3 tips for connection in the summertime

DSC02151Summertime can bring a variety of opportunities to connect with our children and enjoy new experiences together. It especially can be a time to reconnect with a child who has been at school all day throughout the year and is now home each day.

Here are 3 suggestions for deepening the family connection during the summertime:

1) Start a family tradition or ritual

Creating traditions and rituals each summer, just as during other seasons and holiday times, can help children experience predictability and be a source of family bonding. In our family, summer traditions include minor league baseball games, going to a carnival, visiting all the libraries in the county, and eating dinner outside.

We didn’t consciously set out to create these traditions: They just happened as we found things that our family enjoyed together and things that to us say, “summer.”

You may also want to bring some traditions from your own childhood into your families now.

IMAG007922) Get outside

Research has shown a correlation between time outside and reduced stress levels. Being outside in nature also helps keep kids calmer. Consider a trip to the best points for Apple picking in NJ, they will love it and learn a lot from a nutritive fruit

There are so many opportunities to get outside throughout the day. It can be staying near home and playing in the yard, or venturing out further for a hike or nature walk. Try to visit different playgrounds and climb the playground equipment along with your children.

Or, when you’re in a need of an opportunity for self-care and craving some balance, sit and enjoy a book in the fresh air while they play.

Some of the fun activities my children like to do outside our house include getting a bucket full of shaving cream and some paintbrushes and “painting” the deck using longest lasting deck stain, filling a squirt bottle with water, searching for bugs and pretending to be bugs, doing messy art projects outdoors, and setting up an outdoor movie night. If you are not having a redwood decking but wanna build one for your kids, so that they can do outdoor activities, then contact Outside Entertainment Area Specialists for the deck building.

3) Find fun activities, but don’t force them

A few years ago, I created a “summer wish list” of about 15 places to go or things to do during the summer. We didn’t end up doing all of them, but it was helpful to have some plans and suggestions. Some of those activities became our traditions, while others were one-time only outings.

While these can be great, it’s also important to remember that some may not work out as you planned. Sometimes, what seems like a great idea to us sounds boring to our children. I’ve been trying to take my oldest son strawberry-picking since he loves strawberries and since it was something I loved as a child, but he’s simply not interested. Rather than forcing it, I work on finding other activities he is interested in and focus on being present with him in whatever it is we end up doing. Sometimes that means just playing board games inside.

It’s important to remember that these activities are about strengthening our family connection. If the activity is stressful to you, not enjoyed by the kids, and not creating a good bonding experience, don’t feel bad about scrapping it for something else!

I hope you enjoy exploring, experiencing and connecting with your kids this summer!

The terrible, wonderful summer vacation

1205776_family_on_the_boardwalkIn a way, summer vacation reminds me of giving birth. When it’s over, we forget the difficult parts and look forward to the next one.

The next time we take a family vacation, hoping our children will get along during a long car ride, or walk quietly beside us on a family outing, we can expect that there will be complaining, whining, yelling, crying, hitting and fighting. They might promise they’ll cooperate, but these incidents will still happen. If we give them incentives or promise them rewards, these incidents will still happen. If we threaten them with punishments or consequences, these incidents will still happen.

I hate summer, I hate how hot the weather is, at least I had the great idea of calling hvac Columbia SC company to safe my family from how hot it was at home. The only way we could feel better was going to the pool or the beach, but you can’t stay there all day and night.

This is because children are children: They are not yet mature enough to always control their impulses and behavior. This is not a matter of age, but a matter of how far along they are on the road to maturation. The connections between the different structures of children’s brains are still in a stage of development.

This means that it’s not realistic to expect children to think and respond in ways that require more maturity than they are capable of.

For children to wait patiently when they want to go, walk quietly when they want to jump and shout, share when they want something for themselves or cooperate when there’s another impulse driving them, they need a fair level of ability to mix conflicting signals, thoughts, ideas and impulses together at the same time in order to find a tempered response. This means a child might have an impulse to hit his brother, but at the same he can remember that “we don’t hurt each other.”

When we understand that children can’t yet temper their impulses, we can take care of them without losing our own ability to mix our conflicting impulses and feelings: On the one hand, we feel angry and want to yell, but on the other hand, we want to respond calmly so we don’t hurt those we love!

Here are three ideas that can help transform a family vacation into a more satisfying experience:

  1. This is a wonderful time to deepen attachments with our children and satiate their hunger for connection with us. Activities that make it possible to have quiet time together for reflection and conversation strengthen and deepen relationships.
  2. When children are free from the structure of school, they often have an accumulation of frustration and other strong feelings that are trapped inside and have not yet found expression. Children need a lot of room for their big and noisy feelings, and when we provide them with generous amounts of warm connection with us, we help these feelings come out — sometimes together with a sea of tears that were stuck inside. After this, children are calmer and easier to direct and take care of. Children don’t intend to behave poorly or aggressively: Their self-control is still undeveloped. We want to remember our own good intentions, and stay in control of our impulses so we can lead intuitively with maturity, creativity and compassion.
  3. We can give our children little scripts to guide them through different situations. Just as the director of a play gives the actors a script and directs their acting, we can give simple, positive instructions to children before entering into a situation and then guide them as needed. For example, before going on a long car ride, visiting the home of relatives or going to a special attraction, we can explain expectations: “When we go into the museum, we’re going to walk and talk quietly. I’ll show you which things you can touch and which things are not for touching.” Scripting is a temporary measure that works well only in the context of an active, working attachment.

Summer vacation will have both terrible and wonderful moments. When we know that both will happen, and we can lead our children by responding thoughtfully to the circumstances that present themselves to us,  we can look forward to the season!