Welcome back! If you are here for the first time, peek around. Today’s post is geared for parents who find that sudden change in their house when school lets out. If you are not a parent, check back Tuesday when I will discuss summer’s temptations.
We eat more hotdogs in the summer, but we also eat more salads. Well, Jason and I eat more salads. We all eat more ice cream, but we all exercise longer and more often, too.
It is about balance, right?
(as Braedon and Jackson are asking for another snack one hour later)
I say, “What did you have for your last snack? Did you have a fruit yet today?”
(as their reading time for the day ends)
Now with some annoyance, “Don’t tell me you are bored, please find something to do.”
It is truly amazing how the school year comes to a screeching halt.
Then out of nowhere these people that used to be smaller than you are occupying space, your space, for the consecutive twenty-four hour periods of the next ninety something days.
Here’s how “School’s Out” looked in our house:
Last Friday: last day of school
Saturday: went out to lunch
Sunday: went to church
Monday: went to the library with the rest of the community to sign boys up for summer reading program
Tuesday: lazy day, had a family meeting to pin down our structure
Structure for summer?
You can ask my friends, I have relaxed a bit over the last four years. I have Jesus to thank every day, and some friends who have called me out on planning too much (of my kid’s lives).
So, yes to some structure. I find it helps the boys and me with that super elusive word BALANCE.
Because all work and no play … you may as well be the fashion model for Cranky Pants.
All play and no work … chances are you will run out of ideas, energy, and finances.
When Jackson entered second grade, at the first conference of the year, the teacher asked me if we read over the summer.
Yikes, I thought, not sure. In my mom brain, he was just little. I thought the discovery of bugs and playing soccer was important free time.
Since then, each summer I do give our boys reading, writing and math in some capacity to keep skills fresh and to counter the inherent unstructure of the season.
Here are my suggestions for finding a semi-balanced place in the summer where souls can expand and create AND the laundry gets done so your people have clean clothes to wear after swimming and they are not stinky while waiting in line for their ice cream.
1) Read 30-60 minutes a day for everyone in the house.
Isn’t that novel you bought last year still on the shelf? As a mom, I always loved to read to my boys, but neglected reading for myself for too long. I have found new life in books. I can visit places I have never been and see how others manage this crazy life. Just a note, for your kiddos, a reading specialist once told me let them pick what they want to read (obviously within reason) so they enjoy the process. I think her point here was pretty much not to require your summer-jumpy kids to read Anne Frank’s diary…
2) Limit electronic use/screen time for everyone in the house.
Set a timer, so time does not scroll away into the abyss of moments gone forever …
3) Exercise and/or outside time each day.
There’s no doubt summer offers a variety of outdoor options. Just the other day, I loaded their bikes and went to a park early in the morning. This will be the second year in a row we bought a membership to a pool. Whether a pool or nearby lake or beach, God’s water is so life-giving. A friend once told me when she sees the sun reflecting off the lake, she sees an army of angels dancing across the water. Check it out and let me know what you think.
4) Bible, devotional, family prayer time.
When there is more time as a family, set aside time for God, together. Reading a verse and applying it to our life is where I am at with our 10 and 12 year-old boys. As we talk, it helps me know what their questions and other important stuff. How do you incorporate this into your family?
5) One-on-one time.
In our house, we have gone through different seasons of prioritizing couple time and parent-son “dates”. A couple years ago in the Fall, my husband and I went on hiking adventures when he was off during the week and the kids were at school. We are looking forward to revisiting this coming Fall. Until then, in this season of summer, we will need to steal away at least one overnight alone and some dinner dates. In terms of spending quality time with each kid in your house, I used to structure and schedule this. Somehow the rigidity stole its beauty. So far this summer, I have enjoyed two walks with Jackson when he was bike riding and I was walking. So cute that he tempered his speed so we could talk together as we made our way through the neighborhood. Sweet and unscheduled:
Embrace the lackadaisical times (thank you for giving me an opportunity to use that fun word) the rainy afternoon movies, the late-night Monopoly games, the all-day lake adventure where nobody cares what time it is or who posted on Facebook, the blank canvas to paint or draw, the open sky to name cloud shapes ……
Enjoy your MORE summer moments, this natural time when we are MORE together. I would love to hear about them!
If you can think of another parent who could use just a little support to inspire the family summer, please share. I realize I am not sharing completely unique ideas here, but in the past with depression and general angst, it was extremely helpful to hear how others managed things. Those of us in difficult seasons of our lives often don’t have the energy to think of structure, plans, ways to make things more smooth.
Have a blessed day
Final note: if you are someone who feels a mood-lift with short faith posts, I invite you to like and follow my Facebook page: https://Facebook.com/jdibble4Him. At least 5 times per week, I post encouragement for your day. When you follow to see it first, you will get a notification so that you can click and see when you have time!