After reading Lisa Lakey’s blog, 7 Ideas for Engaging with Your Kids This Summer, I began thinking about the plans I’ve made (or not) for spending time with my family this Summer.
I live in a cul-de-sac. The advantages of this are that my kids can play and ride their bikes and scooters pretty safely outside the house and I can easily keep an eye/ear out for them. The disadvantages: the neighbours see (and hear), everything. Everything. “I bet you’ll be glad when school starts again”, one of my neighbours commented to me during one scooting session last Summer. They were surprised by my answer. Ok, my kids were yelling and being a bit boisterous and ok, yes, they were fighting, a bit. But you know what? They are like that all year round, not just in the Summer! Actually I love the Summer holidays. Maybe it stems from being a former teacher, but I actually like spending time with my kids over the holidays! It’s great to be able to have conversations with them that don’t start with “Put your shoes on/Hurry up!/No you can’t take the cat to school”. Admittedly, by the end of 6 weeks, I am starting to look forward to a little bit of routine and structure again, but generally being free of the daily pressures of getting out of the house at a certain time, making lunches, ironing uniforms etc makes both me and them more relaxed. When we’re relaxed we all get along better.
So we’ve booked a Summer holiday away and that’s a great opportunity to spend time having adventures and new experiences together, especially if you have to work through the rest of the holidays. But I began thinking about what other things I could be doing to engage and reacquaint myself with my children. I love Lisa’s ideas about eating outdoors, especially with the amazing weather we’ve been having. I find when we eat outdoors, we all linger around the table a bit longer, even if the boys get up to resume a game of Swingball, we can still carry on our conversations, rather than everyone disappearing off to different rooms.
We’ll try and plan in some days out, I’ve made a mental note to let the children choose some of the things they want to do. If your spouse is working or you’re a single parent, this can sometimes be a bit daunting – why not get together with other friends or family who might also be on their own – they might be grateful for the company too. It’s also a good opportunity to spend some time one to one. I find it helps to plan this in! If you’ve got more than one child, or if you’re on your own, it does help to think ahead about how and when you’ll do this. You could always take the opportunity to draw in a grandparent, relative, godparent or friend to also spend some one to one time with your kids.
We’ll also do some things apart. But, we will make opportunities to come together at the end of the day or week and share our experiences. I’ll spend some time listening to my kids without distraction (something that happens too infrequently during term time).
This all sounds lovely, but you might be wondering, “How is this going to help my kids deepen their faith, or develop spiritually?”. When we spend time with our children, we show them that they are important to us, we have an opportunity to model our values and beliefs. We can give them a little window into our own relationships with God. We can encourage them in their relationships with other Christian friends or family members. Not every conversation has to be a power-packed, Jesus-filled deep and meaningful, but the more time and space we make for our children, the more we will begin to recognise those little opportunities where we can share more of God’s love, whether that’s through our words or actions. Yes there might be a few bedroom banishments, a few tantrums (from us and them), but Summer comes but once a year – let’s make the most of it!