Now that summer is in full swing, I’m guessing most mothers already have a game plan in place for the upcoming months. But before you fill your calendar to overflowing with every summer camp available, I have a few thoughts that I hope will get you excited about this rare time when you get your children all to yourself. Summer doesn’t have to be a choice between your children driving you crazy at home all day or driving them around as much as you did during the school year. With a little bit of thought and preparation, summer can be a time of making both fun memories as well as meaningful growth–right at home.
One of the reasons I love summer so much is that there’s more elbow room to progress in areas that often get pushed aside during the school year due to the never ending stream of book reports, fundraisers, and orchestra concerts. I’ll give you four of my own examples, but I’m sure your family has their own list of priorities. The point is to think of summer as a time to propel your family forward in ways that are important to you.
First, summer is a great time to start or refresh your family’s work and allowance system. Unless you have an unusually busy summer schedule (and I hope you don’t), summer provides rare blocks of uninterrupted time to do family work projects together, or at least establish a better daily routine that has children cleaning up their own spaces as well as being responsible for one other area of the house (or however your family decides to allocate family work). If you’ve been waffling about what sort of family work and allowance system to implement, now is the time to decide so you can create solid habits before the school routine starts up again. (For great ideas on setting up a great work/money system, check out this great program.)
Second, summer is the perfect time to establish healthier eating and exercise habits as a family. Between all the farmer’s markets and roadside produce stands, everyone should be able to get the daily recommended servings of fruit and veggies. Personally, I’ve subscribed to a grocery service that brings a 5 lb. box of organic produce to my door every week, and my goal is to make sure we eat it all–and then some! The combination of lighter meals (preferable during the hot summer months) and the tendency to get outside and move more also makes it easier to make progress on your weight loss goals. Then there are the benefits of cooking together as a family during those luxuriously long, slow summer evenings. Use all of these opportunities to make changes you can realistically maintain before the return of the cold and busy school months.
Third, those family vacations most of us take in the summer provide wonderfully isolated blocks of time that can be used to create a family mission statement. I know this idea seems hokey and forced to many people (at least, it did to me), but you may be shocked and pleasantly surprised at the level of enthusiasm your children (of all ages) show when you ask for their input, not to mention the sense of family identity that comes from thinking up words or phrases that describe what you’re all about. I know some families who even have family flags, mottos, or cheers to go with their statements–it’s just one more way to solidify the values you want to instill in your children.
Last but not least, the best part of summer is enjoying and strengthening your relationships with your children by doing what kids do best: having fun! Click here for an article I wrote a few years back on creating a summer bucket list.
So here’s to making progress–even in the summer!
QUESTION: What do you want to accomplish this summer?
CHALLENGE: Sit down with your family and make some goals for the summer that everyone can get excited about.
Image by dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.
Alisha Gale says
I use summer to introduce my children to all sorts of ideas and literature I think are important, but that they might not be exposed to at school. We do simple art and science projects, and every summer we pick a country to learn about. I love it! I also love that even though we have our version of summer school, there is still hours and hours for them to just be kids and play.
I do want to get a good system of work and allowance. Any ideas (for younger kids)?
What a great article! Thank you so much! Andrea I have three children six and under and we LOVE Family DoDots. http://www.familydodots.com