As school ends and another summer break begins, with its roughly 80 sun-soaked days stretching out ahead of us, are you feeling a little anxious and wondering why?
Well, here’s why. Summer is supposed to be the best time of the year. The anticipation as been building for months. And now you’re in charge of making the magic happen. Eek.
Frankly, I think we put too much pressure on summer, and therefore on ourselves.
First, let me say that my vision for my family is a three month stretch of simple pleasures; I love nothing more than having my backyard full of sweaty, laughing, lemonade-drinking, kickball-playing kids. And yes, my children are all doing some day camps, and we have some trips planned, and we’ll host as many guests as we can convince to come and see us because I love nothing more than serving breakfast to a kitchen full of friends and family!
And this year, I have one more plan for summer that I’ve been hatching ever since I taught a cooking class to my daughter’s Girl Scout troop last fall. When I taught that class, I was shocked by how little my own then-10-year old knew about kitchen tools and cooking techniques. (And she has a mom who loves to cook and does it every day!) Chastened, I started paying more attention to how many tasks she knew how to do around the house. The short answer? Not enough.
It wasn’t her fault, either. It was mine! Our children today spend so much of the year in kid-centric environments – school, sports activities, music lessons, and the like – that it’s actually becoming difficult for them to participate in the daily rhythms of life.
They don’t know what it takes to run a household because they’re never home long enough to see those tasks being performed! Moreover, as parents, we often won’t slow down long enough to show them how it’s done. We’re so busy rushing around that we just want to get things done quickly, which usually means doing them ourselves.
Why not use this summer as a golden opportunity to share your world with your child?
In fact, perhaps you could think of your children as apprentices in one life skill or another for these few months. There is so much they could learn, with you as their teacher.
Could they learn to…
Cook a few dishes
Plan meals for the week
Vacuum or dust
Make a bed correctly
Weed and water the flower beds
Mow the lawn
Clean the fish tank
Organize a closet
Volunteer for a cause
Plan a short trip
Wash the car
Ask them! I’ll bet you’ll be amazed by what they’re eager to try. They’ll also appreciate all the things you do every day even more once they realize what it takes to keep a household running. And if you’re really lucky, they’ll pitch in more throughout the year using their new skills!
These children of ours? They’re sponges, and they learn by doing.
So this summer, amid the camps and sleepovers, the s’mores and lemonade stands, the beach vacations and the days at the pool, carve out some time to teach your child a skill he or she will have forever. They’ll love the one on one time with you and you’ll love seeing them show off their new capabilities.
It’ll be a summer to remember, and there will still be plenty of time for s’mores.
Questions: Do your children already have jobs to do around the house? How did they learn to do them? What new skills might you teach them this summer?
This post first appeared on this blog in June 2015.