Keep the Joy in Summer ~ Mary Dravis-Parrish

We are now about halfway through the summer. How are you managing having the kids around more? Do you have mixed feelings about loving your kids and loving time without them? You are not alone and in fact, parenting isn’t about being with your kids 24/7. The transition to summer with kids at home can be difficult for both kids and parents. Most kids also like to have time when mom and dad aren’t around too. They like their independence. Here are a few tips that can create more ease during the summertime as well as other times that are transitions.

Expectations: What expectations do you have of your children while they are out of school? What expectations do your kids have? You may find that they are not the same. Kids look forward to leaving the demands of school behind; free to have more time for fun and play. As much as they may want this down time, often they get bored and don’t know how to fill the time, since they have been on structured time during the school year. Or they want to do so many things that they can’t decide what they want, so they end up sitting around waiting for someone to tell them. This will be an opportune time to model and teach your kids how to make choices.

Your expectations may include having them help more around the house and yard, giving you a chance to catch up on needed chores. Put yourself in their shoes and how does that sound if you all you want to do is play? Perhaps you expect them to continue to do some schoolwork to stay on top of their learning. Would this match their expectations? The value of examining expectations is to know where your kids are coming from. You know your kids best and you know what happens when their expectations aren’t met. You also know yourself best and you know what happens when your expectations aren’t met. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Sometimes it pays to throw out the recipe and start over from scratch. So even though the summer is half over, it is not too late to stop and ask some questions.

~Come together as a family and discuss how the summer is going so far. Here are some keys to having a successful family discussion:
~Allow each person to say what is on their mind without any judgment.
~Repeat what you heard them say, so they have a chance to clarify.
~Avoid correcting or interrupting them in any way.
~Ask if they have any more to say before moving onto the next person.
~After each person has had a say, ask some questions about what ideas they have about helping each person enjoy the summer break.

This isn’t about giving kids everything they want, it is about coming together, being a team effort where everyone is heard, acknowledging what they want and willing do what you can to help them achieve it. Be patient with this process as kids may need some time to see the benefits.

If you have specific ideas about what you want your children to be doing during the summer, try to take the approach of first acknowledging what they want and then asking them some questions about the other ideas that you have. For example, if you want your kids to do some math lessons during the summer, ask them some questions about the value of doing the lessons:

What will math be like when you go back to school?
Do you think you will remember everything?
What happens when an athlete doesn’t practice?
How much practice do you think you require?
When would be the best time for you to do that?
What can I do to help you achieve that and be more successful in school?

Not every child will respond to this, as some kids really don’t want to do any schoolwork. In this case, knowing your child is vital to knowing how to set it up so they want to do it. Some kids like to have rewards- let’s face it, sometimes that works. Some kids like to make it like play and play school. Some kids need some structure around it- every day at 11 am- 20 minutes of math, you choose based on what you know about your child. Some kids get bored with routine and need to have some variety. Ask them how they would like to create the time for it and see how it works. It doesn’t have to work out perfectly, you keep adjusting it. This shows your child that there are always more possibilities to explore. Stay in the question of “What else is possible that we haven’t tried?”

Ask for Help- Ask your kids for help. Let them know that you value them, and that you know they are capable of being of assistance. Ask them how they would do something. Ask them to show you how they would do a task, as they may have a better way of doing it. Let go of any expectations you have of how things need to be done. Be clear on what it is you need to have done if you prefer it to be a certain way. Kids don’t have the same desire to have a clean house, clean dishes, weed-free yard, or even clean rooms as you do.

I recall a dad telling his kids that he needed some help in the evening getting lunches made, dishes done, and bedtime routines completed. The kids told their dad that they could make their lunches and that they would be happy to help. Allow your kids to contribute to your life through the invitation not through the demands. Again, if you put yourself in your child’s place, how would you respond to someone demanding that you do something rather than asking if you would like to help. It also teaches our kids that it is okay to ask for help. Ever notice how resistant kids can be in asking for help? Where do they get that from?

Have fun with your kids. If you are living a serious life, what message are you giving your kids? If you have trouble having fun, and many adults do, look to your kids for how to have fun. Let go of any judgments. Whatever you are doing, is there a way to make it more fun? Work doesn’t have to be drudgery; it can be fun. Put some music on, dress up, be silly, allow a little bit of creativity to come through. Be aware of how difficult this is for you and check in and see if it is an area that your kids can help you with. Sometimes it is the child who is the serious one. Go forth gently to ease in some fun, laughter and chuckles that will allow the child to feel more comfortable with having fun.

Summertime is a great time to explore new possibilities; to learn new things together and apart. It can be a time that you discover more about your child by being in allowance of the choices made, the responses to situations, and asking more questions that allow your child to share with you what is in their world. It can be a time that you try different strategies to see what works and what doesn’t.

What if summertime is a time for curiosity, growth, play, collaboration and joy? What if you and your kids could honor time together as well as time apart without any guilt. What needs to change to turn this summer around to make it better than it has been? As you ask that question, allow your awareness to guide you to the next course of action. It is all part of the adventure of being a parent. Enjoy the adventure!

Mary Dravis-Parrish, Parent Whisperer, Author, Speaker and Host of Be You Parenting radio show devotes her messages to empowering each individual to be all they can be.

Mary Dravis-Parrish has over 25 years of experience as an educator, trainer, empowerment family coach, and speaker.
Mary is dedicated to bringing greater possibilities to family living that allows both parents and children to live life that is true to their inherent uniqueness.

She is the author of Empowered Parents Empowering Kids, A Guide to Be You Parenting.   Her radio show, Be You Parenting on Inspired Choices Radio Network, offers tips and insights for today’s empowered parents.

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For more about Parenting to the True Nature of your child tune in to this episode of Be You Parenting.

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