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      “Yay it’s summer! Mom I’m bored.” 9 Easy Tips for a Stimulating Summer   Ahhh summer… the freedom, the sunshine, the world of opportunity. The kids look forward to it all year.    Notice we said “the kids.”    Parents on the other hand, tend to be a little wary of the school-free season. While all parents love spending time with their children, summer means 3 whole months without the time consumption and mental stimulation that school provides. It means having to come up with activities for the kids yourself, which often translates to spending a lot more money. If both parents work, it can also mean having to find reliable child care and camps that aren’t exactly in the budget. So what’s a parent to do?   First of all – relax! That’s what summer is for   Many parents go into summer concerned that their child will be bored out of their minds. Research suggests, however, that constructive boredom is not only healthy, but essential for a child to develop their creativity, discover their personal identity, and explore ways to foster their own mental stimulation. If parents are always doing the heavy lifting in filling their child’s time, their child gets robbed of the opportunity to contemplate their own thoughts and interests and explore new ideas.    Here are 9 tips for giving your child a fun and stimulating summer, without scheduling every second:    1. Brainstorm beforehand   Foster your child’s creativity by having them make a list of things they would like to do over the summer. While they may choose a few unrealistic items such as riding a dragon or traveling to Hong Kong, their list will probably include many attainable goals such as going on hikes, having a picnic, or running through the sprinklers. When they complain of boredom over the summer, tell them to revisit their list for ideas to fill their time.    2. Structure Unstructure   By now most of us have heard of the damage that excessive screen time can pose to children. Too much TV or video game consumption can contribute to obesity, low self-esteem, social disorders, and decreased academic performance. When your kids are home all summer, it’s easy to let them binge watch cartoons when you need them out of your hair so you can clean the house or pay the bills. Remind yourself to limit screen time by establishing a few hours every day that will be used for “unstructured play.” Let the kids know that after lunch, they’re on their own until 3 PM – no gadgets allowed!   3. Let them make a mess   This tends to be a tough one for many moms, and it’s understandable. Keeping a halfway clean home takes daily diligence, and having kids can feel like there are tiny tornadoes spinning around behind you every time you tidy up. In the summer, try to stretch your patience toward the mess-making. You can set boundaries, like limiting messy projects to the tiled kitchen and away from your off-white rug, but let them do some experimental baking, indulge in some glue-heavy art projects, or create a mad scientist’s laboratory. Giving them the freedom to make messes will encourage innovative ideas.     4. Make summer about self-reliance   Since the 1960’s, American schools have shifted away from teaching basic life skills to focusing almost exclusively on academics. The additional time with your kids in the summer is a great opportunity to teach them what they aren’t getting in the classroom. Have them plan and prepare meals with you, teach them how to do laundry, have them create a savings plan for the new gadget they’ve been wanting, or teach them how to safely refuel a vehicle at the gas station. Summer is a perfect time to foster your child’s sense of self-reliance.    5. Commit to learning a new skill   A wonderful aspect of summer is that it gives kids time to pursue ideas and activities that they feel inspired to chase. As the school year comes to an end, ask your child to pick one new thing they want to learn over the summer. Even if they say something like, “Kung Fu,” you don’t need to invest in expensive lessons. Watch online tutorials a few times a week to empower them with some basic skills. Letting your child take the lead in what they pursue will excite them about learning and help their brain to “decompress” from the constant frontal lobe focus during the academic year. Don’t forget to choose something for you to learn over the summer as well! This will model creativity, persistence, and the importance of life-long learning.    6. Reduce the dreaded “brain-drain”   Many parents fear that summer will drain their child’s brain of everything they learned the prior school year and make it difficult for them to adjust in the fall. While a small regression is not the end of the world, it can be helpful to maintain some academic activity over the summer. Buy a grade level workbook for them or invest in some occasional tutoring in a subject they’ve struggled with. Just be conscious not to burden them with too many textbook obligations over the summer – they have the school year for that! Remember that there are academic benefits to recreational activities as well. Swimming, for example, is not only a fun total body workout but also a science in understanding the different ways our bodies are able to stay afloat.    7. No cost, no screens, no problem!   It can feel like there aren’t many options for summer fun that don’t break the bank. While there’s nothing wrong with splurging on an occasional trip to the zoo or amusement park, don’t feel guilty if most of your summer days are a bit simpler. Encourage your child to use their imagination by turning their favorite book into a play, making a “pretend” carnival in the backyard with a ticket booth and concession stand, or take on a family project like planting a garden or repainting a fence.    8. Find ways to help others   Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders, and summertime is a great opportunity to engage your children in looking outside of themselves and into the community. Look into different volunteer opportunities – drive meals to seniors as a family, bring care packages to terminally ill children in the hospital, or join a pen-pal program with orphans in third world countries. Volunteer activities will foster compassion in your child and add meaningful memories to summer that go beyond having fun.     9. Join the fun   During the school year, parents don’t get to participate in many of the fun and explorative activities their kids experience in school. Take advantage of this time by making sure to set time every day to act like a kid. Squeeze into that blanket fort, believe that the floor really is lava, and give an Oscar worthy performance as the villain in their puppet show. The memories you will share with your children will be worth far more than anything money can buy.      Variations can help   If you would like additional support in learning ways to stimulate your child’s mind and foster their creativity, Variations can help.       
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.         
  
