Monday, July 2, 2007

Summer Food for Thought

Wow! It's finally summer and I'm getting back to my much neglected blog. Our family has been overwhelmed, to say the least, with activities and obligations in the last three months. End of school, end of soccer, end of piano lessons, end of marching band for my husband...and finally three days to enjoy on the lake with nothing but a tent and blow-up swim toys.

I was impressed with how my daughters handled a very unstructured vacation. There were no televisions, video games or computers, no shopping or organized craft time. There WAS swimming, sand, card games, books, fishing and marshmallows for roasting. We had no place to go and nothing to do. It was fantastic.

It seemed that the best parts of those three days for my girls included swimming and collecting shells, building a fort on their air mattress, eating toasty marshmallows from the fire, and playing UNO with their mom. We each won some games, even my 3-year-old who placed all her cards face up and was quite good at matching the numbers and colors.

Honestly, one afternoon I literally spent more than two hours in a beach chair with a good book as the kids wandered along the beach and ran in and out of the water. Heaven.

This reminded me that we don't need to orchestrate every minute of our children's lives. They will find ways to occupy their time creatively if we offer a positive environment and instill in them a sense of adventure. How do we do this? Get them out into nature. Take them to a park, a zoo, a local farm. Heck, have a picnic in your backyard. Bring along the "Go Fish!" game. Collect leaves and acorns. Go on a bug or frog hunt. Build a birdhouse out of a box. Visit a farmer's market and discuss the various colors and textures. Pick out something "exotic" to eat.

Summer can be what it is meant to be — a relaxing family time — or an extension of craziness from the school year. It's up to you. Other than swimming lessons, my girls are completely free to sleep late, color, swing, play with the neighbor kids, and be kids. That is, after they pick up their rooms!

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