Monday, July 20, 2009

Five Tips for Surviving the Summer

When I am around mainstream parents, both here online, and out there in meatspace, I often hear griping about their kids being out of school for the summer. Oh, some kids go to camp, and some go to daycare, but there are a lot of parents who seem to be very unhappy to be spending extra time with their kids during summer vacation.

This obviously isn't a problem here. We are together all the time, and for the most part enjoy it. Summer is actually the best because we can go outside whenever we want a lot more easily than in the winter. I have been thinking a bit lately about those parents whose views are so different from ours and thought I might give them some advice, so here it goes!

Five Tips for Surviving Summer Vacation with Your Kids

1. Change your terminology! It may sound simple, but simply changing the words that you both use and think can help change your whole frame of mind. Do not worry about surviving the summer, instead think about how to make sure that each member of your family shines through the summer! Summer is the perfect time to cement relationships with the other members of your family regardless of their ages. Focus on shining, and bringing out each person's best, and your positive attitude is sure to rub off on all!

2. Make a list. That's right. Make a list, and while you're at it go ahead and check it twice! List fun activities that you think your kids might like to do. List fun things that you want to do! List things that your partner has been talking about or excited about in the past (if you have a partner, if you don't, count your blessings that you don't have to consider their thoughts too. It is always best to look on the bright side.) When you need to get away, or the kids are bored, or there is a rainy day, or an unexpected sunny day after a rainy day, pull out the list! In our family, we all have so many interests and things that we want to do, but we often forget them when opportunity strikes. Don't let that happen to you.

3. Don't be afraid to ignore the list! That's right. After making a list, and checking it twice, remember that this is your children's summer vacation and perhaps the best thing that you can provide for them is freedom! Let your kids stay up late and then sleep late the next day if they want. Let them have breakfast at 1 pm, and dinner at midnight. Take a 2 am run to the 24 hour grocery for emergency ice cream. If you've planned a trip to the zoo, and realize at the last minute that a trip to the beach is what the kids really want, change your plans, grab your suits and towels, and head to the beach! You may not be committed to a full time unschooling lifestyle, but summer vacation is the perfect time to give your kids a taste of the freedom that unschooling kids have everyday.

4. Cultivate interests. School can be all consuming, and the standard curriculum greatly limits the things that your kids spend their time on during the school year. Many kids want nothing other than to veg out in front of the TV after they get home. When kids are feeling refreshed in the summer, it may be the perfect time for the projects and learning that don't fit with that standard curriculum. Does your thirteen year old have a passion for science? Strew your house with science related books from the library and enlist their help in stocking a laboratory in the basement. How about your ten year old who has been talking about trying out for a play? See what theater opportunities are available in your neck of the woods. If you can't find anything that meets her needs, see if you can gather together some neighborhood kids for an impromptu theater project.

5. Play. The absolutely best thing that you can do for your kids this summer vacation is to play with them! Share in their interests and their fun. Be a part of their lives, and you will create relationships with them that will last a lifetime.

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