It’s almost that time of year again when school winds down and we all take stress-free vacations, get beautiful tans, don’t have to worry about any school work, all the kids get along, and cell phones no longer exist…don’t you wish!

As summer approaches, we want to provide some ideas to help make this summer more relaxing, enjoyable, and memorable than those in the past. Summer can be challenging for many reasons: childcare, finances, keeping up with the Joneses, boredom, transportation to camp or swim team practice, you name it. Here are three helpful ways to improve your family’s Summer 2019:

Maintain structure but increase free time and play. Depending on the age of your child or teen, continuing to have a bedtime, curfew, limits on screen time, and other boundaries is crucial. Most kids and teenagers function best with a routine and structure in their day (whether they realize or will acknowledge that or not).

With less schoolwork to do, there is inevitably more time for relaxing, spending time with friends, or perhaps even helping around the house. Activities and camps can be wonderful, but it’s also great for kids to have a break from the hustle and bustle of their normally busy lives and just be at home or with friends.

Communicate more. Summer is a great opportunity to spend more time talking to your kids, especially when the topic of school and grades isn’t at the forefront of the conversation. Ask your kids what their dream summer would look like, identify an activity or special night (game night, pizza night, family “walk the dog” night, etc.) that your family can commit to once a week.

More time together allows for more opportunities to converse, learn more about what’s going on in each other’s lives, and appreciate the people we so often take for granted. You don’t have to get fancy or expensive – keep it simple.

Enjoy quality time together. Think back to your summers as a kid. What made them special? Summer 2019 may look a little different but slowing down, sitting on the porch, playing in the sprinklers, and enjoying time together rarely gets old.

It may not be a big vacation, but cherishing the simple moments often helps us feel more appreciative and experience more joy in the day-to-day. And on those vacations…try to take it easy and make it your goal to not feel as stressed this year. The kids might get sunburnt, the bathing suits might not get packed, the daily grocery store runs may never end, but come September we’ll all be wishing we were back at the beach together.

If we can slow down and appreciate the small things every day, Greenville might just be the best place to be in Summer 2019.