Many of my friends are having babies, and it’s a reminder for me that our children really do grow up fast. In ten years I doubt my son will say, “I wish mom sat on the sidelines more while I played baseball.”
I want my children to remember the time we spent together. I want them to look back on their childhood summers with a smile on their lips.
I spent the beginning of summer rushing from one summer camp to another trying to coordinate pick-ups and drop-offs at the same time in opposite parts of town. I was exhausted, and I caught myself snapping at the children every morning as I stressed about getting each child to camp on time.
To amplify that one of my children is on the Autism Spectrum, and if he is late for something that he knows starts at a particular time it will screw up his entire day. It’s as if he can’t let it go, he’ll continue to worry and think about it. And needless to say he won’t be fun to be around.
As August approached I felt like we didn’t have much to show for our summer. Sure we went on vacation and the boys went to camp, but I didn’t feel like I had any quality time with my children. I know that once school starts, we will be overwhelmed with activities, PTA and homework.
Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a working parent; I know you can sympathize with me. Maybe your summer has looked a lot like mine? Tonight change the course of your summer and do the five things listed below.
If your children whine or complain about doing them, say, “Instead we can do chores together? Would you rather wash the baseboards?”
1. Give each member of your family a small memo pad and one marker, including the adults, and walk around your neighborhood drawing what you see. If you can text and walk, you can draw and walk.
2. Lay a blanket down in your yard and share with your children what you see in the cloud shapes. Don’t sit in patio chairs, lay down and be connected with the earth and your children. Talk about the shapes. Ask them what they want to be when they grow up and if they are nervous about school starting. Now is your opportunity to listen. Remember that their problems are very real to them; even the 13-year-old heartbreak.
3. Read a portion of a book together, even if your children are older use this opportunity to take turns reading aloud. Whether it’s from Harry Potter, Shel Silverstein, or if you are religious, use this time to read the Bible or another spiritual text.
4. Turn off the Wii and play an old-fashioned board game or card game. The thing that is missing when you are playing an electronic game (Wii, Nintendo etc.) with your child is conversation. What’s wrong with teaching your teen how to play poker?
5. Involve everyone in the making of dinner. Assign each member of the family a job to contribute to the family meal.
I hope in the coming months, as our evening are filled with homework, book reports and sports practices, that we each take something from the list of five things to do with our children and add it to our weekend plans.