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, sweep the floor, clean up the toys by their category, make their bed, or sort the laundry.
· Reinforce the behavior you want to see
As parents, it’s so easy to only say something when your kids are misbehaving, or if you need to correct them. This gets wearing on both kids and parents. Challenge yourself to notice, praise, and encourage the behavior in which you want your children to engage. And, if you have to redirect (because, let’s be real – that’s parenting), make sure to immediately praise the wanted behavior so your child knows that they did the right thing!
These few tips are just the tip of the iceberg – see what I did there? – but are sure to get you going in the right direction. Do what works for your family – but keep in mind that most of us, adults included, thrive with some sense of routine. And, if you or your family is struggling with establishing a summer routine, reach out! The therapists at RNH are happy to help!