Avoiding Summer Weight Gain
Summer can be a difficult time for working moms, special needs moms and especially for parents of children with HO. Figuring how to keep your child busy and keep the focus off food is one of the biggest sources of anxiety for parents of children with HO. Summer can be a wonderfully lazy time, however too much free time can cause issues. Keeping our children busy over the summer is key to keeping the focus off food.
Tips to Avoid Weight Gain during Summer
Here are some ideas that have helped me keep us keep the focus off food over the summer:
- Hire a sitter for a few hours each day. It’s amazing how when my child is left to his own “devices” (pardon the pun) he ends up spending the entire day on his device; and eating. I have found that even if I plan to be home working, having a sitter to engage him in board games, art, field trips, summer reading, odd jobs and even a little exercise helps to keep his mind off food. Mother’s helpers and tweens can do this too. If your child has special needs, try to find a grad student, maybe a nursing, child life, or speech therapy major, who needs a summer job. They usually make the best summer nannies!
- Day with grandma or grandpa. Though not all parents have this option, if you do, take advantage and ask the grandparents take your child to a movie, bookstore, or even to their house for a change of scenery a few hours a week.
- Classes and camps. Summer camps are often not ideal or even possible for older children and “out of the box” children. However, art classes, summer school classes, music classes, swim lessons and computer classes, even for just one or two hours a day can lend structure to the day and take the focus off food for a while.
- Create jobs for your child. Offer to pay them $5-10 to help you out by cleaning the yard, weeding the garden, watering plants, taking out the trash, etc.
- Odd jobs. Finding odd jobs within the neighborhood both empowers our children and gives them something to do. Post in your neighborhood Facebook group or ask your friends if they need their mail picked up, their pets fed and played with, walked, or need help cleaning out their garage. If the job seems above your child’s skill set, go with them and do it together. One day they will be able to do it on their own!
- Swimming. If you have access to a pool, get your kids in there every day. It’s fun and good exercise.
- Device time. Okay, so as much as the devices terrify me, an hour or even two a day during the summer for sure keeps my son occupied and keeps his mind off food
Out of the Box Ideas
- Social skills groups. Many speech language pathologists and even some child psychologists offer social skills groups. If you can find one that meets a few times a week for a few hours, it’s a win-win!!!
- Charity camps or charity work. I have seen camps popping up in both the religious sector and in the private school camp sector that are literally all about doing charity work. What a great way to keep our children busy by helping others less fortunate.
- Big Brother/Big Sister-type programs. My child has a “buddy” through a religious organization that pairs children with special needs with a teenage “buddy” who comes over once a week and hangs out him for an hour or so. This program has been such a gift! When he is a little older, he will get to be a “buddy” to a younger child too and pay it forward!