In our part of the country we’ve already been on summer vacation for a month so while some of you are just getting started, I’m already knee deep in “I’m bored.” And it’s been really hot here – like 110 degrees – so most days we’re just trying to not combust. My kids are 5 and 6 so in addition to keeping them alive, they look to me to be their entertainment committee. Some days I’m all about enriching their lives with memory-making activities and other days it’s all about Minecraft and YouTube toy review videos. But just because they’re tiny doesn’t mean they can’t contribute. Here are some examples of what I’ve learned from them this week:
It’s nice to have something to look forward to. I’m not the over scheduling type so other than a family vacation in July, my kids are signed up for one activity this summer. My son is taking karate and my daughter is taking dance. Even though the classes are only twice a week, they love knowing that they have something fun coming up. I’m the same way. There’s nothing like the anticipation of a box from Amazon being thrown over my fence to make my outlook a little brighter.
When we don’t feel like we’re being heard, we talk louder. Or scream or cry. Or flail our arms in a wild tantrum. Nothing escalates a disagreement between kids faster than a grownup intervening by yelling the loudest. Calmly saying, “I’m listening. I hear you,” goes a long way in diffusing the situation. Kids (and grownups) need a little reassurance that someone is listening and cares (assuming they can hear you above the yelling).
Exercise is good. It releases tension and gets the wiggles out making it possible to walk through Target without a temper tantrum. Time that trip right and you might even be able to try on shoes.
When in a pinch, clean enough works just fine. That goes for bedrooms, sticky faces and stained clothes but maybe not so much for butts. I have to draw the line somewhere.
Sometimes, making a friend is as easy as saying, “Yes.” Some kids jump right into new situations and others freeze as if held back by an invisible force. My son hides behind my legs while my daughter gives strangers a cold stare that makes them think twice about sticking their fingers in the cage. When she started dance classes, she wasn’t sure what to think of the other kids but all it took to break the ice was one little girl coming up to her and asking, “Do you want to run to the wall and back?” “Yes!” she replied and off they went. While she played with her new friend my deepest desire was to ignore the other parents by playing an intense game of Pyramid Saga on my phone but I resisted the urge and made small talk with them instead. And you know what? It was nice. They were nice and I enjoyed myself.
If you don’t want anyone to know you did it, don’t draw attention to it. For example, “Who farted?”
It’s going to be a very long summer. But it still doesn’t compare to what my mom had to go through with 3 solid months of summer vacation and no internet.