This week marks the official start of summer, bringing with it longer days and rising temperatures. You may be in the middle of lazy days or racing between swim lessons and baseball games. Whether you’re feeling relaxed or frazzled by the summer pace, now is a good time to remember that summer is short and we don’t get to enjoy many of them before our kids head off to their own adventures. So how do we make the most of these 18 short summers with our kids?
Relishing in the positive moments and learning how to make the most out of your time with the children around you can help build a lifetime of summer memories. Some quick tips we have learned and found helpful include:
- Put down your cell phone. We know, we know – it’s HARD! But spending dedicated, quality time with children requires your full attention. Kids notice if you are distracted and not fully engaged. So set aside some time to be fully present with them. Fight the urge to quickly respond to that email or take a peek at social media updates.
- Let them lead. Ask them what they would like to do or play and take some time to step into your children’s world. Just be in the moment with them. Ask questions about what they are doing without giving advice or input. You will learn more about how your children think and help them feel valued. If you are on a walk, let them choose the path. If you are making up a game, let them craft some of the rules. If you are solving a problem, let them find their solution. While it may not always be the easiest or most efficient route, have patience and celebrate them where they are. You may get a pretty good laugh out of it too!
- Be in the moment. Cell phones have undoubtedly changed the landscape of on the spot photography. Your phone is a great tool for quickly capturing memories. But sometimes we can be so worried about achieving the perfect shot and catching every moment on video that we forget to be IN the moment. Life becomes directed and posed instead of lived. Don’t worry about photographing the moment and just be in it – trap it in your memory. Hey, it may even help us avert memory loss!
- Get outside. Summer is a great time to get outside with your kids. Play in the backyard, set up the sprinkler, head to a local park, go on a hike or explore Pathfinder Parkway. Sometimes getting out of your house and away from household responsibilities helps all of you relax and have a little more fun. Best part? All of these activities are free.
- As anyone knows, building a positive relationship has ups and downs. A consistently important factor is listening. Kids have voices and deserve to be heard. Whether it’s a funny story from summer camp or their vote for dinner, knowing you listen to the small things helps them develop trust when they need to talk about bigger issues.
- Be intentional. As parents it’s easy to find ourselves living somewhere between survival and drill sergeant mode. Even when we feel like we’re hanging on for dear life, it’s important to take a minute to figure out what we want to achieve with our time with kids. Even better, involve your kids in the planning. Make a list of the things that matter to your family, and start planning. You can’t get everything done this summer, but if you only have a few left before your kids move on, now’s the time to determine how you want to spend that time.
It’s been said that the days are long but the years are short. That’s never been more true than when spending 18 short summers with our kids.