The three greatest activities for summer
Summer is here and the heat is on for parents to keep their kids busy, entertained and the center of attention. Do you believe that statement? If so then read on and you may see things a little differently. Here is what I believe to be summers greatest activities for kids.
First, sign them up for chores. Yes that’s right, chores are more important to a young persons character development than entertaining them is. No child should be living in a home without contributing to the family. Real life means that we all work together to make life for the family enjoyable for everyone. A hundred years ago, parents would have laughed about having this conversation. The pendulum has swung and its time to move it back a little. Teaching responsibility and cooperation is our job.
Secondly, sign them up to participate in making family plans. Families can take out the calendar and organize camping trips, day hikes, movies and vacations. Divide the tasks up and hand them out. Mom could completely organize a camping trip on her own. However, if mom does all the work, she receives all the learning too. Again, our job as parents is not to entertain our kids but to give them many opportunities for growth and learning. For example, the tasks may include, creating a budget, menu planning, grocery shopping, checking sleeping bags and coolers for wear and tear, organizing pet care and planning the driving route on a map. Young people thrive on taking ownership, and having choices and power within limits. So instead of letting your 10 year old make all the decisions around the menu, provide some options for meals that the whole family can live with and let him choose from there. Remember, this is about teaching participation and having a “family” focus not a “child or adult” focus.
Lastly, sign them up for less. Fewer dance classes, art workshops, baseball, golf and tennis lessons and more family time. Provide less individual activities and more family activities. More time to stare at clouds, get bored, read books and bug each other. If you add up all the hours of drive time, practice and game time, you would notice that with just a little less, your family would have more.
Someday, I would love to hear, “No I am sorry, our family cannot attend that event on Sunday because that is our time together.” Wow, can you imagine the power in that message, family time is a priority, not just an afterthought. This may be controversial but I believe, healthy families will create healthy communities by taking the focus off of the individual. Families are the place kids learn responsibility, compromise and cooperation and most importantly, kids learn what it means to love others enough to sacrifice their personal desires for them.
Enjoy your family time this summer and if you ever need a little more support or would like to find out more, call YouthZone at 945-9300.
Lori Mueller is the YouthZone program director
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