By, Dr. Liz Hale
Studio 5 Clinical Psychologist
If your family is in the traditional school system where kids are home for the summer, here’s a countdown for you. You have approximately 60 days, 18 hours, and 30 minutes left before school starts. (Not to ruin in or anything!) .
While some parents are in a panic that it’s all going much too fast, others are wondering, “How are we ever going to survive?” Studio 5 Clinical Psychologist Dr. Liz Hale provides help for creating the best of summer memories.
I recently received an e-mail from a listener in Bountiful. I think Kathryn echoes many moms along the Wasatch Front and other areas, as well, when she asked:
While I love my kids and enjoy spending time with them, the summer is SO long for me. Summer’s not even half-way over and I’m the one who’s bored! I must admit, I don’t enjoy 3 screaming, rambunctious kids and a friend-posse running around my house. How can I take back my interest in them without longing to take them back to school?”
I appreciate her honesty…not an easy thing to admit! A change of schedule, lack of personal time, and less order than usual is hard for many of us…it doesn’t mean that parents don’t love their children or that they are bad parents. I am a firm believer, however, that our thoughts dictate a great deal of our attitudes and behaviors.
It’s important to have the attitude that time goes fast, so embrace the moments and create times that you as a family will fondly look back on. And listen to the wisdom of someone who has gone before. Only a lovely grandmother can admonish a young mother to enjoy the moments of today.
Act with the Future in Mind
Ah, the joy and burden of hindsight. Get into the habit of asking yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now something that is going to bring my child closer to me or push them further away?” Many beautiful mothers and grandmothers will candidly admit, “I wish that when I was raising my young children, I could have seen through my grandmother-eyes of today. If so, I would have cleaned house less and played house more.”
There are so many demands on mothers at every turn- they need to make certain that their children eat right, sleep well, and learn what they need to know in order to succeed in relationships and life. A good grandma’s advice once rang true to me: “While everything still has to be done, but just go a little slower and look a little deeper into a child’s heart and see behind their actions.” For instance, ask yourself, “Are my kids really being disrespectful or are they just learning how to navigate the world and exert their own personal power?” A child’s behavior is almost always non-personal. Get curious, not furious.
We have so much to learn from each other. Our greatest hope is that each generation is more informed, and more insightful than the generation before. Be willing to learn from others! In addition to learning from others, it’s important to extend ourselves and involve others.
Extend Yourself and Involve Others
I personally know two very insightful sisters (and mothers) named Meggan and Krista, who find it especially helpful to have each other and their mother to bounce ideas off of, plan fun get-togethers, and learn what enticing activities for kids are going on in the community. These special times spent together as an extended family also create endearing memories for them, as well. Create that support for your family by reaching out to your own extended family or other families in the neighborhood.
Think of a progressive play-date with Moms in the neighborhood or in relatively close proximity. Perhaps you have a great outdoor jungle gym, another neighbor has a giant trampoline, and someone else has some shaded areas for a picnic. Combine your resources and creativity. Help your children learn to play with others…..so much learning is down outside of textbooks and the classroom.
I also suggest strongly that mothers, especially, need to teach their children to think and problem-solve.
Teach Thinking Skills
Book-learning is important but it is not the only way we learn. Teach your children how to think. Allow them to help you in the kitchen with planning the picnic, organizing a drawer, doubling a brownie recipe, or keeping a journal or scrap book of summer activities. Help them read from how-to books in an area that fascinates them.
With the Fourth of July coming up, combine your parenting skills with your patriotism. Invest in a wooden jigsaw puzzle, point out where other members of the family live. Give them a sense of our geography, and of all the space out there where they might do something, anything, everything! Kids need a sense of possibility, and our sea-to-shining- sea philosophy is a huge empowering promise. You don’t learn these skills from a flashcard.
Celebrate America’s (and their) Independence
Teach your children how 231 years ago America became independent. Teach them what “independence” means – taking care of yourself, setting your own rules, and providing for your own needs. Teach them history in a way they can comprehend. For instance, imagine how you would feel if someone older (like an older brother or sister) kept telling you what to do all the time and kept taking more and more of your allowance. (Some will have an easier time relating to that than others!) That is how the colonists felt leading up to 1776. They no longer wanted Great Britain to tell them what to do.”
Furthermore, teach your children about the Declaration of Independence and what it means to have equal rights to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Another important lesson that comes from signing the Declaration of Independence is to teach our children that those individuals who signed the Declaration risked being hung for treason by the leaders of Great Britain. They had to be very brave to sign something that could have cost them their lives to do so. Think about the courage it took for these people to stand up for what they knew was right. Talk about an important lesson for our children. Honor our troops and maybe even sit down and right them a thank you note for their tremendous service in assuring our continued independence. We must no longer be the silent majority and raise our voices in supporting all those who are responsible for our freedoms.
Dr. Liz Hale is a licensed clinical psychologist and a regular contributor to Studio 5.
You may contact Dr. Liz about her weekly segments or other questions you may have for her regarding her private practice at firstname.lastname@example.org.