I initially thought I’d put a tagline on the title–something like, Parenting Your Kids Away from Selfishness–but then I thought, ya know, these concepts are really for everyone. For the first time in several years, I’m not teaching a summer course for Regent U. At first, I wasn’t overly excited, since I get paid per course I teach, but after encouragement from my mom, I choose to see this time off as a gift–a blessing. I’ve been praying for the last month that I wouldn’t waste my time or fritter it away on selfish endeavors that serve no eternal purpose. In addition, I want to focus on the kids in ways I just can’t during the school year, enjoying them, playing with them, reading to them, and disciplining them.
My daughter is actually the one who took the lead. She came to me a few months ago and said, “Mom, I want to do a summer fair to raise money. I could make crafts and bake and paint.” Most nine-year-olds would aspire to earn for their own purposes. Now, don’t get me wrong, my daughter does love to spend money on outings, but she’s also extremely generous. Her motivation for this PR event wasn’t fueled by personal desires. She is giving everything away to Compassion International to help feed other kids, physically and spiritually. So far, she’s raised over $300 to supply clean water, meals and discipleship to kids across the globe–thank you to everyone who has participated by buying something or donating to her summer Walk for Water!
That said, I want this summer to be intentional, but not busy. Despite what churches may promote, one is not necessarily tied to another. We can be running around like crazy people, involved in everything, and still not be living life on purpose. I detest the idea of slothful apathy, and certainly don’t want my kids staring at a computer or TV screen on their months off, but I don’t feel the need to run to every event and opportunity that presents itself either.
*For us, being intentional, means 1-2 playdates a week (since the majority of us are introverted and need more time at home to recharge).
*No scheduled weekly events. (I won’t get on my soapbox, but I believe organized sports can destroy the family unit–stealing family-dinner time and creating a child-centered home).
*Exercise of the body and the mind, focusing on renewing. Rest doesn’t mean a lack of discipline. Memorizing Scripture and getting our bodies healthy requires focus.
*Time reading and playing games together. I’m amazed at how educational games can be (i.e. Bananagrams, Scrabble, Nerts, Rummy, Boggle, Bandits, Doodle Dice, Pictionary, etc.)
*Space during the week to “get bored.” Although I actually don’t allow this word–well, if I hear it, I hand the kids a chore–but pushing out margin within a day allows kids the time to ponder, ask questions, and get creative.
*I enjoy “what if” questions and give art/drawing and writing prompts.
*And time to serve. (I don’t want the kids to think summer is all about us, but about ministering to those who need help–physically and spiritually). Your kids don’t have to sell stuff; perhaps they are older and can volunteer at a nursing home or homeless shelter. Maybe they could mow the lawn of a widow or bake cookies for an ill neighbor.
“Keeping children stimulated is indeed important to growth and learning, but our obsession with keeping children busy has swung too far in the other direction.Think about how you feel when you are stressed and pulled in too many directions. Children absolutely feel stress too, but are not great at recognizing their need for a break and/or are not in control of their schedules to make time to decompress. When children are constant going, going, going….their stress levels can rise. Being a child is not only physically exhausting, but emotionally exhausting. Their brains are working overtime to absorb and process social situations, information, observations, and their own assessments of each event! It’s tiring just thinking about. We adults need a break from the constant input of stimulation (that’s what lunch breaks are supposed to be for), but children are still learning to listen to their own unique body cues and count on adults to help them find their rhythm. Schedule in a rest time each day for your child.” Taesha Butler