How to Relax the Rules for a Fun but Sane Summer

Rules are made to be broken, but when it comes to summertime, many parents wonder: Which ones to break? You don’t want your home life to become a free-for-all for three months, but you also don’t want to create a police state that takes the “break” right out of summer break. So where do you redraw the lines?

“Rules are always based on need. You should rethink them based on the necessities of summer,” says educational psychologist Michelle Borba, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. “Push the pause button and ask yourself, ‘What are the three rules we need to have during the summer?’ Don’t let it all go; just take a step backward and loosen one thing at a time.”

If you’re having a hard time letting go, Borba suggests asking yourself what memories you want to make this summer. The answer probably won’t be “no freedom” or “no fun.” Still, no matter what rules you loosen, you need to make sure you’re not so flexible that you end up creating more work and stress for yourself. After all, you need to know how to relax and have fun too!

Consider the following when rethinking the rules for the laziest days of the year. …

Remember what summer means

For kids, summer is a break from all the pressures and demands of school, activities and homework. It’s also a relief from the strict scheduling of the school year. Breakfast doesn’t have to be at 7 a.m., because there’s no 8 a.m. school bus to catch. So does it really matter if they stay up — and sleep in — an hour or two later than usual? Will your schedule allow for it? How much will it disturb your evening or morning routine?

One solution: Keep yourself sane by letting the kids stay up an extra hour, but limiting them to quiet activities in their rooms.

Consider the consequences

What will happen if you relax a given rule? For example, if you abandon the no-shoes-in-the-house rule, you’ll have a parade of flip-flops leaving trails of water, mud and grass clippings. If you let your kids watch TV before they clean up their toys, you’ll have to walk around the mess for the evening. What consequences can you live with, and which ones will drive you batty?

One solution: Choose one rule to enforce and let the other one go: So if kids still have to wear their shoes in the house, maybe let the tidy-up wait until after TV time.

View each situation separately

After making the rules, be flexible enough to break them on an as-needed basis. Weigh the benefits: If your kids are outside playing flashlight tag with the neighborhood kids, will they gain more by staying and playing or by leaving the game early to get to bed on time?

One solution: Tell kids they can stay out for an extra half-hour, but then they’ll have to come in even if the other kids don’t.

Put it on paper

Once you’ve thought of the must-have rules for summer, call a family meeting. State your expectations, but ask your kids for their input. “You can negotiate, but only let go of the rules that don’t make a difference,” says Borba. Then write down the new rules and put them up where everyone can see them. “Don’t make a big deal out of it,” says Borba. “Just make it clear.” Then, when the kids break a rule, you can just point to the paper and say nothing more.



Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 05-07-2012 to 05-13-2012

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 25 news-worthy events.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

We need safer drugs for our kids http://t.co/fpRSG0ms 4 of 5 kids hospitalized in the US are treated w/drugs not tested for kids!

“Ask the Advocates” Guide to the Special Needs Educational System

If you are a special needs parent with a newly diagnosed child or if you have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting coming up you might want to do a little homework. Some parents bring a child advocate to meetings, but you can be your child’s best advocate if you are prepared.

Parents and child advocates Aisla and Bev put together an affordable e-book called Ask the Advocates to help others get the most out of the educational system. The book addresses both general questions such as how to request assessments and services for your child, as well as very specific issues like behavioral support in school. The authors offer a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied and include free resources lists. Read more about the book and the writers here.

Should We Follow Sleepaway Camp Advice on Meningitis Shots?

Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the brain that could lead to serious complications, including permanent brain damage and even death. Each year, there are about 2,600 cases of this very contagious disease in the U.S., mostly in adolescents and infants. Camps usually suggest the vaccine because closed environments – like college dormitories or camp cabins – mean there’s a risk of a severe breakout.

There are two major vaccines available for prevention, and while they won’t stop 100 percent of cases, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the known side effects, which can include headache, diarrhea and muscle pain. Experts recommend that all children receive the shot routinely starting at age 11. If your child has not previously been immunized against meningitis and he’s leaving for overnight camp, boarding school, college or another group living situation, I would recommend vaccinating against meningitis.

Talk it over with your pediatrician and decide what is right for you.



Keeping Your Child Healthy on Airplanes

Many cold and flu viruses are transmitted when you touch surfaces. And when you’re on airplanes, you’re touching armrests and tray tables that may not be very clean. Since so many people are touching the same surfaces, it’s all too easy to pick up germs on your hands.

So always have your child wash hands thoroughly before and after using the bathroom on a plane. And when you can’t get access to a sink and soap, use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol. If you’re worried about the drying effects of alcohol, use a hand sanitizer that has added moisturizers, like aloe.

And since the air on planes is so dry and uncomfortable, you might also want to bring along some saline nasal spray, which you can use to help keep both yours and your child’s nasal passages well moisturized.

It’s also important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water — that goes for you and your child.

Finally, try to avoid sick people when possible. If you’re sitting next to someone who’s coughing and sniffling and the flight is not full, speak up and politely ask a flight attendant if you can move to different seats.



Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 04-30-2012 to 05-06-2012

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 25 news-worthy events.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

No more nipple confusion: Study says pacifiers may help breast-feeding  http://t.co/qinn3osh 2012-05-04