Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer
Dear style & substance:
As you know, school is almost over for the summer. My kids are so excited and I can only secretly think that I am filled with dread. Most mothers act like it is great, but my kids always seem to get bored and mopey. They are 11 and 13 years old. Do you have any ideas about how to make summer better?
Any transition/change usually has excitement, stress and in your case, dread attached to it. We have actually heard this concern from other parents. What we want to add to the question, is how do we make summer a time of growth, fun and peace for the entire family without relying on too much technology, t.v. and “lazy” type activities? Your children are at the in-between age of needing parents to be involved in almost all activities and wanting to do things completely on their own.
As much work as a family meeting/planning session might be, it is a positive way to get ahead of summer issues. Consider these suggestions and see what results you can get with a little thoughtful planning.
What would you like to personally accomplish over the summer, what would your kids like to accomplish and what would your family like to accomplish? Brainstorm in the areas of fun/outdoor activities, creativity, expanding the mind, and also downtime/relaxation. Include vacation plans if you have them or work together to plan a vacation. If a big vacation is not possible, try to go on a mini-vacation, this will serve your family well – we all need to rest and re-energize. “Stay-cation”, the new stay in town vacation, is an inventive term to be off from work, chores and mundane life. It is a more formal approach to the week off, so you plan some real fun instead of “cleaning out the garage” as the highlight!
Think about each child, yourself and your partner and what they really love to do, what they really don’t like to do, and how that fits into the whole family. Your weeks need to be in tune with these preferences, so each will know that there will always be compromise and always a different, more appealing activity to look forward to. If there is something that a child struggles with during the school year, academically, then after a brief break, it may be wise to figure out some new strategies that make the learning either easier or more fun and meaningful. If they really enjoy particular subjects, this would also be the time to really expand their knowledge in a more relaxed way.
We have always found that a little planned activity for every day not only keeps everyone excited, but it is also an incentive to get the chores done and the not so fun upkeep of the house, yard, pets, etc. If there is an overall rhyme and reason to summer activities that somehow pleases everyone, you will find that there is less complaining and more team work.
Set up chores…if they get done while you are at work, then it instantly gives you more time to just enjoy the kids and get them out doing things. Make it easy on yourself, by saying, ‘if the chores aren’t done when we get home from work, there will be no going anywhere’. Don’t badger and question them during the day. Set the expectation and the consequence. Some chores might even be worth some allowance; divvy those up each week and teach them the value of a good work ethic!
So what can the fun be? We mainly prefer all the ‘free’ things to do in this beautiful area. Getting off your home turf regularly seems to energize everyone. That means a trip to the lake to swim, a trip to the park to fly a kite, getting on the bikes for a ride around your area, or join in the many planned free activities our community offers. Fun Runs have become very popular in the North Country and include all ages and abilities. Planting a small garden is a rewarding experience when everyone pitches in.
A planning “recipe” is the key to relaxed fun and a weekly calendar with time frames set aside for types of activities (as simple as “outdoor time” or “summer menu planning”) will definitely help everyone settle in to summertime. Have fun embracing the less hectic schedule, being free of sports and academic deadlines, and just enjoy the sun and outdoors!
A S K
Style & Substance:
Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer
creative life coaching solutions
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