       References    Biddle SJH, Asare M Physical activity and mental health in children and adolescents: a review of reviews  British Journal of Sports Medicine  Published Online First: 01 August 2011. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2011-090185  Gasper, K. & Middlewood, B.L. (2013) Approaching novel thoughts: Understanding why elation and boredom promote associative thought more than distress and relaxation. Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, USA  The Benefits of Boredom. Melboune Child Psychology. Retrieved Online. https://www.melbournechildpsychology.com.au/blog/the-benefits-of-boredom/  Tremblay, M.S., LeBlanc, A.G., Kho, M.E., Saunders, T.J., Larouche, R., Colley, R.C., Goldfield, G., Gorber, S.C. Systematic review of sedentary behaviour and health indicators in school-aged children and youth (2011) International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011 8 :98 https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-8-98   Wahi G, Parkin PC, Beyene J, Uleryk EM, Birken CS. Effectiveness of Interventions Aimed at Reducing Screen Time in ChildrenA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.  Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med.  2011;165(11):979–986. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.122   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Yay it’s summer! Mom I’m bored. 9 Easy Tips for a Stimulating Summer.    Psychologically Speaking . [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/9-easy-tips-for-a-stimulating-summer

“Yay it’s summer! Mom I’m bored.”
9 Easy Tips for a Stimulating Summer

Ahhh summer… the freedom, the sunshine, the world of opportunity. The kids look forward to it all year.

Notice we said “the kids.”

Parents on the other hand, tend to be a little wary of the school-free season. While all parents love spending time with their children, summer means 3 whole months without the time consumption and mental stimulation that school provides. It means having to come up with activities for the kids yourself, which often translates to spending a lot more money. If both parents work, it can also mean having to find reliable child care and camps that aren’t exactly in the budget. So what’s a parent to do?

