As a kid, I vowed to be “the fun mom,” taking my kids on surprise adventures, not worrying about dirty floors or chores, and saying “yes” to the occasional ice-cream cone. Well, turns out I’m even more practical than my mom: we can’t afford the constant summer outings, I’m a germaphobe about sticky floors, and my children are lactose intolerant. But I’m not giving up just yet!
Even though I’m still teaching summer sessions for Regent, my month-long break in July promises rest and recharging. And I want to be intentional. Two years ago, I asked God if He’d give me an idea to meet my passion. This January the start of that project was completed and Navigating a Sea of Emotions set sail. A few days ago, I asked Him, “What do you want me to do this July?” I barely took a breath before I sensed His answer: just enjoy your children. Spend time having fun with them.
You see, as a home-school mom, I spend 12-hour shifts with my children, but I’m teaching, training, disciplining, and coaching them through every aspect of their learning. We don’t spend much time just playing together. A few days ago, I surprised them by taking them into Dunkin Donuts: they thanked me like I’d never done anything adventurous, surprising, or treat-oriented for them. Although I greatly appreciated their gratitude, I realized our summer needs to be marked with more “dee-dah” moments–times of escape and fun. Not to spoil them or even spend more money than we have, but just to remind them: “I enjoy you. You are worth spending time with. I want to make fun memories with you.”
So, I’m working on a list for July. Life can grind me down to this highly responsible, dull person, but I’m trying to overcome my anal, task-oriented, overly-practical temperament and just let loose on occasion. At this moment, all three are screaming and fighting and the last thing I feel like doing is sitting and playing a game with them. But, I’m asking God to shift my priorities, if even just for a month, and help me to recognize the free moments I have that don’t need to be spent cleaning or organizing. Yes, I have my other job, and no, my children aren’t the center of the Hanley house, but they are gifts, and I am starting to grasp how quickly they are growing up. They won’t always want to spend time with me, so I need to capture these moments.
I’m posting these ideas to hold myself accountable. No, I don’t have to be “the fun mom”all year: I’m not striving to be my kids’ best buddy either. At times I have to be extremely structured, but I don’t have to always be the militant teacher either. So, cheers to the balance.
Make Coconut Ice Cream
Visit a local patisserie
Visit Farmer’s Markets
Play frisbee or ball together
Make Creation art books
Picnic in the park
Have a camp-out in the living room
Reading together: go to the library regularly/ escape to new worlds. Try out this list.
Christmas celebration in the summer (July 25th): make gingerbread men, listen to Christmas music, watch Elf.
Take day-trips with Daddy (find family-friendly places a few hours away).
Go to a drive-in movie
Bike at the park
Go to free concerts at the Landing
Create a new recipe
Have an International night, including music, meal, and fun facts about the chosen country
Put together a photo album
Make a play-doh zoo of animals
Build a castle out of cardboard
Take a hike
Write an adventure story
Go on a canoe trip