Drake Thomas: Rules in summer aren’t a bummer; the beauty of keeping a schedule during off seasons

Reading that title may give you pause.

Summer is a time for respite, rejuvenation — and most importantly, no alarms — right? Why in the world would anyone want to keep their rigid normal schedule when the days are longer, and cookouts, ball games and pool parties seem to jump out from every direction?

It is difficult to convince little minds that it is bedtime when the sun sits low and fat on the horizon boasting perfect playing light, before disappearing completely and giving the stage to twinkling fireflies that hover at the perfect height to be cupped and observed by tiny hands.

While all these things can and should be embraced during the beautiful Missouri summers we are lucky enough to have, it’s still not a bad idea to have some form of routine to fall back on.

When we consider the very structured lives we as humans live, it is no surprise that it may become a system overload for our children when the bottom falls out of their routine and they are left to spontaneity. While most children love to go on an adventure, it is important to remember that the unknown may cause stress or concern in a little mind.

Though what is incoming is fun or exciting, it may still be a hair on the scary side to throw caution to the wind and set off into the unknown. As an adult, you know that the unknown is manageable and exciting, but in a tiny mind, the unknown is a big entity.

The word routine tends to suck the fun right out of any notion. I assure you that summer fun and routines are not mutually exclusive — they are not Clark Kent and Superman — they can exist at the same time! Additionally, Nobody is saying your summertime routine needs to be as rigid or formulated as your school time routine.

Carve out time for pool days and barbecues, but also carve out time for extra rest and downtime. If you are looking forward to an extracurricular activity or lake day that goes later into the evening, it may behoove you to take a chill-out moment in the middle of the day.

In addition to planning out some rest times, it may be a good idea to have the kiddos participate in planning the upcoming excursions. Not only will it give them a sense of purpose and learning while school is not in session, but it will also help gauge what they think they can handle emotionally and socially before their battery goes dead.

As an excited adult, it’s easy to forget that a child’s battery drains much quicker than an adult’s. And unlike our cellphones, you can’t just plug a worn-out kiddo into the car console. Oftentimes, a child with a dead battery is a lot harder to deal with than an iPhone flashing a battery symbol. There is no meltdown quite like the meltdown of a hot, hungry, sticky, tired child.

No matter how many exciting things you have planned for them, you may as well tell them they’ve just won a lifetime supply of Brussels sprouts and kidney beans because chances are, they’re not having it.

Once they reach that point, it’s easiest to call a recess in the courtroom of summer fun and allow the judge to retire to their chambers for a while. Chances are they will return ready to make their verdict. That verdict may be a cannonball or a T-ball game, and after a solid rest, they will be at their best to complete it!

So remember, next time you plan your summer outing, a little scheduling may go a long way! However, if you decide to schedule your summer, make sure you pencil in plenty of laughter, family and friends, and even a meltdown or two.

And, make sure to love your little humans — they help us all to be a little more human.

Drake Thomas is a behavior intervention specialist at the Cassville school district and is a Cassville High School graduate. He may be reached at dthomas@cassville.k12.mo.us.