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?