Saturday, May 20, 2017

Enjoying Summer with Your Children

It’s here! Summer celebrations are well under way! Sunshine, vacations, camps, swimming, and family memories have taken the place of school and extra-curricular activities. This time of the year is a unique time of having fun and having free-time for a child. But did you know this can also be a time to make progress in some unique and valuable areas of your child’s life? The weeks of summer can be an ideal for investing in the minds and hearts of your children in ways that the rest of the year may not allow.

               It seems for our family, there isn’t time to do some of the meaningful things we want to do throughout the year that I know my children need. So, I decided we would use the summer to do some things the rest of the year doesn’t allow for due to time. In addition, children are more open to doing things together in summer as there aren’t as many distractions from outside obligations and school needs that crowd their minds.

As you plan out the next 10 weeks or so of your child’s break, consider utilizing time during each day or at least a few times a week to do things that build the child internally. Move into a purpose-driven mindset that makes the best of the extra hours available. These days are gifts to parents as the children are looking for places and people to put their time and energy. This is a unique window of opportunity to guide them in fun yet productive activities. 

Plus, a bonus is that is can also help alleviate summer-time boredom that can lend itself to whiny, lazy, fussy kids that can get into mischief. (Not your kids, of course, but perhaps some kids you know?!)

               There may only be one or two things you will want to choose but if you do that over the years of summer time, by the age the kids leave home you would have accomplished much! The point is to choose things that make the most of the time given.

  1. Choose one book to read aloud and discuss what can be learned from it. Or have the children read on their own and tell you about it over dinner or during a car ride. The important thing is to choose a book that instills values or principles that benefit the child.  
  2. Plant a garden. Even wildflowers can be fun to grow if other flowers or food seems like too much to handle. A garden can teach the value of living things, patience, nurture, and the celebration of growth from something small to full maturity.
  3. Take a morning or evening walk. Listen to nature, stop and take note of neighbors you haven’t had time to interact with, or just chat casually as things come up. For those with little ones, use the stroller so you aren’t in work-mode as you chase tiny tricycles or carry toddlers.
  4. Learn a foreign language. Since there aren’t other subjects filling their minds or calling for homework, a new language or adding to one each summer can be fun for kids, especially if you use the right program or app.
  5. Write letters to relatives or distant friends. Perhaps there are grandparents or great-aunts and uncles, or former school friends and neighbors that don’t get time to see your child that would enjoy a handwritten, personalized card in the mail.
  6. Volunteer at a local organization that could use some help or encouragement. This could be as simple as asking your church, community center or foster care organization if they need any  help with a one-time project or as committed as having your teen assist weekly with a family of many children just to give the mom a breather without having to pay.
  7. Teach homemaking. Most kids know how to unload a dish washer or sweep a floor, but what about teaching (or perhaps learning together) how to build a shelf, organize a garage, change the oil, balance a checkbook, paint a room, sew a button, cook a new meal, or prepare for a yard sale ect. Most likely as parents we would do these on our own but kids and teens would enjoy learning these type things and will be able to use the skills later in life. 
  8. Nurture a new pet. Having a pet can be enjoyable to watch as well as teach responsibility. It could be as easy as a fish (our personal favorite) or as engaging as a new puppy. The summer allows for time to learn how to handle the new addition and set some habits of care into place before school starts back.
  9. Invest in others. All around us there are people who are in need of a caring relationship. Whether it’s a sick neighbor, an elderly person at the nursing home, a special-needs child from school, a family that just moved to town, a young mom with a new baby, or a foster teenager that is aging out of the system, taking time to call, enjoy a meal, give a gift, run errands or take somewhere can be just the encouragement they need. Summer is a wonderful season for relationships.  
  10. Build Character. The relaxed times of summer can lead to some of the greatest conversations about decision-making, friends, media, life direction, sibling love, peer pressure ect. There may even be some personal goals such as boundaries with food, being mature in proper settings, talking with an “inside voice”, building self-esteem or other skills that your child needs to learn but there hasn’t been the opportunity. These weeks are ideal for readjusting behaviors and teaching your insights for life character traits.

Enjoy these days! Even if you have to forget every idea listed above and just have no agenda or maybe have a chaotic crazy summer, take in those extra mama moments! Make some lemonade and embrace these few weeks doing whatever it is you want to do while you have some extra moments to invest in their hearts and minds!

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