A Six Week Series on Parenting - Week Six

CaitieMcCabePortraits.com

CaitieMcCabePortraits.com

Enjoy Your Kids 

Well, I am way behind on writing this last piece of the series because I have not been following the advice I am about to impart.  I have been busy, busy, busy. I haven’t even had time to sit and write. Was all of it busy work? No! There was a lot of fun “busy” in there as well. Several weekend get-aways to visit my older kids have kept us on the go. However, it would appear that my inadverdent delay in finishing this series is in fact, rather timely! With school just about to end and summer break about to begin, my advice to you is slow down and Enjoy Your Kids.

We often get sucked into the summer sign-up frenzy. We see opportunities for our kids to partake in neatly packaged enrichment programs known as “summer camps”. The variety of camps is immeasurable. There’s the church Vacation Bible School (always a fun spiritual memory), Junior Life Guards (great physical exercise), Art Camp, Lego Engineering Camp, Equestiran Camp, Music Camp…etc.  The list is unending. All of these options are great!  However, we have the tendency to want to provide every opportunity and without realizing it, we have scheduled our child’s entire vacation! The first Monday of summer break dawns and we hit the ground running, throwing lunches into their hands, and rushing them off to their camps! We find ourselves just as frazzled as we were during the school year but without the homework!

I’m going to pretend that we moms sign our kids up for activities solely for their benefit and not to just pawn our kids off on someone else for our own benefit. We get caught up in the enticement of nifty activities and belittle the benefit of just being together.  And this madness isn’t unique to just summertime.  We over-schedule ourselves all year long. There’s music lessons, sports, dance, gymnastics, scouts and church. (Okay, we don’t actually do all of that but I think we’ve tried!) Scheduling a family game night in our house is like trying choreograph a flash mob. Why? Because we are all really busy doing really good stuff.

The thing is, enoying your kids just doesn’t have to be that complicated. Sadly, however, it would appear that we have to be intentional about enjoying our kids.  But take heart! Summer is here and it is a great time to start! Here are some suggestions:

1.   Get the board games out of the cabinet and set them in a pile near the kitchen. Play a game during breakfast over your first cup of coffee.  (If nothing else, you have started your day with your kids and a game.)

2.   Plan one outing a week with you and the kids.  Of course, here in Southern California, that is a standing date at the beach.  However, it could be the community pool or a favorite park. We let all our friends know that we will be at a particular place every Wednesday from 11- 4.  We pack a picnic and look forward to our weekly date.

3.   Go to the dollar store and stock up on play-doh, sidewalk chalk, watercolor paints, bubbles, construction paper, glue and glitter.  Put it all in a big box and pull it out weekly to fight the “we’re bored” syndrome.

4.   Teach your kids card games like Go Fish, Crazy Eights,  Hearts, Spoons, Sleeping Queens, Five Crowns, and Nertz.

5.   Go to your local Home Depot or Appliance Store and ask if they can spare any extremely large cardboard box. Refrigerator boxes are the best. Let the kids transform this box into a spaceship, castle, clubhouse, etc. using markers, crayons, or paint.

6.   Have tea parties in the yard. Of course, we serve apple juice and cookies instead of tea and crumpets but you can pick your favorites.

7.   Make a weekly trip to the public library and bring home stacks of colorful books.  Let the kiddos pick out their favorites.  The key here, is to then actually sit at home and read them aloud together!

8.   Watch T.V. with your kids!  A guilty pleasure, I know, but they love having you around.  Sit with them and watch their favorite cartoons or animated movie.  What makes them giggle or burst out loud laughing?

9.   Invite their friends over for playdates. (This is my secret little piece of selfishness.  If their friends are over, I can get my chores done.)

10.                 Serve others together. You can be flexible here.  If your kids       are older, you can volunteer at the local food bank or homeless shelter.  My 11 year-old and I just finished making a simple no-sew blanket for our military. You can even just seek out other moms who are tired and volunteer to take their kids for the day and enlist your kids to help “babysit”.  There is always someone else who needs a helping hand.  Teach your kids compassion by lending a hand together.

Enjoying your kids does not mean that you have to isolate yourselves. It helps to seek out like-minded parents and try to strike up friendships for your entire family. This way, you know that whoever your kids are with, they all are being held accountable to the same biblical standards. This makes for truly fun years of doing life together with other godly families. Together as families, go camping, serve in church, go biking, do Bible studies,   As your kids grow, so will their friendships and spiritual maturity. And the fruit of this will be that as your kids become adults they will be ready to influence the world rather than be influenced by the world.