The sun, water, and squeals of delight made the longing for summer days shine bright. With just two weeks of school left, we are counting down the days until lazy mornings uninterrupted by alarms and the rush to get out the door become the norm.
As parents, summer can be a two-sided coin. We remember the lazy morning that is so perfect until a fight breaks out over a meaningless toy that for some reason has become the coveted prize that morning. The memory of the fun night telling stories around the campfire out ways the cranky children who complained the entire two-mile bike ride.
Here are 5 simple tools for shining this summer.
1. Never underestimate the power of communication.
We communicate all day long, through words, tone, body language, and even in the decision to speak or stay silent. For effective and powerful communication without yelling and arguing, keep these thoughts in mind:
Positive is powerful.
- Focus on what your kids are doing rather than what they are not doing. Catch them in the good and let them know. What you focus on grows in you and in your kids.
- Replace “don’t do that” or “stop that” with what you want them to do. If they are using your couches as an indoor trampoline: “Couches are for sitting.” This simple shift in words is one of parenting's best keep secrets. Seems simple yet the result is powerful. Keep in mind that communicating this way takes a little bit of training on our part as parents, but it works! (Let me know if you need a little help and we can schedule a conversation to get you the tools you need to put this into practice and start seeing the results in your own home!)
- Summer schedules can be different from day to day with vacations, summer camps, and random play dates. Find a time each day to check-in and talk about upcoming schedules and events. Everyone does better when they know what’s going on.
- Daily check-ins are also a great time to address any “problems.” Include everyone on coming up for solutions and eliminate your role as the police.
2. Embrace Boredom.
Boredom can feel like a curse but it’s actually a blessing. You can read more about the gift boredom is to our children here.
At the beginning of the summer, we create a Summer Bucket List as a family. Over a bowl of ice cream, we brainstorm fun activities to do this summer. One list has things to do at home and the other is our adventure list. One idea my boys are excited to add to the list this year…our very own egg drop contest. They already have plans to raid our recycling to make a container that will protect an egg from a second story drop. I’ll let you know what happens!
3. Say “yes” to the Adventure
I find my default answer is often no.
“No, its too messy.”
“No, we don’t have time.”
“No, I’ve got to make dinner, pay bills, fold laundry…”
It is easy for me to say “no.” Especially when the idea is messy, involved, or seems doomed to fail. But I’ve been challenged lately to say yes. Yes to an extra chapter in our book at nighttime, yes to after dinner dance party, yes to painting the Amazon boxes into space ships, yes to spontaneous beach trips. I haven’t regretted it yet. The adventures and the memories are outweighing the extra mess, a few minutes less sleep, or the bathroom that isn't spotlessly clean. I plan to continue saying yes this summer and challenge you to try it too.
4. Take Care of You
Maybe this should have been first of the list but its last because it will be the last thing you read and hopefully it sticks with you.
If we want to shine as parents this summer, if we want to be present, and enjoy life, we must take care of ourselves! We cannot give to our children when we are empty. When I’ve put myself on the back burner, my fuse is short. I snap at my children over the littlest things, my patience level is at zero and I am plain just not fun to be around.
Want to know my secret recipe for self-care? It’s daily doses of quiet, movement, and whole, good food. The quiet feeds my soul with prayer and reading the Bible. Movement and good food fuel my body and give me the energy, as well as mental well-being to engage wholeheartedly in life. Some days these ingredients come in small doses, other days I get large quantities but in the end I know these three things fill me up so I can pour out into my boys. What's your recipe for taking care of yourself?