We begin the summer with goals. They are well-thought-out, eager. We begin the summer with a pressing need to release ourselves from the strict structure of school schedules. We want less. We want release. We want lazy, long days spent at the beach or lake and hours of time for our children outdoors.
Now, two months have gone by and while we may have accomplished some of those goals, we are in a different place. Our children have played (and whined some, too). They have had the days of needing to be nowhere and having nothing to do. They have unwound themselves from the endless hurry that May holds and enjoyed laughing and learning at a different pace.
The calendar tells us it’s time. School and schedule will begin again.
I am not sure where you are, but yesterday I found myself needing to work on speaking and writing things while surrounded by my two youngest. They had a lot to say. So much. The morning opened with one telling me about his dream. In great detail. The other one woke up with a need to do. Move. Be active. I know there were only two of them at home but with one sharing so many words and the other one bouncing off the walls, I felt a bit like I was sitting in the middle of a verbal tornado. Adding to that chaos was the fact that I WANT to listen, I want to engage, I want to be the momma who is present and loving them and offering them my eyes and my attention but yesterday, to be very honest, it was hard for me to juggle what I needed to do with what I wanted to do.
Does this ever happen to you? (It would be so nice to know that it does… )
One of my kiddos talked about a day in the city. I could not see this happening. He did not get a no but he did not get a yes. Then, he sat down, eye-to-eye with me and said, “Momma, I only have a few goals for today. I want to take a walk or have a camp fire or both. I want to watch an episode of The Flash. I would like to go to the bookstore and do a little Pokemon-ing.”
I looked up to catch his gaze. All of these were possible things. All were small and easy. This I could do.
It is easy to think that what matters to our kids are big and overwhelming things. It is easy to allow ourselves to wallow in guilt when we cannot meet goals that we, ourselves, have set. It is easy to feel like we are struggling, failing, at this parenting gig. And then, sometimes, we get a little moment of clarification. My boy’s list offered that to me.
I am not sure where you are in your summer. But for all of us, the end of this season is near. Maybe we can glean a little wisdom from my son’s list and set some reachable goals for the days that remain. I do not think we need more than three.
- Go outside. Yep, even you. Find 5 minutes or an hour and join your child in nature. Take a walk. Tend the garden. Kick a soccer ball. Swing a bat. Walk the dog. Together. I promise you will not regret those minutes. Listen to the chatter of your child and join in the conversation, not in an effort to teach, but just as a way to connect. Let the sun, or rain, fall on your face. Be present together in Creation.
- See a movie. Didn’t expect that one, did ya? Yep, I know I speak and write about technology and our need for less. A lot less. And I believe that is important. But sometimes, it is fun to pull up a flick on Netflix or Prime, or enter a dark theater and enjoy some popcorn and a good movie. Do it together. This is way different from your child being on a screen alone. This is way different from handing them a phone while shopping. This is a shared event, a memory made. And when it is over, sit down over ice cream and talk about it. Even if it was silly. Talking through a movie helps even the very young to learn to evaluate what they see. We want this, mommas. We want them to learn to think in age appropriate ways. Wondering what to see? Plugged In has great, family friendly reviews.
- Read a book together. It doesn’t matter how old your child is, this is always worth it. Make it fun. Show your littles that reading is good. Help them to fall in love with story. If you aren’t sure where to find a good book, I suggest choosing something off these lists: If you have littles, use the Monarch book list. And if your kids are older, use the Caudill book list. I love these lists because the books are highly recommended and tend to be very engaging. Using these helped me to ease my most reluctant reader into being an eager, book-lover.
Our days are limited. You may feel like you have done it all or you may face the start of school with regrets. We were never going to do it perfectly. Our dreams of summer were never going to be perfectly achieved. And to be honest, perfection is not the point. These months offer us a different time, a place of rest. There is no rule that says we must create 80-some-idyllic days. It is important to realize that what feels perfect to us and what is perfect to our kids may be two very different things.
Today, this week, think through these very simple goals and see where they may fit in the days that remain. Be present, not constantly, but as you can. Go outside. Laugh. Play. Enjoy a movie. Share a story. There are memories to be made in these small, accessible acts.
You’ve got this momma. On we go.