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      The Unexpected Loneliness of a Stay at Home Mom   There’s no doubt that our country has benefitted from women becoming more involved in the workforce since the 1940’s. However, this cultural shift has created some difficult challenges for families on the home front. There are several factors that make having a parent at home the right choice for many families. But because many of today’s women pursue career endeavors before becoming mothers, they may feel a deep sense of loss and loneliness when they leave the workforce to focus on motherhood.   The grass is always greener   For new moms, one of their hardest days may be that first day back to work after their maternity leave. Leaving home and dreading the next 8 hours away from their fragile little peanut is tough, and although they’ve worked hard to achieve their career, the grass starts to look a lot greener for stay at home moms.   Just another mundane Monday   When a mom leaves the workforce to be at home, there is usually some excitement about not having to wake up as early, miss meetings for sick kids, or having to use a breast pump in the janitor’s closet. However, once she’s been at home for a while, the excitement may start to wear thin when she realizes how much she misses the intellectual stimulation of adult interaction. She begins to feel lonely and that she’s missing out on the outside world. As much as all moms love their kids, there are only so many episodes of Paw Patrol a grown woman can take.   I love my kids, but…   A study by behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman showed that when women were asked to rate activities that gave them pleasure, child care was very low on the list. Of course, mothers adore their children, but childcare does not offer the same level of stimulation as many academic or career pursuits. Working moms have a ton of stress as well, (heads up to all you working supermoms, your blog is coming soon!); but employment often provides breaks from childcare, adult interaction, and intellectual stimulation. This helps to alleviate the feelings of tension and isolation that can arise from around-the-clock childcare.     BAE just doesn’t get it   One of the toughest issues for stay at home moms is that their significant others often just don’t get it. They don’t understand that the house is actually messier when you don’t work. They don’t get how running your kids around to school and activities leaves almost no time for grocery shopping. They can’t comprehend why you feel so bored and depressed when in their mind, you “could do anything you want all day.”   The world doesn’t get it!   Society tends to look at stay at home moms as being privileged, assuming they don’t need to work or don’t have a job because they lack work ethic. This makes stay at home moms feel like they can’t complain about their struggles, as they don’t want to be perceived as entitled or inadequate. Society doesn’t give these moms the credit they deserve for the sacrifices they make to stay at home, nor does it acknowledge the immense level of work it takes to tend to a family’s needs 24 hours a day.   I wish I got paid for this   Another element of SAHM life that is hard to come to terms with is the lack of an income. Society teaches us that income is a large indication of our personal value. It’s tough to know how to place value on your daily work when you’re used to assigning a dollar amount to measure your progress. There have been several estimates at what the income value would be if moms got paid for all that they do, and they usually are in the 6-figure range; after all, being a housekeeper, chef, chauffer, teacher, and life manager for several people goes way beyond a traditional 9 to 5!   I can’t have “me-time,” who will make dinner?!   Stay at home moms are often viewed as being solely responsible for the needs of their children. This attitude not only trivializes the immense amount of work it takes to manage the needs of a family and household, but also guilts women from prioritizing their own intellectual and recreational activities. They fear that in focusing on their needs, they are compromising the needs of their children or spouse.   Why it’s a problem   Being a stay at home mom is challenging, and as they strive to be the perfect mother, the guilt and pressure that many moms feel can end up straining their relationships. Stressed or depressed moms may be more prone to reacting to their emotions, causing them to be frustrated and less affectionate toward loved ones.   What’s a mama to do?   With the right perspective, life as a stay at home mom can be incredibly rewarding. Here are a few tips for finding contentment and fulfillment at home:   1. Energize your endorphins   For a mom with young kids, it can feel like an act of congress to leave the house, discouraging many moms from joining a gym. Luckily, there are tons of at-home exercise options, such as running with a jogging stroller or streaming workout videos. Exercise increases endorphins, reducing depression and anxiety. Plus, you can model healthy fitness for your kids – taking care of yourself and modeling good habits – it’s a win-win!   2. Master mindfulness   Practicing mindfulness can help you improve your mood and model healthy coping skills to your kids. Mindfulness refers to being aware and accepting of your thoughts and emotions without judging yourself for them. Research shows that mothers that practice mindfulness have reduced stress, depression, and anxiety, as well as improved relationships with family members.   