“The days are long and the years are short,” a friend recently reminded me regarding raising children. The days really are longer in the summertime. As June comes to a close, I hope you are enjoying summer, making the most of it with your kids and wishing the days would not end. I know, however, that some of you are wishing school was back in session, routines were normalized and that bedtime would come sooner rather than later. I recently recognized that I was in the latter of these two categories when the babysitter came over, and I felt overjoyed to get out by myself to go to the…dentist. Who wants to go to the dentist? This was a first for me!
If you find yourself looking at the clock and waiting for your kids to go down for the night or flying out the door when the babysitter comes, then it is time for a “rewind and redo” to make the most of this summer, the way you intentioned it to be. There are ways we can combat feelings of weariness, burnout, and defeat while still allowing ourselves time to recharge. First, rewind and reflect on what you hoped to get out of this summer. What did you want to do with your kids? Are you enjoying it? If you are struggling, now is a great time for a “redo;” there is plenty of time to take back the reins of summer.
Do what works best for your family
Think about what you envisioned for you and your family this summer. What has worked and what has not? On the days that I am home with my little ones, it helps to have a morning and afternoon activity planned, one that is well liked and one that is an area of growth. This structure helps the day go by and gives more purpose. If you find yourself getting frustrated and upset, regroup and try again. If you are feeling this way more days than not, consider taking time to pour back into yourself. This could be waking up fifteen minutes early to enjoy a cup of coffee uninterrupted, going for a walk before the kids wake up, or having a devotional.
Your child is fairly certain to act like a child, which means someone who is still learning, has different priorities than you do, and can’t always manage her feelings or actions. Her childish behavior is guaranteed, at times, to push your buttons. The problem is when we begin acting like a child, too. Dr. Laura Markham author of Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids
Acting like a child can be a lot easier than acting like an adult. It is more tempting to act like a child when we do not feel in charge of our household. How can you restructure this week to feel a little more on top of things and a little less stressed?
Connect with your kids
Every child, babies to teenagers, need connection. Do your best to have one on one time with each kid in your family each week. Get their input on what they may like to do with you. Here are some ideas if you get stuck.
Ways to connect this summer
|Babies to Elementary School Kids||Middle and High School|
|Pool time||Art project|
|Splash pad||Home improvement project|
|Backyard water fun||Learn a new skill|
|Library outing||Pool time|
|Museum outing||Shopping trip|
|Art project||Play a sport/Exercise|
|Board game||Board game|
|Indoor play area||Cook together|
|Movie night||Movie night|
Use the summertime to work on a goal or value
The summertime can be less stressful for school aged kids without the day-to-day academic and social pressures. Some of your little ones are not spending time in mother’s day out programs over the summer and have more time with you. As you are connecting with your kids, consider an area of growth for them. What area do you need to coach? Manners? Social skills? Impulse control? Emotion regulation? What value or character quality do you want them to exude more of? Empathy? Gratitude? Contentment? Talk about it with them. Give them opportunities to practice. Affirm them when you see them working to meet their goal or demonstrating a value.
As you are being intentional with your child this summer, I cannot say enough about serving/volunteering together. There is power in this shared experience. Altruistic endeavors such as serving or volunteering together can foster gratitude, empathy, sense of purpose, and less self-centeredness. It is never too early to start.
One more thought
When you find yourself looking at that clock again, remember you are not alone in parenting. Each day is a new opportunity. Yesterday’s arguments and accidents do not have to spill over into today. I often reflect on this verse to feel refreshed and have hope in a new day.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Markham, L. (2012) Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. New York: Perigree Press.
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