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Your Mission: Summer Sanity

This week’s post comes from writer and speaker, Ellen Mongan. 

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Mom, does keeping sane this summer sound like “Mission Impossible”? Does the thought of having the children home for the summer have you imagining an escape to a  deserted island? Are you already signing your children up for every vacation bible school and summer camp you can find? Are you searching the want ads for a summer job to have time with adults? I have good news for you. I have survived summertime with seven children for decades. After successfully raising seven children, I can confidently say that summertime can be the biggest blessing of your year. You will not only keep your sanity, but you will enjoy yourself. You may even be sad to see your children return to school.

How do you make your summer come alive? A successful summertime does not just happen; it requires planning and preparation. It’s easy to let your children wake up at noon and vegetate in front of the TV, X-box, or computer all day except to eat or use the bathroom. However, what is the fruit of that? Have they grown physically or mentally, or just lazier and more self-centered? I use summer to challenge them to “be the best they can be!” I took the job of training them seriously. I trained them physically by making them responsible for chores. I trained them mentally by teaching  them how to read and study school work. I encouraged them to grow in character. There is an old saying, “If you don’t aim, you will miss the target every time.” Begin today, Mom, and make a summer plan. Summer is upon us!

How to begin?

First, buy a four-subject notebook. On the top of the first page write “Summer Goals.” Then write each child’s name with three headings underneath: Physical Goals, Character Goals, and Mental Goals.

Next, determine your goals for each child. Meet with each child individually to talk about the areas to work on over the summer. For instance with teenagers who may have trouble with their language and use of the tongue, suggest they work on being kind and patient with others. If the child is in middle school, suggest they run a mile daily and kep track of their times. This is their physical goal. By improving their time they may even make the school track team. In dealing with a first grader suggest they read a book every week. This is an example of a mental goal. Finally, have them write their personal goals in the notebook under Summer Goals. In an effort to teach commitment and responsibility, don’t nag them about attaining their goal.

The next section in your notebook is titled, “Family Goals”. To decide on the family goals call a family meeting and let all ideas be thrown on the table. Every idea is considered and then the family makes a decision on which to include. These become the goals for the family. The family goals and the personal goals change every year. Here is an example:

  1. Clean the house.
  2. Serve others once a week.
  3. Exercise daily.
  4. Read daily.
  5. Organize closets and drawers.
  6. Weekly fun day.

In the same way you choose family goals, pick Fun activities. Each week choose something such as:

  • Visit the zoo
  • Go to a theme park
  • Visit a museum
  • Rent DVDs
  • Go to the beach
  • Play miniature golf
  • Go bowling
  • Rent a jet ski
  • Go go-carting
  • Go rock-climbing
  • Go to a park
  • Go out for lunch
  • Go to an indoor play center
  • Go to the YMCA
  • Visit the library
  • Have fun with friends
  • Buy an inexpensive toy
  • Do some family water games in the yard (e.g. water balloon fights!)

Title the third part “Family Projects”. After brainstorming together make a list of projects to accomplish over the summer. These projects can be as simple as cleaning a closet or as big as painting a room. Include projects that help one grow in character. Maybe bring a meal to a widow in the neighborhood, or plant a garden, or weed the yard? The first step to getting something accomplished is to make a list. Mom, dream big! Many hands make light work!

Title the fourth section “Things to Do”. These are the family’s favorite activities that build fond family memories and a close-knit family. For example:

  1. Family game or a movie night
  2.  Visit grandparents
  3. Buy school supplies
  4. Take a family vacation

I have traveled down the road of summertime with seven children for many years. Using a notebook in this way has been successful in forming my children. Yes, a lot of planning, preparation, and love will result in a wonderful summer. The most essential thing needed for a sane summer is a sense of humor. I would not begin summer without it. Mom, don’t let summertime overwhelm you; lighten up instead! As you care for these blessings, our children, kick off your shoes and learn to enjoy the sunshine. Laughter can work like a medicine even if it rains on the day you chose to go to the beach. Learn to be creative and flexible. As you see the thunder clouds begin to form, change your fun day plan to having an indoor picnic. Don’t forget to smile!

So Mom, this is your mission if you decide to take it. The rewards are great. I can promise you, not only will your children grow in character but you will grow too. Your home will become better ordered and more peaceful. Best of all Mom, you and your children will have made memories that will last a lifetime. So, turn off the television, the X-box, and the computer. Roll up your sleeves and get out the four subject notebook. Moms, are you ready? Get ready, set, now go! Let the summer begin! Bring on the children!

photo credit: DSC_0415 via photopin (license)

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