Whose summer do you plan first? Yours or your children’s?? I am not suggesting that one should be first, but that typically as parents we tend to do everything we can to sacrifice for our children. There comes a time, however for fabulous role modeling, that you show your children that you as the adult and your relationship with your spouse or significant other truly is the most important relationship to nurture. Children see your actions and behavior and will in the long run, strive to have that type of family life in the future. REMOVE THE GUILT!!
Some parents who continue to work their 9-5 plus during the summer feel guilty that they can’t have those lazy days of summer doing the “50 best summer activities” during the school break a la going to the beach with groups of moms and kids and creating those crafty projects at home that Rosie and Martha promote. Other parents who ARE home with their kids feel guilty because their children won’t get out of bed before noon by week 2 of summer, they complain about being bored, and you are sick and tired of a totally trashed house.
With three months of summer, proper planning can afford you and your children a fulfilling 25% of their yearly life. Embrace summer but you really do have to plan accordingly. Here are a few tips for breaking free from the summer parent trap.
1. Perspective. Any plan for the summer is probably significantly better than the days of yore. Healthy family, healthy environment, food on the table, love in the household…. yes thank you!! All is well.
2. Teachable Moments. Three months of summer is a great deal of time in which you can teach your children everything from athletic, academic and/or creative skills; time management and exploration i.e. what to do with free time; responsibility and giving back; teamwork and so much more. Some can be done within the household and some in structured programs outside of the house.
3. Intention. Much of our dissatisfaction, frustration and guilt comes from falling into summer (you know who you are) instead of really putting our focus on what we want summer to be like and why. First think about what you want your summer to look like. Then speak with the other adult in the house. Once you have your summer desires identified, plan the big picture for your children and teens. Bring them into decision making when you can propose Option A or Option B…. AND be content with either choice.
4. Quality time. When you are together as a family, allow yourself to remove the outside distractions and just enjoy the laid back feeling of summer. Summer is a great time to be “off task”. Just “hanging” out for short bursts of time can be so much fun and energizing. There is a time to accomplish and a time to just “be”. I love short, high-quality activities without using the time to check in with your child about how they’re progressing on a project or skill.
5. Variation. Summer has no specific appearance. It gets to be what you want it to be and it can be many things. It can be family vacation for a week or two, it can be sleep away camp or pre-college programs for the kids, AND it can be hanging out at home with absolutely no plans whatsoever.
There are 59 days left till the end of the school year in South Florida. Don’t fall into summer. Plan and enjoy it to the max!
Karen Meister, in partnership with Joanne Paltrowitz, works with the international consulting firm, Camp Experts and Teen Summers. Feel free to contact Karen for complimentary assistance at Karen@CampExperts.com or 305.931.KiDS or 305.931.5437. Thousands of families have received confidential and complimentary guidance to select the best camp and teen programs from around the world. Karen is also the Founder of the LifeMeisters.