Summer is HERE!
Yay! …. er …. maybe?
The sun hasn’t even set on the first day of summer yet and you already hear the two most dreaded words you can hear from your child in the summer time:
Swell. What now?
I was listening to a radio show this morning and today’s guest was a clinical psychologist who was advising parents to take control of the summer-time blahs right off the bat.
She suggested that parents sit down with their children and give them options when they hear the dreaded “I’m bored” singsong.
“Katie, would you like to clean the bathrooms, or sweep the kitchen floor?”
Yes. She suggested giving the kids chores to do. Not only are they learning responsibility and household duties, they are keeping busy AND learning a valuable lesson:
They can either find something to DO, or DO household chores.
She said she wasn’t suggesting this as a form of punishment for the children, children should be asked to do chores to begin with, but she was betting that after doing so many chores, children were going to learn that it was better, and more fun, to figure out something to do on their own because …
Parents aren’t cruise directors. They are not responsible for entertaining their kids. They should not be asked to spend their time making sure their kids are not bored every waking moment.
Being bored is PART of being a kid. When children are bored, they start using their imaginations. They discover new and different things to do and they become just a bit more self-sufficient.
She also suggested that children who AREN’T motivated to DO anything outside video games and/or computers (like my kids), be forced to do something else. They can help CHOOSE an activity, but they will be required to do something.
For example: Boy Scouts. A sport. Practice a musical instrument. Go bike riding. Go swimming. Etc, etc.
But instead of telling them, again, give them a choice, “Would you like to go swimming or bike riding?” and allow the child to pick an activity.
I thought this was all sound advice. I told my children a long time ago I wasn’t going to entertain them – they needed to find something to do or I would find something to do for them.
They quickly learned to stop asking me.
Now that’s not to say we didn’t go DO stuff, but it eliminated the whining when our activities were over and it was time for ME to do other things – sans children.
When I was little, my mom made out a summer schedule for us. Every day, she would plan one activity for us to do. One day, we went to the movies (back when they had a summer movie program for kids – do they still have those?), another day, we went swimming, another day, we hung out with my cousins, another day, the park, another day, the zoo, another day, make a craft … etc, etc.
These activities took several hours and afterward, we were usually too tired to do anything else, let alone whine about how bored we were. But having that schedule was comforting – we KNEW what we were going to do, we PLANNED for that activity and we DID it – together.
I’ll never forget those summers. They were always so much fun.
So, if you’re having trouble keeping the kids busy this summer, make a schedule. And ask for your children’s input. Ask them what THEY want to do and then schedule it on a big summer calendar that you can later hang up for everyone to see.
If money is an issue (and isn’t it always?), let the kids know that you only have so much money to spend on summer activities and then work out how much certain activities will cost and subtract that from your budget (do this in front of your children). Children can add and subtract, they will soon realize what is doable and what is not.
And it might cut down on the whining if they know there’s simply not enough money to do something.
But there are so many FREE, and cheap ways to keep your kids entertained, you just have to keep an open mind and take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves. In fact, I plan on posting quite a few ideas to help you have fun with the kids this summer.
(Notice I didn’t say “keep them entertained this summer?” 🙂 )
In fact, here are some ideas you can implement now, or at any time during the summer months that will be sure to be a hit with the kids AND provide you with some awesome memories of them.
If you can swing it:
Buy them their own disposable camera, or allow them access to an old camera, and don’t restrict what they take pictures of. Allow them to be artistic in their own way. OR, teach them photography tips and schedule picture time on your summer calendar to take a trip to the park and take pictures of birds, or flowers, or anything that catches your eye.
Allow them to use an old video camera, or the video function on your phone, and tape themselves putting on a play, imitating a news broadcaster, interviewing family members, or playing detective. Then you could schedule a family movie night, pop some popcorn and watch their movies.
Buy a digital voice recorder (if you can swing it, or just use an old tape recorder) and allow them to act silly just recording themselves.
And what ever you do, keep track of these pictures, videos and recordings because they are SO FUN to look at, watch and listen to later, and for many years later.
We did this with our boys when my nephews came over to stay the night. They used my digital voice recorder and made up all sorts of silly games and took our old video camera to the park and acted out some sort of story which absolutely cracked us up. In fact, Kevin edited the video and you can watch it here, if you like.
The point is, allow them to just have some unstructured fun with the technology and tools that are available and BE kids. You’ll be amazed at their imaginations.
Trust me. 🙂
And how about encouraging their writing skills? (Always a personal favorite of mine – but I have yet to interest my boys in this). Help them start a blog! Then they could chronicle their summer activities in their journal. Help them set it up, customize it and show them the blog ropes. This would teach them a bit about the computer (if they don’t already know more than you do!), AND it would give you an opportunity to teach them about online safety.
Don’t want to do the online thing? How about taking them shopping for a funky new diary? What pre-teen girl wouldn’t want a pretty little pink diary to write her innermost thoughts in?
Oh, I just thought of one more thing the psychologist from the radio show suggested to do:
Take the kids to garage sales and thrift stores. You could teach them to be smart shoppers AND the old adage is true, “one person’s junk is another man’s treasure.” You could also pick up some cheap clothing to make costumes out of – which is part of a suggestion I’ll be posting in the Summer Fun articles coming up. 😉
And speaking of the Summer Fun articles – I’ll be posting suggestions for things to do with the kids every Friday (beginning tomorrow!). You can keep track of the posts on this page. AND, there could be a give away some where in all this fun, too, so stay tuned!
Whew! And just think, we’re just getting started!
Stick around! Together, we’ll get through the summer months. 🙂
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