Friday, May 1, 2009

What Kind of Summer Will You Have?

Have you realized that there is less than one month left before school is out for most kids? As busy Family Managers, it may have slipped your mind and has just crept up on you!

Have you thought about how you would like to see your kids develop this summer? Do you have any plans yet on how you are going to keep them busy and entertained as well as help them develop qualities that will send them "back to school" smarter, happier, and more confident? A great summer won't just happen by itself. It will take some work and effort on your part as the Family Manager.

I have some GREAT Family Manager tips and tools that will help you do just that! These months are ripe with opportunity for you to help your kids grow in positive ways, to explore and learn new things together, and to make positive memories that will last a lifetime.

First Things First:
The first thing you need to do as a good Family Manager is make a plan for success! You do this by 1) Aiming High, 2) Consult the Experts, 3) Set Aside Time to Plan, 4) Network & Maximize Your Resources, while 5) Remaining Flexible.

1. Aim High - There are four developmental areas where you have the opportunity to help them grow. They are: intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. Think about where your children are in each of these areas; then use the Summertime Development Chart to help you set some goals and nudge your kids toward them.

2. Consult the Experts - Parents should not just automatically assume what your kids will be interested in or what they want to do. Therefore, convene a family meeting BEFORE summer begins and talk about ideas for goals for each child.

You can use the Ideas for Summer Fun and Learning List to find out what they would most like to be doing and learning about. What special abilities or interests would they like to develop? Even preschoolers will have their own ideas. By letting them take part and have some say in the planning process, you are showing them that you care about their interests and feelings. They will feel like they are important and that their opinion matters, which boosts their confidence and self-esteem. You can even have older children do research either on the internet or via community resources for events and activities taking place during the summer months.

3. Set Aside Time to Plan - After your kids have voiced their desires and opinions, find some quiet time to make a list of potential summer activities that are in harmony with your goals for your children's growth, their desires and interests, your budget and resources. While you are planning, you will also want to keep in mind your own time and availability.

Use your list, along with the ideas to help you plan fun activities for each day and/or week. The Weekly Planner and Summer Daily Hit List will help you organize your ideas and activities so you can plan each week/day. It is important to include free time every day so you AND your kids don't feel schedule bound. Also, make sure you plan some activities with other moms and kids so you will have some adult company while the kids play.

4. Network and Maximize Your Resources - It is important to realize that you cannot do everything yourself! Make it a point to network with other parents and maximize the resources in your community.

  • Plan group activities with other parents from your neighborhood, church, etc. You could plan a group picnic and have family games for all ages.
  • Research children's programs in your area, including: summer classes offered through your local library, museum, YMCA, parks & recreation departments, community clubs and centers. Sports programs offered by schools, gyms, or clubs. Vacation Bible school and youth programs offered by churches and synagogues.
  • Summer Camps. Everybody needs a break - including your kids. There are many excellent camps across America, including those run by churches, and athletic associations.
  • Trade out lessons with parents with different abilities and gifts from yours. If you enjoy baking, schedule a time to show your child and theirs how to bake a great cake or cookies. If you've got a green thumb, host a session with the kids about gardening or plant care. Another parent could hold a sewing or woodworking class or teach pre-teen girls about skin care and makeup.

5. Be Flexible - Don't be rigid about the summer schedule or expect perfection. Be ready with Plan B because what looks doable at the beginning of the week may not be right when Friday arrives. Then there is always the chance of inclement weather, or maybe you or your child is just having an "off" day and is too cranky to participate in that day's planned activity.

At the same time, changes in plans can be disappointing to children. When an activity has to be changed suddenly, make sure you take time to talk about why the plans had to change.

"A Schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days . . ." -- Annie Dillard

Look for more Summer Survival tips and strategies in my upcoming blogs. If you would like a copy of the Family Manager tools referenced in this blog, please contact me.

**The information presented here was taken from Family Manager CEO, Kathy Peel's book: The Family Manager's Guide to Summer Survival

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