Moving into Summer

With summer swiftly advancing, Memorial Day almost upon us, I am thinking about the importance of striking the right balance of physical activity, mental engagement, and relaxation with my kids here at home.   I know I need to plan my summer the way I would plan ahead in teaching, but not so detailed.  I learned that those two months of summer can be a treasure, and the way to ensure at least a wee bit of relaxation for Mom, is to be active and structured.  So, I plan ahead, at least a week or two and Map out one or two destinations a week, to add a little zip to our usual routine of head to the local beach for the morning or afternoon.  Swimming and fishing are big priorities here, water play is a must even if we stay home with a sprinkler or water guns.  We like to visit the local library each week too.  But then what?  Maybe a visit to one of the grandparents, or a different park or playground is in store.  Perhaps we will visit a museum or other locale of interest.  I also fill in with videos when I can, for those rainy afternoons, or too much fun in the sun days, a new movie or an educational, or how to video. 

More and more I find myself looking for ways to provide outlets for different kinds of energy levels here at home, not just in the summer, but with three kids at home summer activity is even more crucial.  I think I am getting better at managing the big picture of too much energy.  Sometimes, when my oldest son just starts irritating the other two on an almost constant roll that inevitably results in screaching and crying, I know he just needs to do something.  We head to the lake and  that is an instant fix, swimming and fishing (mostly fishing) calms him.  But I don't always want to pack up the troops and head off to the lake, and during other times of the year that just isn't going to happen.  So I have been looking for other ways to manage the excess energy, and slothlike lulls here at home, not just as a big picture theory, but hopefully in even the little corners of life that poke us in the side and remind me I still have more to learn about promoting self regulation in my children.

I have been plucking ideas from the web for activities that can help release pent up energies, calm a child or stimulate one out of the slothlike stupor that sometimes washes in for a while.  It is funny though, because the more I read about the different strategies, the more I realize that my kids seek many of them out on their own.  The littlest one swings for hours.  The middle one flops himself on the big floor pillow.  The oldest may pick up crocheting, or carry laundry baskets down to the basement, (when it is His idea).  The boys love to use their little folding saws to cut down the saplings that seem to sprout up everywhere each spring.  But I would like to add to our array of choices for this summer, while pairing down on some of the excess clutter that has gathered over the school year.  I will create a place to once again hang our chair swing, maybe put up a hammock someplace cool, and generally try to provide some places and activities for calming and engaging the brain.  I will keep the knitting basket handy, and dig  out plenty of puzzle type games to keep on hand for individual or group play, stock up on art and whatnot supplies and hope for the best.

I found a really nice article, "Sensory Integrations and Supports for ASD", which includes some great ideas for ways to provide for the various sensory needs children may have.  I was also recently reminded of a pair of books The Out of Sync Child and The Out of Sync child has Fun which offer some good information that will help you figure out what kinds of activities could be helpful for your particular kiddos.  Keep in mind what I have said about labels in the past (they may be scary sounding)  Please note that although these resources have labels like ASD and "Out of Sync" in the titles they are good resources for any parent of any child. I also visited a site today that I was turned on to via FB, Your Therapy Source.  What I would love to find is a source for how to do lots of these ideas on the cheap, or out in nature, with minimal consumerism.  If you have any resources or ideas for safe, yet homemade or found in nature OT activities I welcome you to share. 

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