School is out, the weather is warming up and for teens and parents who are trying to figure out what to do with the unstructured time, there can be pressure, anxiety and sometimes downright panic. 

It’s a different challenge depending on the age range of the kids, as parents know. Once you figure out what summer looks like for a toddler, the next summer they are preschool age, and the next they are elementary age, and before you know it, they are teenagers! 

So, what are options for stay-at-home parents and for parents who work outside of the home? There are a few options now that California is “open again.” The city of Carpinteria and some independent organizations have a few options for part-day summer camps. For more budget-friendly options, we can help at Carpinteria Children’s Project!

CCP will host a bike camp for children 10-14 years old. This week-long program is offered for a low cost and scholarships are available. We will also be offering an eight-week summer program for children who are 4-5 years old at our Canalino site beginning on June 14, but you can join anytime. Our community partners have summer care options too, so look at Girls Inc., Boys & Girls Club and the local library for their summer programs as well.

Additionally, we’re sharing some tips on how to keep your children busy and you sane. Summer is a time when parents have to put some structure into the day for kids of all ages, and sometimes, this means that we as parents have to change our usual behaviors and routines as well. 


Limit screen time 

Keep in mind the amount of screen time kids have had in the past 18 months. And as parents, the amount of time we have had. Now is the time to limit that. You can start by making sure when the workday is done the screen devices go away or set screen time limits on phones. This time can become the time to connect with one another. Pick small activities to do as a family. Take a walk around the neighborhood, to the local park or to the beach. 


Keep a routine

It’s not going to be the school routine, but it is a routine. Keep the bedtime consistent for the little ones. It is still very important to have the children get between nine and 11 – it’s longer for little ones! – hours of sleep a night. There might be a night or two when this doesn’t work, but don’t make it a habit to keep kids up past bedtime frequently during the summer. Keep mealtimes consistent and keep meals healthy. A healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner paced throughout the day will prevent over-snacking on unhealthy foods. Keep fruit and vegetables available and within sight of the kids. Stock up on those they like and add some for the adults in the house too. If you know the afternoon will include treats at a gathering, limit the amount of sugar kids eat during breakfast and snack times.


Find connection

This summer, more than ever, it’s a good time to connect or reconnect with neighbors, friends and family. Remember to connect with the parents of the kids your kids are hanging around with. Have an honest conversation about what your family rules are and what your expectations are for your kids. It might feel odd at first sharing your rules, but it also might be nicer to find like-minded parents who will help your child understand that your family rules are similar to other families, so the child or teen can stop thinking you are the worst parent in the world when it comes to screen time or no sodas for kids!


Enjoy yourself

And finally, enjoy the family time and carve out some time for yourself to reflect on how far you’ve come as a parent, and to prepare yourself and your family for continued growth and perseverance. No doubt, it’ll help renew and strengthen you on this parenting journey! 




Teresa Alvarez is the interim executive director of the Carpinteria Children’s Project. She has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit field and a passion for helping children and families. Teresa was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and moved to the U.S. with her parents at age two. Growing up as an undocumented student, she learned the importance of having mentors, a strong work ethic and the value of education. Teresa holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from UCSB and a master’s degree in Psychology from Antioch Santa Barbara. She currently serves on the First 5 Santa Barbara Commission, is the Board Chair for Future Leaders of America, and a founding member of the Santa Barbara Latino Giving Circle. Teresa loves to travel, read and chase after her two boys.

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