I love summer. I love the sun and the more relaxed schedule, and I LOVE time with friends or family at cookouts or summer parties! But honestly, sometimes those summer parties can bring out the not-so-best behavior in my kids. Anyone else?
I want to share with you some of the best tips I have shared with other families (and used in my own life with my kids!) to be more proactive at these summer parties to decrease our stress and increase the fun!
Tip #1: Know that although parties are fun, it is still a change in the routine
Change in routine, even when it is fun, can still throw a loop in your child’s behavior. If they are used to getting in the bed at 8pm, but you want to stay out until 9pm for the party, that might cause some difficulties. It doesn’t mean you CAN’T stay out until 9pm or even 10pm. It does mean, you might just remember that it is a change and have a little extra grace when they have an attitude about something or are more frustrated.
In particular, if you have a kid who struggles with change, you might want to prepare him/her about the party, and the change in routine. Including them in the planning of things for them to do at the party might also help. For all of our kids, reminding them about the change in routine and even telling them (in the moment of the meltdown) that you know today has been a wacky day could also let them know you “get it”. That even though it is fun, this is a different thing for us to do as a family today and sometimes that could make this more frustrating or tiring, or whatever your child might be feeling!
Tip #2: Summer heat makes everyone less tolerant
Summer = heat. Too much heat = angry, tired, worn-out”ness”. It also means less tolerance for just about anything. So, you said “no” to having another popsicle? And that turned into a meltdown? And usually she doesn’t get upset about that kind of thing? That’s the heat talking! Your son seems to be crying or whining about everything? Even the tiniest of things causes catastrophic drama? That’s the heat talking!
Although we all realize summer brings heat, we sometimes underestimate how much this impacts our kids’ behavior. In those moments when you hear yourself saying, “Gosh, it’s really hot out!” – Remember, heat = less tolerance for just about everything!
Tip #3: Summer parties usually means…bring on the food!
Parties with friends or family usually include a buffet of food that is not typically what your kids eat. Again, like the routine scenario above, when kids eat lots of food that they aren’t used to, it might cause their stomachs to be a little bit out of whack. And when we are eating foods we aren’t used to, it also impacts our mood. And for our kids, their mood directly impacts their behavior.
Trying to stick to just a few things out of the norm might help your child maintain balance. Although, I must admit, this is probably one of the biggest challenges for me because all of the food looks and tastes so good! On the other hand, this past 4th of July, I realized that my kids were having so much fun playing and running around that they didn’t even eat lunch until around 2pm! OOPS! Whether it is different food, or a different food schedule, just remember that food impacts their mood and their mood impacts their behavior.
Tip #4: “Visit mode” means they are getting less attention from you
For most of us, the main reason for attending summer parties is the time we get to connect with family and friends. We want to catch up with extended family, hear how they have been, and share how we have been. All of this is amazing and essential to our personal connections with other adults. At the same time, when we are engaging with other people in what I call “visit mode” (i.e., listening and conversing for several minutes at a time), we are essentially ignoring our kids.
Even if we are watching them from afar, we are still attending to something other than them. And for some kids, this might a big change from the norm. They might be accustomed to having mom or dad all to themselves.
Again, this isn’t a problem that we need to change. I am certainly not suggesting we never have visit mode. Rather, I am suggesting we keep in mind that when our kids begin whining or hanging on us, those might be their bids for attention. Our kids might act out to get some attention from us when they aren’t getting as much of us as they are used to. Just realizing this can really be helpful in the moment of a meltdown so you can respond from a place of compassion, rather than frustration.
Tip #5: Social relationships are different at parties
When family and friends and extended family members come together, it is sometimes an unusual social dynamic for our kids. A cousin might leave another cousin out, causing hurt feelings. Three friends might love to run and jump and play, inadvertently knocking something over – causing irritation of another adult. Many people, even though they are family, are strangers to our kids – something that might require additional discussion about.
The point here is that it might impact both you and your child as you are trying to not look like “that mom” or protect your child from being hurt – which oftentimes can be stressful. To remedy some of this, it might be good to have an hourly check-in with your kids to ask how things are going with their friends at the party. Is everyone getting along? Does everyone feel included? Similarly, a check-in about how they are doing with you being in visit mode might be important as well. Is there anything you need from me right now? I am going to visit with grandma for a little bit, come find me if you need something?
Going to summer parties is a fun way for you to reconnect with others, but is also a great model of how to engage in community as our kids grow. What other tips do you have for surviving the summer parties?? Share below or on our Facebook page!