Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summertime Gifts

Summer break brings a smile to most school-age children, but for us moms, it can elicit a sigh or two. Sure, we enjoy our children. Sure, we want to spend more time with them. The total lack of structure, however, makes this—ahem—difficult. No wonder so many summer camps are filled to maximum capacity. Yes, I know, those camps are (and I quote) “educational.” Educational or not, I feel those camps are a gift for us parents, so we can have some form of structure. Please, give me a schedule, a plan, some type of order—anything.

My children are teenagers now, but when they were younger, I found the summer slowdown an ideal way to get to know them more. I believe we are all born with unique talents as a gift from God, and one of my favorite responsibilities as a mom is to discover those talents in my children. I’d set us up on the back patio with some chalk, bubbles and a garden hose, and soon their preferences became evident.

My daughter loved to try new things and didn’t mind getting messy or wet. She’d spend hours on extra-large sidewalk drawings evidencing the colorful world in her imagination.

When my son tried something new, he usually preferred to do it over and over until he figured out how it worked. We once had an extra-large bubble-wand-thingy and he spent the entire afternoon figuring out how long the bubbles took to pop.

The toughest thing to juggle then was figuring out how to get my house chores done, too.

This summer, we are juggling my son’s part-time job, my daughter’s two volunteer gigs, and my own part-time job. When my daughter and her friend offered their services to clean my house, of course my answer was a resounding “yes!” This is a new way to get house chores done, I’ve learned.

Two and a half hours later, my daughter and her friend presented me with the sparkling list checked off and finished to perfection. Their organization, energy, competitiveness and joy shone through the wiping, mopping and scrubbing. I discovered more of my daughter’s talents again, along with those of her friend. I noticed their passion for life, their work ethic and their willingness to help. My summertime sigh was converted a summertime smile. What a gift.

How do you set up a sense of structure for your summer? And what are the gifts and talents you’ve discovered in your children?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Slowdown and Slurpees

Ahhh. The first week of June and summer is not only on the calendar for this month, but on my mind. There’s something about switching to June that reminds me to Slow. Down. Whatever happened to the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer?”

I scheduled them.

No more lazy, hazy or crazy allowed. All it takes is a slight touch on a phone and voila! Life is booked. Overbooked, in fact.

When I was a kid, summer meant slowing down. Only then could I enjoy playing with an old chunk of white chalk and draw a masterpiece on the sidewalk, then use the hose to wash it away. I’d enjoy time with a bunch of neighborhood friends where we’d play freeze tag at the parking lot down the street where more neighborhood kids would join in. We’d walk around to the back driveway and grab our bikes to take a ride around the block. We’d play hairdresser and try new styles on each other. We’d ask our moms for some balloons and fill them with water for a short-lived balloon toss game. Then maybe we’d go to the 7-11 down the street for a Cola Slurpee and get brain freeze while drinking it on the walk home. The only way to thoroughly savor a Slurpee to the last drop is to drink it slowly. There’s no slurping a Slurpee.

Today, summer means figuring out the schedule for my teenagers, husband and myself. Driving to and back from appointments, work, volunteer gigs. It’s a good season, though, and I plan to watch for 25 mph speed signs and slow down enough to enjoy the ride. Just like a Cola Slurpee.

How do you plan to slow down this summer?