Summer Break is coming!
For some parents this is an exciting time. You look forward to hanging out with your kids, having a more flexible schedule, and getting to travel.
For others, the thought of having your kids home full time and the lack of structure strikes terror in your hearts!
I am very much a parent who looks forward to not having to get up super early to pack lunches and send my kids off to school every morning. I’m also looking for a break from the hours I spend in my car driving to multiple activities after school and on the weekends. However, I am anticipating a lot of together time which can occasionally lead to fighting, messes and sibling squabbles. Ugh!
So what can you do?
Be intentional. Take a few moments, maybe before the kids get out of school, and think about what it is that you want for this summer. What do you want for your family? What do you want for your child(ren)? What do you want for you?
By thinking about what you want, you will be able to lay out a game plan for the summer. Here are a few of the things I have planned that might help you get intentional about your summer. Feel free to check in with me at the end of the summer to see if I actually accomplished these goals and had an intentional summer!
Bucket List: By creating a Bucket List, I will get input from everyone in the family as to what is important to them to make this feel like a great summer. I anticipate some of these items being big (travel, amusement parks, camping) while other items can be quite simple yet meaningful quality time (picnic lunch, paint toenails, eat s’mores). One of the things my family is great at doing is brainstorming. I will have to be careful not to put too much on our Bucket List. I want this to be a fun and enjoyable summer, not a stressful one.
Free Time: I want my kids to be creative and use their imagination. This means, I want them off electronics, so they can be out exploring and creating. I plan to create a “Before Screen Time Activities” List (see next week’s blog where I will provide you with my list and examples). One of the things on this list will be 30+ minutes of creativity each day. Are you sensing a theme here? I happen to be a list person…
Responsibility: I am a big believer in teaching kids to grow into responsible adults. All kids can and should do chores to learn how to be successful in life. By teaching kids how to do chores, they learn responsibility and life skills. These chores can become habits that will continue on through the school year reducing mom and dad’s workload (=stress levels) and allow us to have more family time together. Daily and Weekly chores will be added to the “Before Screen Time Activities” List.
Together Time (also known as Quality Family Time): I’m looking forward to more game nights! During the summer, we are not rushing in 100 directions after school and on the weekends. We’re able to spend more time together. For us, playing board games is a fun way to do this. We’ve also spent time hanging out reading together outside, going for hikes, and volunteering together. I’m going to look at our Bucket List and try to make sure we have at least one “Together Time” activity each week.
Special Time (also known as Quality Parent-Child Time): Spending One-on-One time with each of your children is priceless. I know this can seem challenging when you have a lot of kids, and especially during the school year when you are running in multiple directions at once. However, summer is a great time to schedule One-on-One time with your kids. Really take time to get to know them at this age. What do they love? Is something bothering them right now? What are they successful at doing? Is there something they are struggling with and how can you help guide them to overcome this struggle? What is a special trait they want to work on (courage, kindness, self-discipline)? What dreams do they have?
My daughters will be going to different camps this summer, so I anticipate a full week with each of them as “only” children. I hope to fill those with a lot of Mother-Daughter Special time. Looking at our Bucket List, I plan to pick one bigger activity and a few smaller ones (cooking a meal together, walking the dog) with each daughter during her week. We will definitely aim to spend Special Time together at least once a week throughout the summer, not just during the “only child” week.
Me Time: I saved this for last because it can often be the hardest one for me to do, but I need to, and so do you. Self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity for us to be good mothers, good partners, and good citizens in this world. By taking care of me, I can fill up my emotional, mental, spiritual and physical ‘bank accounts’ and be better able to take care of others. By taking care of me, I am modeling self-care for my daughters. I would like this to become a necessary part of their beings, not something they struggle to squeeze in or feel guilty doing.
I’m sure that some of my Me Time might include my daughters directly or indirectly. If I plan a lunch date with a friend, we might have our kids in tow and let them sit at a nearby table. If I’m wanting a pamper session, I might invite my daughters on the back porch to paint nails or make fruity facials. However, I will get to pick the music, it is my Me Time after all! Some of my Me Time activities will be just for me (solo or date night with my husband or a girls night out).
There you have it! My intentional summer game plan outlined above. The one thing I didn’t mention is that once my family has created our Bucket List, I will take all of those ideas and anything else I have (Free Time, Together Time, etc.) and start putting them on the calendar.
I know some of you are saying that you love the flexibility and looseness of summer and can’t wait to ignore your calendars for a few months. For me, and for many of the families I have worked with, scheduling things makes the summer easier. There is a better chance that we will realize our intentions if we put them on the calendar. We’ll still have the flexibility to change things as needed, but if it’s on the calendar, it is more likely to happen.
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