Scenario: Summer


Like Paul Revere riding through the streets of Boston, I have my own declaration to make: “Summer is coming! Summer is coming!”…

For some this statement elicits a joyful smile and for others a stressful sigh. Summer brings its own set of challenges. If our children have been involved in school or other scheduled activities that end during the summer months we have some options:

1. Schedule our kids to participate in every camp available {helloooo gas prices and registration fees!}

2. Leave them to their own devices {I foresee cavities, whining and self-loathing}

3. Find a balance between over-scheduling and simply enduring the long summer days

The third option seems like the most obvious choice, but it can sometimes be the most difficult to create.

In anticipation of the coming summer months, I have a challenge for all of us. We need to compare every activity and opportunity that tries to sneak its way into our calendar against what we think the bigger purpose of our “breaks” can be – especially when it comes to our relationship with our kids.

I truly believe the breaks from our typical schedule (like winter, summer and spring breaks) give us a chance to interact, include and invest in our kids. How we carry out these opportunities will depend on our ability to understand our children and make the most of the time we have with them.

To help us get started, answer the following questions:

1. Thinking of each child, are they a morning or night person?

2. Are your kids naturally drawn to a television or game console or would they rather play outside?

3. Depending on your answer to the 2nd question, are you okay with their natural tendencies when it comes to entertaining themselves? If not, how do you plan on guiding their choices and providing alternatives?

4. If camps and activities are planned, how much energy will your kids have when they return home?

5. Looking at your calendar, are there large blocks of time that need to have structured activities or are your days already filled with events?

Now that you have some direction, let’s make sure that the activities we choose help to grow our relationship with our children instead of creating headaches.

It’s important to plan our activities during a time when our children will be seeking out opportunities to spend their energy. Some kids like to be challenged in the morning, others at night; no matter the chosen time, flexibility is key! If we are wanting a positive interaction with our kids they need to know that we set time aside to be with them and we’re excited to see what they will create.

Don’t plan activities before you have to leave for another event and don’t qualify how long the activity needs to last. Some of them might flop while others succeed beyond our wildest dreams! In an effort to make this summer memorable and filled with joy we have to remember the 3 I’s behind a successful schedule. Anything we plan or create needs to help us Interact, Include and Invest in our children.

INTERACT

Summer days can seem endless. The never-ending, unstructured days can begin to drain our emotional and physical energy. Interacting with our kids should be a fun and relaxing time and for some children and parents they are able to relax and enjoy things more when they have a plan.

To keep our activities enjoyable they need to have a beginning and an end.

When we are interacting with our kids our first goal is to strengthen our relationship, understand each other better, learn how to communicate with each other and how to listen to each other. The end result of our project or activity is secondary and actually doesn’t matter.

Don’t feel pressure to spend a lot of money or create something so unique and spectacular that the neighbor kids ask to be adopted into your family.  Being an amazing game and craft Master is not the goal. You’re doing this for your children and because you answered the above questions, you know what your children will enjoy and what they need – trust yourself and have fun!

Finding activities you enjoy as much as your children do might take time, but be patient and try different options. The level of interaction your child needs depends on their age and how involved the project is. Choose activities that vary in these requirements so your kids feel some freedom to play independently and at other times have a chance to play with you.

INCLUDE

Sometimes we don’t have to plan specific events to interact with our kids during summer. It’s amazing the amount of daily, repetitive responsibilities we can share with our kids if we thought about it a bit differently. Daily chores, trips to the grocery store, even washing dishes and clothes can become activities you do together and in turn help the day become productive and fun. The level of interaction they need from you will depend on the task and their age.

Letting our children feel different fabrics and explore new places of our house is sometimes more fun than a structured activity – it’s all about how we present the opportunity and invite them to feel included in our world. Don’t be afraid to let them help you, even if their “help” doesn’t accomplish very much. Here are some ideas I’ve used with my own children:

“Sock King/Queen” – you are ruler over the Sock Kingdom and all your subjects are trying to hide in my mountain of laundry. Find the socks and throw them into a basket. Once they are in the basket help them find the people who live in their neighborhood (matching socks) and put them in piles together.

“Dust We Must” – by putting socks over their hands and spraying the socks with cleaner I charge them to find every surface that might have dust on it and collect that dust on their sock. The dirtier the sock the more succesful the endeavor.

“Zero Hero” – I ask the boys to make sure the floor of their room has ZERO items on it – whether they stack things on their bed or shove them into the closet, I don’t care. They simply need to move everything off the floor so I can vacuum. The real kicker is that the first person to be ready isn’t always the “winner”. When I finish vacuuming I’m happy to help you put a rug back down or reset your desk chair. Anything that was “shoved” and “piled” somewhere because it was easy and accessible has to now be put away where it belongs. If you’re going to be a Zero Hero you can’t put those items back on the ground – they HAVE to be put away! The boys quickly learned it was better to really clean up BEFORE telling me they were a Zero Hero because the winners were people whose rooms were vacuumed and cleaned with everything put away.

INVEST

Summer is a great time to expose our children to money, social responsibility, world view and what it means to be a life-long learner and citizen in this world. During the summer we try to add certain responsibilities to our boy’s plates. I figure they can handle it since they aren’t giving so much energy and time at school. I also have more time to pay attention to the system we create and follow-through with my part of the deal. Does your family change the amount of responsibilities or how they are carried out during the summer months?

When kids are responsible for getting things done they learn to give back to the family unit.  They understand what it means to take care of the house that keeps them safe, warm and dry.  Let kids paint, sweep, rake or spray surfaces to get them clean and rejoice with them since the entire neighborhood gets to enjoy their hard work!

Community projects, family vacations and summer mission trips are great ways to help our children connect with the world around them. I can’t think of a single family vacation when my parents didn’t incorporate some sort of service project for us to do. Even if it was finding trash and picking it up while at the amusement park – we were always aware of the world around us and our effect on it.

Summer is a time to shape and mold our kids – no matter their age. The days are longer and the opportunities greater to have a positive impact on our children’s lives.

I hope you find some moments to sit down with your calendar and plan some activities for you and your children to enjoy. Start by planning one a week and see how it goes.

Below are some great websites and resources for ideas – have fun and let us know what you discover and how you apply it!

Kasey

Our Daily Craft  Series 1-5 (Lots of Toddler Busy Bag Ideas)

Busy Toddler Book (BEST BOOK EVER!!! I lived out of this book while my guys were growing up – love how it’s organized, and her projects are easy to carry out)

Wonder Time’s Top 12 Summer Activities for Kids

Printables and Crafts for Kids

3 Responses to “Scenario: Summer”


  1. 1 Jill Speicher May 15, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    Thanks! I had just been looking at all the summer camps available and was feeling overwhelmed. You’ve given me ways to prioritize and evaluate how my family will spend the summer, which may NOT include many camps! 🙂

    • 2 Kasey Johnson May 15, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      Jill – thank you so much for leaving such a great comment! I’m glad you found some persepctive and confidence to trust yourself…You’re doing grea! Vist again and let us know what you ended up doing and how you made your choices!

  2. 3 Dustee Hullinger May 14, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    This is wonderful. Congratulations on making a difference in so many moms and children’s lives. May you see spiritual and financial success as you open new doors for so many! I will pass this on to many.
    Dustee Hullinger


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