What Do We Do With Summer?

What do we do with the summer?  I want my daughter to have an old-fashioned summer, where she’s spending more time outside and in real relationships than on screen and in virtual ones.

“My daughter does better with structure.”  I hear this sentence constantly in my counseling office.  But, I also hear girls who talk about feeling overwhelmed, over-stressed and over-scheduled.  So, what’s the balance?  How do you help your daughter find enough time to play and grow her imagination, without using her extra time to become even more attached to screens?

  1. Teach balance.  As a family, talk about dividing your time between growth and rest, play and productivity.  Make sure to have activities on her calendar that lend themselvess to both.
  2. Send her outside.  She should have time every day that is outside.  Whether it’s organized sports or creative play, she needs time to soak up Vitamin D and stretch her muscles and mind in the great outdoors.
  3. Sign up for a camp.  Day camps and sleep-away camps are fantastic for girls.  Girls learn specific skills such as arts, sports, drama, and they learn bigger picture ideas such as social skills and independence that are crucial to who your daughter is becoming.  They’re also a great place for her to have others invest in her spiritually.
  4. Brave summer.  Girls also need to grow strong—not just physically, but emotionally.  Help her choose something this summer that will cause her to take a risk, and feel empowered by conquering a fear or something out of her comfort zone. 
  5. Schedule time for service.   Find something you can do as a family to help her give and experience making a difference in the life of someone else, whether it’s a regular time at a soup kitchen or a family mission trip.

Be strategic this summer.  Invest your and her time in who your daughter is becoming by giving her opportunities to grow her character, heart and faith.  You’ll both be glad you did.

“Left to his own devices, he’d stay glued to a screen.”  

I hear this statement weekly, sometimes daily, in my office.  It could be about a seven year old boy and his gaming system,  a twelve year old boy and an iPad, or a seventeen year and his cell phone.  The fear around a boy getting lost in a screen is even greater during the long days of summer.  When mapping out summer plans, I encourage parents to lean into four outlets a boy desperately needs.

  1. An outlet to test his mind - reading, art, music, films, building projects.
  2. An outlet to test his strength - sports, hiking, canoeing, biking, training for a 5K or 1 mile fun run.

3.  An outlet to feel risk and adventure - camping, indoor/outdoor climbing, white water rafting, building forts, and summer camps.

4.  An outlet to feel purpose - coaching a younger siblings team, reading to an elderly neighbor, delivering sack lunches to the homeless, walking pets a local animal shelter, and mission trips.  

Allowing boys an allotted amount of screen time per day or week in the summer months can teach regulation.  Having a set aside block of time also keeps parents from having to police his activity all throughout the day/week.   These outlets not only put limitations on his time in virtual activity, but they provide activity, movement and structure to the long summer days.