Is back to school causing an unwelcome transition? Ease angst by creating end-of-summer traditions.
Traditions and rituals serve an important part in developing cherished memories for children and families. They provide a sense of identity, serve as a means for measuring the passage of time, create and deepen family bonds, and offer experiences to anticipate and remember.
With summer ending and our children starting a new school year, we have a perfect opportunity to introduce a new family tradition that puts a “positive spin” on this time of year. For many, this “in-between” time presents an unwelcome transition. So why not make the most of it?
“End of Summer Traditions” can take on as many forms as a family’s imagination and creativity allow. The important point is that like other traditions, such as hosting the Thanksgiving dinner and baking holiday cookies, everyone’s involved. Here are some suggestions to spark ideas:
End of Summer Traditions
1. Plan an end of summer picnic with activities/games that involve everyone and inspire friendly competition. Sit down to a special meal where everyone plans and picks their favorite dishes—and helps cook too. Nothing beats grilling in your own backyard!
2. Go on a family outing to celebrate the end of summer. Depending on your budget and interests, this could range from a movie and ice cream, to a nature hike, zoo or aquarium, a local festival, a family friendly museum, planetarium or your favorite recreation park.
3. Plan a family game night which, depending on the ages of your children, could include an in-home movie, popcorn and build-your-own ice cream sundaes. Make it an all-night pajama party!
4. Break out your sleeping bags for an end of summer camp out! Pitch a tent in your own backyard or build a fort in your family room. Tell ghost stories and serve up campfire-inspired treats.
5. Finish the summer family photo album or scrapbook. Here’s a chance to get crafty with the kids or simply organize your photos and relive the memories of your summer family vacation.
This school year, you may have children entering kindergarten to college and anywhere in-between. So be creative in coming up with your family’s meaningful, end of summer tradition—it will go a long way in not only easing any transition angst your children may be experiencing, but in connecting as a family and creating memories to last a lifetime.
Dr. Mark McKee is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and author of Raising a Successful Child: The Manual. His private practice provides a range of psychological services for children, adolescents and their families, serving the Naperville, Illinois and Chicago-area suburbs since 1992. He enjoys running, gourmet cooking and spending time with his family.