Your Summer Plans

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Your Summer Plans

It’s so important to find rest from the frenetic pace and demands of daily responsibilities. Summer affords us many opportunities to do so. The days are longer, the weather warmer, the pace slower. Whether at home or elsewhere, we enjoy the change of routines, the time for socializing and the needed rest and sunshine. When summer is lived well, we are all ready to embrace our responsibilities with new energy, greater optimism, and more determined effort. Now is the best time to begin planning.

Our time with our children is limited. The number of summers we spend together are numbered and diminishes each year. Time is passing. The older the children get, the less available they become because of friends, work, and programs. Before we know it, they are off to college, living in other cities and too caught up in their own lives to have much time for us.  Now is the moment.  Make the most of this summer.

Too often children’s summer activities comprise paid and structured camps, programs, courses etc. Although one or two are worth considering, most children just want to be – to be children. They want a carefree summer to play, relax and hang out with family and friends. This often spontaneous, unstructured time feeds them at a deeper level. It goes beyond skill acquisition or group activity. It meets the desire to love and be loved, to deepen relationships that are meaningful and to know we are worth spending time with.  It doesn’t happen on auto-pilot because we have to juggle a lot and are often overwhelmed. So we need to think, plan and have options open to help us navigate each day with greater joy and less exhaustion. We want to share great times with people who mean most to us. When seen through these lenses, we begin to appreciate the need for summer plans to satisfy some of the longings of the human heart for love, less tension and more enjoyment. Wise parents know that they have few years to strengthen the bonds within the family.

This summer, put the emphasis on something that will really make a difference in the hearts of your children for years to come. Slow the pace and enjoy the moment. You need it and they need it. The pandemic has drained everyone. Deliberately, consciously, spend more time with your children in ways they want and need. Give them oodles of quantity of time, wherein quality moments can abound.  This can be challenging when your job is draining and you have little energy. Consider doing a two for one recharge. Pick activities that really rejuvenate you: old hobbies, things you loved to do when growing up, leisure activities you enjoy as an adult. Now share them with your children. Relive your childhood. Give yourself room to feel young and be with your kids.  Explore new avenues with one or two of your children. Go on adventures by bike, by hike or whatever.  Maximize the home front – leisurely meals together, enjoying friends and relatives, playing together, laughing, sharing, and relishing the moment. Brainstorm a list of easy possibilities and keep them nearby for quick reference when you’re overwhelmed. Things like playdough, battleship, listening to an audible, outdoor sprinkler, nature walk, lego, early rock and roll music, etc. Think of all the cool things your kids would enjoy doing or discovering for the first time and jot it down. Go to an outdoor concert, visit a farm, discover a new beach.  Too often we are mistaken in believing that the good things in life come with a price tag. Rather, the timeless moments are those that are often the simplest, the most spontaneous and involve people we care deeply about.

How will you make each child feel deeply loved by you? What will you do to have them focus on you and enjoy your company and have the most amazing memory? Will it be all the silly and fun songs you will be singing around the campfire? Or the breakfast picnic you took by the water alone together? Or playing a board game in the evenings with a big bowl of popcorn? We desperately need to connect with our children. Think of the small ways you might strengthen family honor, family love, and a sense of family history. The more we tighten the bonds between us, the less likely our children will be led astray by bad influences. Focus on the little things. They add up and make a big difference.

You have to understand where your kids are at and meet them at their level, incorporating some fun things they want to do, and doing it with them. There has to be some give and take on everyone’s part.  Ask each child, “What would you love to do this summer? By yourself, with your siblings, with dad, with me, with any of our friends? Is there anything you’d like to try out – a new sport, some new hobby, etc. or is there something neat you want to learn more about? ” It is really worthwhile to know what excites them, bores them, intrigues them and turns them off. Once you have obtained their input, sit down with your spouse and plan as many suggestions as you can into your summer. Generate a list for yourself too! We all need to be revitalized, refreshed and enjoy summer.  When the real needs of your family members are being met, everyone will be much happier.

Kids know the difference between us putting up with them and us enjoying them. Underneath the exterior facade, kids crave time with us. Be willing to sacrifice your time, your work and your rest for them. The years are slipping away. You have so little time with them. Time freely given speaks volumes: “I care. You are worth it. You mean so much to me”. Be willing to waste time with your children and invest in their hearts. Summer offers many opportunities. Grab them and aim for the stars.

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