If you are working parent with a tween, this may be your first summer heading to work while your child stays home alone all day. Sure, it would be great to have them in camps all summer, but let’s face it – that’s very expensive. How best do we handle this new freedom from afar?
- Enrol your child in a “home alone” safety course. It will give them skills and knowledge but also confidence. There are courses put on by various organizations Canadian Safety Council, St John’s Ambulance, SOS4Kids
- Discuss what is available for lunch and snacks in advance. Nothing worse than arriving home at 6pm to find much of tonight’s dinner was eaten as lunch.
- Assign daily chores. Just as children should pitch in around the house during the school year, the summer is no respite from things needing to be done to keep the house operating smoothly. It is fair and reasonable to ask the person who actually has time on their hands, to pitch in. “Today, can you please unload the dishwasher and pick up the mail?” Some youth prefer having a list they can see and check off, rather than being told verbally. Some children like having choice “ would you prefer to vacuum or do laundry today?”
- Stay in touch. With texting and facetime, it’s easier than ever to be in touch through the day. It’s nice to know your parents care and are thinking of you, not micromanaging you.
- Establish rules on such things as:
- allowable screen time,
- allowable outings,
- having friends over
- New Activities. You may not be able to afford summer camp, but a trip down the toy isle might help break the boredom: a badminton set? Magicians tricks? Bocci balls? Water rockets? Jigsaw puzzle? Juggling balls?
- Plan the day: some kids will find it helpful to have a plan for the day. It may change, but if you outline one day at time with a bit of structure, the day may seem less daunting:
10:00 AM: Out of bed and breakfast
11:00 AM: Daily chores out of the way
12:00 PM: 1 Hour of Screen time
1:00 PM: Lunch time and clean up
2:00 PM: Have Jake over to play with the new badminton set
4:00 – 5:00 PM: Snack and read some Harry potter
5:00 PM: Mom and Dad home.