School’s officially out for the summer. While for kids that means three months of freedom, for parents it can mean a lot more mayhem. When family bonding can make all of you stir crazy, many parents opt to send their kids to summer camp. While the length and type of camps can endlessly vary, the most common ones are weekly sleep-away camps. For some kids, this camp is a welcome break from everyday summer life (especially the pre-teens), but for youngsters and first time camp goers, sleeping in a strange place can be unexpectedly overwhelming and stressful. Stanford University has come up with some tips on making sure your child adjusts to sleep-away camp this summer.
Prior to Camp
Make sure you do your research on finding the camp that’s right for you and your child. When you’ve found a camp they’re interested in, contact the camp counselors to get a better idea of what a typical day would be like for your child at camp. Also, try to speak with other parents who’ve had experiences with the camp in the past. Getting opinions from other moms will make you feel at ease when packing up your little one for the week.
Have your child do a “test run” to prepare them for sleep-away camp by sending them to a friend’s house or grandma’s for a night or weekend for a sleepover. This will allow them to spend some time away from you while still being in a comfortable environment.
Give your child a general idea of the schedule and daily routine at camp each day. This will give the reassurance and help them to know what to expect for the week.
One of the most comforting things to have when away from home are items that make us feel like home. Pack your child’s pillow or other articles from his or her bed along with one of their favorite trinkets from home. Being able to sleep on their own pillow in a foreign place can help a child continue to have regular sleeping patterns.
While communication is important when your child’s away, try to limit conversations to once a day, preferably at the end of the day so they can fill you in on all of the activities and fun they had at camp all day. Hearing your voice before settling in for the night will give them a sense of comfort and familiarity that will help them sleep better, (at least before the pillow fights start).
When your child comes home from camp, make sure they know how much you missed them. Make their favorite dinner and/or dessert and make sure they come home to a clean room and a freshly made bed. There’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed after spending time away from home, no matter how old you are.
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