How to Help Your Child Manage Spring Fever
Daylight Savings time is around the corner. The days will be growing longer; the birds out your window will be louder and humming with energy…and so will your kids. It’s nearly impossible to focus this time of year when flowers are blooming and cool mornings give way to mellow afternoons. We are all ready to break from routines and shake of the stiffness of winter. But if your child has special needs, routines are important and getting that energy out if you have a physical disability brings its own challenges. And yet, they feel the need to move and the desire to embrace the new season for all its worth too. So, here are some easy ways to make Spring Fever work in your favor.
A. Eats: Eat breakfast on the deck. Take an afternoon picnic to the park. Dine al fresco whenever you can. Just the simple act of eating out in the sun and the breeze is refreshing. It requires little preparation to pack their favorite snacks and throw a blanket in the back of your car for the next impromptu dining experience.
B. Therapy: Like any good teacher knows, a classic motivator for students is the potential for class outside. The same goes for therapy routines. Take a yoga mat outside for those regular stretching routines. Make an obstacle course in the driveway for that gait-trainer or wheelchair. Work on some gross motor skills with sidewalk chalk. Sneak in some speech therapy with a scavenger nature hunt. It will feel less like work and more like play.
C. Homework: Summer is around the corner. The pools have posted their opening dates. Nobody wants to think about algebra. But as every teacher will remind you, there’s still a quarter or more of the year left. It’s not quite time for the downhill slide. So, take homework to the park before dinner. Read that book for English class in a hammock in the sun. Do whatever you can to help your kids stay on track before the big deep release into summer.
Bring It Inside
If your child has sensory issues, all the unpredictable weather of spring can bring more stress than excitement. So bring some of the goodness indoors. Start an herb garden. Open the windows and air out the house. Pick some daffodils for the kitchen table. Let them help you make a new wreath for the door. Sneak in some new foods with seasonal spring greens. If the outdoors is a little too stimulating, there are plenty of ways to bring spring onto your kid’s turf.
Keep the Routine
A. Sleep: Spring is all about adventure, but kids still need structure to stay on track in school and at home and in therapies. And time change will throw anybody off course. Sleep is crucial for any of us to function at our best and the changing weather and new blooming things awaken all the dormant allergies, which means we all need our immune system at peak performance. If you need to, buy some blackout shades to keep bedtime regular and stick to the clock rather than the new lighter nights outside.
B. School: Make sure you set aside certain hours in the day for homework. Now that the weather is nicer, consider shifting the times. Maybe after dinner is a better time to focus than afternoon when the playground beckons. Whatever you choose, just let your child know the new plan and that it will be consistent.
C. Downtime: It’s easy to fill up the calendar quickly with playdates and zoo trips and weekends away now that you don’t have to bundle everybody up in a thousand layers and be home by 4:30 before darkness sets in. But kids still need rest. They need protected time to read, relax, play video games, nap—do whatever it takes to unwind. Make sure you plan for the downtime too.
Set Some Goals
January may be the great goal-setting month, but it can’t compete with the energy of spring. This is a great time to help your child set some goals for the next year or even just from now until summer. Help them decide what they want to achieve in school, in therapy, and at home. Write down specific actionable goals. These don’t have to be big. In fact, the smaller the better because they promise positive feedback. Maybe they want to pull that C+ up to a B- in Spanish. Maybe they want to try one new food a month. Maybe they want to clean off that one bookshelf in their room to make space for something new. Whatever it is, it’s an easy way to use some of that natural energy and endorphin boost of Spring to build their self-confidence and keep them working towards a goal.
Spring Fever doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can be the impetus for change that your children (and you) need to keep going strong into summer. There’s nothing wrong with a little extra “oomph” in these longer and warmer days.
Jamie Sumner is a writer and author of the website, The Mom Gene (mom-gene.com) and the mother to a son with cerebral palsy and twins.
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2018 Magazine