When my son, Marky, was a little boy, one Saturday morning he showed me his ball and glove and said, “Dad, let’s play baseball.” Of course, since I’m Mr. Family Man, I said, “Sure, son.” Right? Wrong. I said, “I don’t have time right now. I’m fixing the toilet. Just give me a few minutes.” Well, the minutes turned into hours and when I was ready to play ball that afternoon, my son said, “No thanks, Dad.”
A memory-making opportunity was missed. Fortunately, I learned quickly from that mistake and did my best not to miss an opportunity like that again. Summer is a fantastic time for spending even more time with our children and for making memories with them. Several years ago, it hit me that the window of opportunity for making those memories, and making the most of our summers as a family, is actually pretty small. If we consider that a child does not remember much from his toddler years and that it’s tougher to corral our older teens for summer fun, then we probably have 10-12 summers together to make memories.
So here are some thoughts to help you give your family your very best this summer. You’ve probably heard the expression, “Stop, drop, and roll.” It’s something you’re supposed to do to protect yourself when your clothes catch on fire. Well, when you want to protect family time, you should stop, drop, and roll.
STOP being connected to work 24/7.
Giving your family your best in the summer is in many ways about making yourself available to them more. Maybe you can give yourself permission to be disconnected a little more from work thereby making it easier to be reconnected and available at home. Even though the summer is a time that tempts me to sleep in more than usual, a few years ago I made a commitment to get up earlier than normal during the summer. This allowed me to get to work earlier, get things done, and then get home earlier and have more time in the late day and evenings with the kids.
DROP the phones, tablets, and other tech devices that keep you from your family.
If you’re like me, it’s easier sometimes to stay plugged in all the time. I find it’s helpful to limit my tech time to specific hours of the day. This is helpful during those regular days and nights in summer, but especially important during vacation times. When I’m on vacation, I need to be especially aware of being present with my family…that’s where a lot of memories are being made. If you have teens, How to Be Available for Parenting Teenagers may provide you with some further insight.
ROLL with it!
Remember how frustrated Clark Griswold would get in those Vacation movies when things didn’t go like he planned? I know I’ve felt that frustration before. But let’s face it, our summer plans rarely go off without a hitch. Our kids’ memories are not just recording what happens in our families, but how we react to what’s happening. On vacation. On a normal day. So roll with the unexpected, and try to be loose and at least a little bit spontaneous. You’ll all have a lot more fun and create more memories.
How will you give your family your best this summer? Please share your thoughts in a comment below.
Summer is a fantastic time for spending even more time with our children and for making memories with them.