Investing in Family: The Summer Challenge

Investing in Family: The Summer Challenge

As my girls' school year winds down for the summer, I began to think of ways to challenge them during the summer months, and I developed a program I call “The Summer Challenge.” You see, I’ve noticed in the past that it's too easy to go from a year of school and scheduled activities into full-blown lazy summer mode. While I do believe there is definitely room for some well-earned relaxed, do-nothing days (it is summer, after all!), I also think summer can be an opportunity for moms to invest in their children and families.

From unplugging to reading, here are two challenges that can promote both good habits and quality time together. My challenge to you, if you choose to accept it, is to involve your children in the following:

Go Unplugged

Going unplugged is not a new idea by any means; the notion of keeping the television, computer and video gaming device off for a certain period of time has been around long enough to have earned its own week, “National Unplugged Week” (often in April).

However, my idea is to unplug periodically throughout the summer. In my opinion, there is no better time to try unplugging than when the weather is warm and endless opportunities abound outdoors.

To participate, challenge yourself and your children to go a day or more without any sort of electronic entertainment. Try this once, twice, weekly or the whole summer (for you brave moms out there!).

  • Complete Family Activities: In place of your children's standard frantic manipulation of game controls or mute Sponge Bob viewing, you could suggest family-friendly activities, those things that you and your children can do together.
  • Encourage Your Children's Creativity: You may also wish to encourage your children to seek, find or create activities that they can do on their own.
  • (Strongly) Suggest Outdoor Play: Encouraging them to play outside with friends in unstructured play can foster creativity – and give mom a little break!

Although the television can have its place as a babysitter of sorts (yes, I've been there and done that as well), turning it off and keeping it off for a period of time can enable your kids to explore the world around them, spend quality time with you, and use their creativity to occupy their time.

Book 'Em, Dan-o

Simply put, books are awesome tools for child development (and adult development!). Books can teach our children about anything and everything they wish to know. Additionally, books can make us laugh, cry and think, and they can transport us to places near and far. They are great conversation starters, and they can foster imagination and desire to learn.

To take advantage of all that books offer – once you've hidden the remote – you could try the other part of "The Summer Challenge": upping the book-reading ante in your home. Here, you can challenge your children to pick up a book or two (and hopefully instill a love of books and an enjoyment of reading in your children) in the following ways:

  • Younger Children: Read to younger kids daily, and encourage them to choose the books they'd like to peruse.
  • Older Children: For the older kids, you can make books and time to read readily available.
  • Tweens and Teens: To foster reading in this group, you could pick out and read the same book, and then have your own "book club" to discuss it.

Taking time to help nourish your children's reading potential now can reap great benefits throughout the rest of their lives.

As the long days of summer approach, you may wish to think about how to incorporate more reading and less electronic entertainment into your family's summer routine. Spending quality time with your children and instilling some nice values into their lives is a great summertime challenge.

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cashflowmantra's picture

cashflowmantra wrote:

Thu, 06/16/2011 - 13:03 Comment #: 1

I am fortunate in that my kids love to play outside and really don't spend a lot of time watching television on a relative basis. Sure they watch some in the mornings while trying to wake up or later in the evening while winding down before bed, but they do get a lot of exercise.

 Links And Proof | Minting Nickels 's picture

Links And Proof | Minting Nickels wrote:

Sun, 06/19/2011 - 16:17 Comment #: 2

[...] presents us with a summer challenge to unplug and read a bit more.  I think I could handle [...]

Angela England's picture

Angela England wrote:

Sat, 12/31/2011 - 01:28 Comment #: 3

My mom had a great way of "strongly suggesting" outdoor play when we were growing up. It went something like "Go outside and don't come back in for at least an hour!" Lol! Usually we would wind up playing all afternoon before I we realized it - we just needed the push start to get us out the door.