Surviving Summer Week 2: Keep the Structure

Last week we talked about Surviving Summer: Things to Do. This week I wanted to share my second survival tip- one that I have continually worked to hone and yet still have not mastered. Although I typically like living in the world of possibilities, waking up and seeing where the day leads, over the years, I have learned to adjust because I understand my children need structure. With that being said…

Keep the Structure!  

Kids that have a history of trauma tend to thrive in structure.  They like the security in knowing what to expect and being able to plan accordingly. Structure, consistency, and support have all played a key role in meeting our kids’ needs and keeping our sanity. Keeping the structure does not mean that you cannot build in moments of fun and unpredictability, it just means that you choose to give them a skeletal frame in which they can operate their day. Vacations, day trips and outings, camps, etc. can disrupt consistency, schedule, and structure in the summer more so than any other time of the year. What I have found to be key for me is identifying those things that cause regulation issues, keeping what structure I can throughout the extra activity, and finding time in between to re-regulate. We try to be very careful to not over-schedule summer activities so that we allow those breaks to regulate.  Here are some things we use in our house (you can even consider having your kids participate in structuring their day):

  • Meal time- schedule when they can expect to eat (food tends to be a huge issue for kids that have gone through trauma)
  • Chore time- what they can do to earn money and what they help with just because they are a part of the family
  • School Time- whether through books or hands on learning fun
  • Play Time- crafts, imaginative play, etc.
  • Quiet time- we use this for reading and individual time
  • Bed time- we extend their bedtime in the summer but we stay consistent with having a bedtime so that they still get a good night’s rest.

When all else fails, I just tell myself to just keep swimming!


Kim Vehon

Founder/CEO Foster Arizona

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