Original article by Bette Holtzman
As the days grow longer, the weather gets warmer. While the sun lingers a bit more each day, have you noticed your children becoming listless and excited at the same time? They’ve probably caught spring fever— and the feeling is contagious.
The best treatment for spring fever is to ease into the season by maintaining your family’s routines as much as possible. And, if your son gets restless, let him “chill” by relaxing, reading a book, watching a classic video or just daydreaming on the couch. If your daughter gets antsy and tired of being cooped up, let her play outdoors, rain or shine.
You know that homework and chores still have to get done, and they will. Keep reading for helpful tips that address some of the joys and challenges affecting kids come springtime.
Spring brings so many changes, especially the weather. As it gets warmer, kids of all ages want to be outside more often. But, cool mornings, warmer afternoons and those April showers make dressing children a challenge. Particularly on weekends, before a Saturday soccer game or a Sunday spent at the park, it’s a good idea to dress children in layers— and don’t forget the sunscreen. In fact, spring serves as a great time to get children into the sunscreen habit. Try to make sun protection fun. We used to do “the lotion motion” dance at our house, putting on sunblock as we sang songs and did lots of shaking. Giving an inexpensive pair of sunglasses to each child makes the kids feel cool as they head outdoors.
Kids also love playing in the rain, as long as they are not too cold. There are lots of whimsical raincoats, umbrellas and rain boots to purchase that are stylish to wear and totally functional.
Everything seems to grow during springtime, including the kids. You’re not imagining it; children really do have growth spurts in the spring. This leads to the necessary, but decidedly not fun, chore of figuring out what clothes still fit whom. Because most kids have little tolerance for trying on clothes, the job of clothing matchmaker is best accomplished by doling out small tasks and rewards. Say something like, “We’ll go outside to play after you’ve tried on these two pairs of jeans.”
Be mindful that some children in your family may have started developing a sense of style in the past year, or have definite clothing preferences. Allow some flexibility to complement this developing sense of autonomy. And ensure your children have a spring wardrobe that will endure through the chilly days of spring and the first dog days of summer.
If you don’t have a growth chart in your home, consider posting one. You can buy a fun chart or simply designate a spot on a wall where your children can see the markings. Big kids love to see how big they are, and little kids love to see how close to the big kids they are getting.
With greenery and bright colors popping up throughout local towns, spring is also a great time to plant flowers with the kids. Whether you’re filling a flowerpot in an apartment, planting a window box outside your home or planning a sprawling garden where the kids will love to play in the dirt, gardening offers children a chance to interact with nature and an entertaining science lesson as they control the environment and see how things grow. Remember, getting dirty is part of the experience.
What are you pedaling? Whether your child rides in a trailer attached to an adult bike, has a tricycle, uses training wheels or maneuvers a mountain bike, he or she is going to want to ride bikes as the weather gets warmer. However, before you get out the bicycles, check the size and condition of your child’s helmet. This is extremely important. The helmet should not be too big or too small. It should cover the forehead, and the straps should be fastened so that the helmet fits snugly. Helmets should not have big dents or torn padding.
Parents who bike with their kids must also wear helmets— for safety and to model cautious behavior. Once the helmets approved for safety, check the family bicycles for size and fit. Put air in the tires and maybe spruce up the bikes. A new bell or handlebar streamers add to the appeal of bikes, as do playing cards clipped to the bike spokes, which make noise as the tires spin. How about a family bike ride this weekend?
If it’s spring, the time is right for garage sales. Because spring cleaning goes hand-in-hand with the season, a garage sale with merchandise cleared from the house makes cleaning a special seasonal affair for the family. Whereas children don’t typically like the cleaning aspect of spring cleaning, they love garage sales.
Try giving the kids a table or blanket to sell their gently used toys and books that they are willing to part with. Children are more inclined to tidy their rooms and designate items for sale if they are allowed to keep the money earned from their tables— or earn money for watching a younger sibling during the garage sale. Kids can also organize a lemonade or cookie stand at the garage sale. This enhances the festive atmosphere of the occasion.
In addition, a group of neighbors may want to coordinate a block sale, which usually increases the number of visitors. The downside to this is that children will want to check out the neighbors’ stuff and use their earnings to bring home as much “new” stuff as they got rid of.
For families that live in apartments, garage sales may pose a challenge. Check with the building manager about what type of sale your family may host, or explore your online sale options, such as posting gently used items on Craigslist or Ebay. Lastly, consider donating items to a local shelter or charity.
Remember, spring fever is not an illness; it’s something to be embraced. If you keep things structured, entertaining and developmentally appropriate, then your children will move with the changing seasons and maintain responsibilities at home, school and wherever else springtime pursuits take them.