There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1
Central Texas is amazing place to live. I’ve been here for 10 years and never desire to live elsewhere… unless of course it’s summertime…..when (as a visiting friend once described to me) we feel as though we are “being roasted alive in front of an open barbecue pit.” Ouch. I guess we do feel a bit like rotisserie chickens in the summer, and that makes it tough to get out with small children except for trips to places with a generous offering of air conditioning or a promise of cool water. Which means we are indoors. A lot. With small kids, and possibly going insane.
But if you are not planning to travel much or participate in a bunch of summer camps, then no sweat. Here are some no-stress ideas from our home to yours that might keep you panic-free in the summer afternoons. 🙂
You wouldn’t live on a deserted island and not bring potable water, right? So don’t try to live through the doldrums of summer without music! Even with howls and squabbles in the background, a little Nina Simone ambience can make you feel like you’re in a quiet cafe somewhere. We are big fans of Pandora. For family music (of the non-Barney variety) we like the Dan Zanes, the Beatles and Jack Johnson stations, for starters. We love the All Sons and Daughters station for praise and worship. Music sets the stage for the atmosphere of your day. Let your children hear you sing, because it’s beautiful to them! And you never know when an impromptu dance party will break out.
Reading is the best way to travel when you can’t go anywhere geographically. Work on that book list you have in your mind, or write down those book recommendations you’ve been given and challenge yourself to read a few. Enroll the children in the summer library book clubs and declare a reading time each day. Encourage readers to find a nook in the house when they’re older, or maybe curl up on the couch with you if they’re younger. Let the kids see you reading, and sometimes if you bring your book or reading device to where they are playing, they’ll actually play much more happily. We enjoy family read alouds (in fact my husband and I often fight over who’s turn it is to read each night). Here is my growing list of favorite titles to inspire imagination if you are looking for ideas!
Fight the urge to cave into the ceaseless requests. We all know our children’s personalities begin to evaporate once they get too far into the computer game zone. For ages 5 and up, let them earn screen time through chores or something structured of your choosing to keep the work/play balance in tact. Don’t be afraid to assert that they find something else to do. Their creativity will flourish! Keep a list of alternative ideas for kids who need something more specific than “go play.” Try to align screen time up with a Mama rest time!
4) Get on the Floor.
Not to scrub the tile grout, but just to see what happens when you unplug, too. You will notice quickly that people will gather around you, even the older ones who are “too cool.” 😉 They might be in need of some tickles or cuddles, or might want to play cards or a board game. Often times you can get them started like this and hop up again to go make that phone call or that iced coffee you’ve been dreaming about since breakfast.
5) Prepare the Environment, then Let Go.
Put a little forethought into a few things that will keep those minds curious and make them available for the kids. Here are some I hope to make available in our home. Puzzles, manipulatives, play doh, water colors, legos – the things we don’t always have time to do during the school year. Make things accessible, demonstrate for them how they should be taken care of and put away while in use/when done, and then let them have the freedom to choose. Because of the heat, we plan any outings for the morning and we spend the afternoon in hibernation, and this is usually our time to for these things. Try to let go of standards and let them make pancakes for lunch and keep a tent pitched in their room – the days are long but the year are short!
There are busy seasons of our lives with children and relaxed seasons. Enjoy the blessings of the sweet bonds your family will forge during summertime, and don’t feel pressured to be busy.
And please let us know… what are your favorite secrets of a happy summer?