For many, summer is a season to relax and chill out. Most people spend their time off with family. But is it possible to be a parent and actually have some relaxation time? I say, YES!!

The easiest way to achieve this goal is to take steps early on that encourage independence in your children. This includes everything from sleeping, to feeding, to playtime. Kids actually feel empowered being left to their own devices without mom and dad hovering over them every second. Unstructured independent play fosters self-expression and creativity. And let’s not forget about the added the bonus for parents- it naturally results in more time for you to sit back, relax, and enjoy some adult time.

SLEEP
From as early as 4 months old, most babies can learn to fall asleep on their own without being rocked or held by you. Getting into the habit of putting your child down awake and encouraging her to fall asleep without your presence will also help your child fall back asleep unattended should she awaken during the night. I know all parents, including myself, treasure those moments watching our children drift off to sleep in our arms, but in the long-run, having a child who knows how to fall asleep on her own and also get back to sleep is an added perk! It also means that on a lazy summer day, you can take a snooze while your child is napping without spending unnecessary time getting her to fall sleep.

FEEDING
Between 4 and 6 months of old most babies can start holding their bottles on their own and by 10 months most babies begin self-feeding finger foods. Let them do this! It will result in a toddler who can feed himself thereby freeing up more time for you during the meal. It also gives your child a great sense of accomplishment. You will often hear that proud exclamation, “Look I did it all by myself!”
While you should always attend to your child during mealtime (especially to monitor for choking), a child who self feeds will enable you to actually join the family at the table. And perhaps afterwards you can relax and enjoy the warm summer air together as a family.

PLAYTIME
In this fast paced digital world we live in, it’s getting harder to allow children unstructured free time to play and explore. The old saying, “Go out and play” doesn’t exist as it did in the past, and children are much more plugged in to digital devices and have parents who entertain their children whenever asked.
My advice from the start is to allow your children to engage in creative play on their own. You can monitor from afar to insure their safety, but you don’t have to be jumping through hoops to entertain them every minute or offer a long list of suggestions to prevent them from being bored. Guide your children to come up with their own ideas, and then you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the day!