“I can’t believe it’s already the 4th of July!” can be heard in almost every exchange leading up to yesterday’s Independence Day Celebration. Time always whizzes by and for many of us this holiday marks the middle of summer. Most of us are now immersed in the tastes, smells and feelings that summer break carry. We are not yet tired of firing up the grill (although our kids have definitely had their fair share of hot dogs already). We’re still liberally applying sunblock on our children’s bodies. I am still planting annual flowers due to all the strange spring weather we had…not to mention the winter clothes that still took up space in our mud room only a week ago!
But somehow, this point in the summer also finds us clinging onto these moments and recognizing that it will not last forever. If you were like us, we made lists back at the beginning of June of the meaningful memories we had hoped to create this summer. Vacations we planned on taking, camps the kids were attending, swim team suits were ordered and all signs of school disappeared…maybe supplies and papers are still in the backpack that came home on the last day of school. Even those who dove right into summer school can now retire those folders for another month.
Something at this point that also finds its way into many of us who have school age children is a little bit of anxiety that we are running out of time. All our goals for the summer might not look as realistic anymore; summer camps started so quickly we’ve hardly caught our breath, dance recitals took over, high school sports camps filled older kids’ time and in many homes baseball is still going on! If you’re like me I’m trying to stay calm, breath deep and cherish these late summer evenings with our kids; whether we are giving them ten more minutes to swim in a pool only illuminated by a light under the diving board, watching them chase fireflies, enjoying their last s’more at a bonfire or negotiating sleepovers with a neighbors. The nights are late and we are tired but take pause and cherish the now…as you wrangle a child inside and maybe carry one to bed. Deeply inhale that distinct smell of bug spray, chlorine, sunblock and sweat. You might even get to scrub a few filthy feet before tucking them into their comfy bed.
At this point in the summer, as the calendar takes a turn it is not too late to revisit the goals you set earlier. Now that swim, tennis, park district camps and other scheduled events begin to wind down, set a new plan for the lazier dog-days to come.
Last May I heard a fabulous speaker
talk about “maximizing your family’s summer”. What I took away from it most was to allow each family member the opportunity to share their one thing they must to do before summer ends (within reason). Some ideas might be to take a day trip to the dunes, Great America
or Navy Pier
. Last summer we pitched a family sized tent in our back yard and for several nights we all slept outside…that’s on our list to do again this summer. Pick a day outing maybe with one of your children and go miniature golfing or a full 18 holes! Whatever it is, listen, discuss and plan. Put it down on the calendar so that when August creeps up you know you have fully taken advantage of the month of July and there are no regrets.
One other take-away I had from this wise presenter was to take inventory before and after as to how each family member might grow in four specific areas.
1) Physical….learn to ride a bike or learn to do an “inward” on the diving board.
2) Mental/Emotional…. develop communication reading skills or possibly take a risk and do something emotionally challenging.
3) Relational…make a new friend or have a special outing with a sibling, and lastly
4) Spiritual…engage in activities or habits that develop gratitude through a mission or service project opportunities.
However you spend this magical month of July, pay attention to the desires of your children’s’ hearts, be sure to include your own, incorporate your family’s values and definitely engage in discussions addressing how you each have become a better person throughout this summer.
- What did you do today to make someone happy?
- What did someone do to make you happy?
- What did you learn today?
Try it and may those questions carry on past the summer and into every day each season brings. Time does go fast, but there really are so many little moments that have potential for spectacular and meaningful memories.