Parenting is an exhilarating, challenging, hilarious, exhausting, beautifully messy responsibility and honor. This can be especially true as the long summer days seem to start with the tiniest ray of sun creeping into our window and extend until the fireflies dance the moon to bed. Whether your days as a parent are spent bandaging up boo-boos on toddling knees or laying awake listening for your baby to shuffle into the house at curfew with their adolescent grace, summer can feel both wonderfully and painfully infinite.
Yet, however long these summer days may feel, before you know it these short months of sweet summertime with be replaced with backpacks, books, and freshly sharpened number 2 pencils.
The Ice-Cream Truck
In the summertime, there is something magical that occurs when a child is outdoors, playing with neighbors, soaking up the sunshine…. and then is struck temporarily motionless by the distant melody of the soon arriving ice-cream truck. Quickly shaking out of their stuper, barefeet take off through the grass, burst into their homes and announce the imminent arrival of the ice-cream truck. They scrounge or plead for change, and if successful, just as quickly disappear, filled with hope and anticipation.
The following moments are filled with smiles and laughter, as those children attempt to savor their ice-cream before the hot summer sun melts it away & even once those summer treats are long gone, the sticky fingers tell their story.
As parents, we can learn from these kids. We can be parents delightfully savoring summer before it slips away and creating “sticky” memories that last a lifetime.
Here are 5 ways to savor your summer and make some sticky memories…
1. Be Present in the Moment
As a parent, life continues to go on, even in the summer time. There are projects at work, aging parents to care for, and bills to pay. It can be challenging to recognize a different pace in our children’s lives, when our pace has not changed. To better savor the summer, try to carve out some unhindered, unplugged time with your kids. Make your to-do list and then set it aside for some undivided memory-making time with your kids. The work will be there when you return. However, what will also be there is the love and value that you communicated to your child by showing them that they are a priority, worthy of your undivided attention.
2. Try Something New Together
A great way to create a “sticky” memory with your kids is to do something new together. You will always remember the first time they put their toes in the ocean, the first time they paddled a canoe, the first time they crossed the monkey bars, or the first time they explored the big city. There is a pretty good chance that they will too, and their memory will involve you!
3. Participate in Play
Whether it is pretending to be a pirate with your preschooler or shooting hoops with your middle schooler, “playing” can be a challenge for some parents. It can feel unnatural to be so uninhibited. We may feel more comfortable on the sidelines, cheering our child on or snapping a photo of their silly antics. However, play is the work of childhood. Try to step out of your comfort zone this summer, and join in this central part of their life.
4. Make the Most of the Mundane
Unfortunately, mundane tasks such as grocery shopping and yardwork do not take a summer vacation. Yet, kids can be invited into these daily chores during the summer time and can have a blast while doing so. Teach your child how to cook their favorite meal. Make a game out of cleaning. Grab some gardening gloves and make something grow together.
5. Read Together
Over the summer, many children regress in their academic skills. You can make an effort to not only avoid this summer slide, but make some great memories this summer by reading together. Perhaps you establish the habit of reading together every night before bed for the remainder of summer. Maybe you read your teen’s favorite book and they read your favorite book from when you were their age. You could even grab a stack of books and a blanket, and have a little reading time outside under a tree, on a porch swing, or in a garden. Sometimes a change of scenery makes all the difference.
Whatever you choose to do, savor what's left of summer. Soak it up, share some smiles, and make some “sticky” memories with your kids.
May this be the summer that your children reflect back on and say with beaming smiles “Remember when we…”