For many parents, academic 2020 has been a grind. We’ve had to manage upheaval in our own lives and professions, while also somehow keeping our children from falling too far behind in school.

The good news is… it’s over! For now, at least. With assignments, tests and class Zoom meetings behind us, we can re-focus on our family relationships without that extra layer of expectation.

Here are some ideas to help you re-establish the rhythm in your family, by reducing the proportion of your time in which your child feels you’re making and enforcing rules and deadlines. Soon, you’ll be back to yourselves again.

  • Let them make decisions you don’t normally let them make, like what we’ll have for supper (even if they pick something unusual, as long as you can make it nutritious!).
  • Find ways to ask for their help doing things around the house or in the yard. Praise and thank them with specific ways in which their help made your life easier/the result better.
  • Try to keep the daily schedule a bit looser (or at least, have it feel looser to your child). The ability to just “be” together will help everyone feel more comfortable again.
  • Create a new family ritual for the summer. For example: every Saturday, have each family member pick a chocolate bar, and then cut each bar into one piece for each member of the family. Enjoy them as a group. The choosing can get high-stakes, as each family member thinks of everyone else’s tastes!
  • Every night at bedtime, set aside time for the “High-Low” game. When they’re snuggled in and ready for bed, ask your child to tell you their high point of the day and their low point of the day – so you can discuss them both. It’ll give you a new chance to connect, and understand what’s going on in that little heart and mind.