Follow these tips to become a more mindful mama:     Take a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness by finding a quiet place to sit and focus on your breath    Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts come to mind; accept that feelings aren’t facts and whatever you are thinking is normal and temporary    Have compassion for yourself    Take a “Mommy-Time-Out” - When you feel like blowing up, that would be the perfect time to step away and meditate on regulating your reactions    Keep your thinking in the present moment; don’t dwell on yesterday’s mistakes or worry about the future, focus on the good in the here and now     3. Connect with other SAHMs   #SAHMlife! There is a whole community of women experiencing life as stay at home moms, and there’s no reason for you to go through this alone. No one will better understand the struggles and blessings that you’re experiencing like other women who are going through the exact same thing. Finding a mom’s group can help you connect with like-minded women and increase your adult interactions.   4. Have them iron their own underwear   Don’t be afraid to ask your significant other for help with the kids or household duties. As women, we sometimes feel like we need to be everything to everyone, but let’s save that for Wonder Woman (and by the way, when have you seen Wonder Woman doing laundry or balancing a budget? Twenty bucks says her apartment is a mess too). If you need a break to window shop or get a manicure, leave the guilt at home and allow yourself to do it.   Dr. Daniella Davis, specialist in Women’s Issues at Variations Psychology , recommends at least 15-20 minutes of “me-time” per day to keep your mind rejuvenated and emotions regulated – doctor’s orders!      
	 Click here to learn more about Dr. Daniella Davis 
       5. Rev up your routine   We often think of children needing routines to feel secure, but adults benefit from them as well. While many women love the idea of the flexible schedule of a SAHM, employment provides daily predictability, focused tasks, and a set schedule. When you don’t have a routine in place, you may find yourself procrastinating and having a hard time getting your day going. Defining your routine can improve your mood and sense of accomplishment as you tackle each task you set before yourself. Take time to write down your plans for the following day. Put your most active goals first – bodies in motion stay in motion, and when you get yourself moving early, the rest of the day will fall into place.   6. Ignite your intellect   Employment is not the only means of intellectual fulfillment. Think of guys like Aristotle and Socrates; they spent a large part of their adult lives just sitting around contemplating life, and look how we remember them! Keep yourself intellectually stimulated by reading about topics you find interesting, take up a creative hobby, or get your kids involved in family-friendly volunteer work for a cause that you feel passionate about.      7. Keep an aerial view   When you’re in the thick of all of the time-outs, laundry-folding, and butt-wiping that motherhood has to offer, it can be hard to keep a positive perspective on how rewarding your efforts will be. It’s completely normal not to love every moment of motherhood; it can be tough, maddening, and even painful at times – but the meaningful moments make it worth the difficulty. When you feel yourself losing your mind, remind yourself to take an aerial view of your role as a mother. In just a few short years, all of the poopy diapers and scattered Legos won’t stress you out anymore, and you’ll look back on your title as “mom” as the most rewarding and meaningful role in your life.      
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.    More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References :  Blanchard, S. (2017).  Flex Mom: The Secrets of Happy Stay-at-Home Moms.    Mendes, E. Saad, L., McGeeney, K. (2012). Stay-at-Home Moms Report More Depression, Sadness, Anger.  Gallup . Retrieved online: https://news.gallup.com/poll/154685/stay-home-moms-report-depression-sadness-anger.aspx  Wisner, W. (2017). Why Didn’t Anyone Warn Me About Stay-At-Home-Mom Depression?  Mom.me  Retrieved online: https://mom.me/kids/39578-sahm-depression-real-and-no-one-warns-you-about-it/   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). The Unexpected Loneliness of a Stay at Home Mom.   Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/the-unexpected-loneliness-of-a-stay-at-home-mom

The Unexpected Loneliness of a Stay at Home Mom

There’s no doubt that our country has benefitted from women becoming more involved in the workforce since the 1940’s. However, this cultural shift has created some difficult challenges for families on the home front. There are several factors that make having a parent at home the right choice for many families. But because many of today’s women pursue career endeavors before becoming mothers, they may feel a deep sense of loss and loneliness when they leave the workforce to focus on motherhood.