Summer break is upon us! For some, this is the good news. For some it is the daunting or overwhelming truth. And for many, it can be an odd combination of the two! It can be great fun to have our children home for more time and have unique opportunities for special time spent together that the school year doesn’t allow. It can also be a time of high stress as we seek to make the most of these moments but finding a lack of time, money, or energy!
I personally get quite excited when summer break arrives. My personality thrives on relationships and time spent together, and I love to have longer days for activities with my kids. But I am also aware that for a personality that highly values peace and rest, we can be just minutes into summer break and reality hits. With nine people in our home, we are going to have times where there is chaos, frustration, and lack of anything that resembles peace or rest!! So, it helps me to go into summer with some realistic expectations of our time spent together.
I would like to suggest three simple things you can do to make your summer go more smoothly. These are practical things we do in our home to limit the stress and frustration and increase the fun and enjoyment. Feel free to use these ideas or adjust them to fit your family’s needs.
1. Create a summer to do list.
The first thing we do when the kids get home, on the very last day of school, is to make our summer fun lists. Each child makes a list of ten things they would like or hope to do over the summer. They may list things they want to do by themselves, with someone in particular, or as a family. They may write places they want to eat, visit, or tour. They may include people they want to see or have over. The lists are kept pretty simple and straightforward. They don’t take long to make, but serve a great purpose in helping kids focus on what really matters to them. These lists have actually been a lifesaver to me as well. You see, in my mind I am always trying to think of fun (and sometimes a bit too grandiose) things we can do as a family and often times, stressing about the amount of money, time, or effort it may take to pull it off. After making these lists a couple of summers, I quickly realized that the kids were completely satisfied with less than I imagined. And that was good news! They were putting things like make cotton ball sheep (simply cotton balls on a piece of paper and drawing sheep), make brownies with mom, do breakfast club (breakfast at the donut shop in our jammies), eat at Chick-fil-a, go to a baseball game, go on a date with mom, jump on the tramp with my sister, camp with my older brothers, etc. The majority of things felt very manageable and affordable. Yet these were the very things that mattered most to them! We make sure that everyone knows we can’t promise that everything will get done, but we can at least have a list to work from. We usually get everything accomplished, but feel it is important to be reasonable and ready to accept it if we are not able. The kids have had great fun with the lists, and I have to admit…I have too! Take some time to get some focus on your summer. A game plan will keep you from tiring yourself and still missing the mark!
2. Make a simple summer schedule.
How is it that the days can seem incredibly long, yet there are times that a day flies by and you have accomplished nothing? Seems odd that you can feel both of those at the same time! But you can! We have helped our family greatly in having just a simple schedule for our days. The times are quite loosely planned, but they can at least help us to shoot for particular activities and help us avoid wasting away days with nothing but electronics. And this is where you need to think about the individual personalities of your family and what works best for you. Personally, I always think a plan sounds good, but I don’t want to be tied to something. I want to be able to have some flexibility and be able to change my mind. I have a couple kids that work best with structure and schedule. They like to know what to expect and how it will all unfold. I have others that need to feel like time can flow and not be tied to doing something they aren’t up for. Understand what your children need and then make your schedule reflect that. I have a powerful child that struggles to accept a schedule that is not his idea. So, we made an agreement that this would be our rough schedule. If there was a day he’s wanting to do electronics at another time or outside play at another time, all he has to do is ask. And we will work it out. From that point, there has been no struggle. Make your schedule as flexible or detailed as you choose. You can view a copy of our family Summer Schedule here.
3. Learn the art of understanding your child.
After doing the two things mentioned above, it may become clear to you what your child is needing. You may get a picture of what matters most to your child. Do they value time spent together or alone? Do they want simple play to unfold at home or do they see big plans out and about? Do they have specific goals in mind or are do they prefer the spontaneous? Are they relationship focused or task focused? Listen and look for the clues that will help you understand your child. If this doesn’t feel very easy, you may prefer the help of a simple resource, such as The You Zoo book. This book can help you figure out your child’s personality and give you some tips on how your personality and theirs can work better together. Consider getting some new perspectives on them as well as yourself! Visit TheYouZoo.com to find out more about this practical tool to understanding your child. This interactive children’s personality assessment and parenting resource may bring a whole new level to your summer enjoyment and your relationship with your child!
These three simple ideas can be motivating. They can help you get a fresh perspective, a focused purpose, and a fun plan! These three simple ideas help you find ways to meet the individual needs of your children, since their personalities and desires can be so varied. These three simple ideas can totally change your summer! More importantly, as you learn what your child really desires, how they feel, and what makes them tick…you will transform your relationship with them!Take your summer and your relationship to a whole new level!
Stay tuned in the coming weeks to get more ideas for summer! If you would like our list of 150 Summer Fun Things to Learn and Do, visit JamiKirkbride.com and sign up in the top left corner for the newsletter! This list of ideas is sparking great fun and excitement in our house this year, and we would love to share it with you!