Summertime can be a much-needed break from our overly scheduled lives. This summer, resist the temptation to fill up your summer schedule with activities. Instead, try these ideas to truly enjoy those beautiful summer days, giving yourself and your children the gift of slowing down and being more present.
1. Make Time for Free Play
In their tightly scheduled worlds, children need time to be children. Research shows that unstructured free play offers children incredible benefits that they may be missing when they are routinely placed in organized activities. Harvard research shows that this free play is not only fun, but it also helps children build critical intellectual, social, emotional and physical skills.
This summer, allow your children unstructured playtime with: (1) choice (autonomy to decide what they want to do and how they want to do it); (2) wonder (time for creating, exploring, pretending, and imagining); and (3) delight (time for laughter, silliness, and ease). (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
2. Moms Need to Play Too!
Like our children, we also have overly-scheduled, busy lives. One great way to unwind and role model healthy living for your child is to enjoy some playtime yourself! By prioritizing downtime and play for yourself, you are showing your child the importance of fun, relaxation and laughter. So enjoy a hobby, play a game, laugh more and do less this summer.
3. Welcome Boredom
We are all accustomed to constant stimulation. As soon as things slow down, we often hear complaints of being bored. But don’t be so quick to fill that void with an activity. In fact, studies show that boredom has great benefits, allowing children (and adults) time for the mind to wander, room for contemplation, spurring creativity and enjoying a little daydreaming. So let go of the idea that you have to fill your children’s days with planned activities and let them be bored. You will be amazed at what creative ideas kids can come up with to fill their time.
4. Be Mindful Together
One great activity to do together this summer is practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness allows us the time to pause and be present. There is no greater gift we can give our children than our undivided attention and our presence. Mindfulness also helps children develop executive function and self-regulation skills . Here are some fun mindful activities to enjoy together.
The Listening Game – Take a few minutes wherever you are to stop and listen to the sounds all around you. Close your eyes, still your body and just check out all of the sounds coming from far away, from nearby and even from your own body. Take a mental note of all the sounds. After a minute or two, open your eyes and share with each other what you heard.
How Slow Can You Go? See how slowly you can eat just one bite of food, or how slowly you can walk from one point to another. There are endless possibilities for slowing down during your day. You can do this with almost anything. Notice how it feels to slow down and how much self control it takes.
What’s New? Wherever you are, you can discover new things by opening your eyes and really noticing. Whether you are in a new place or that same street you are on every day, play the “What’s new” game and look around to see what you can discover. You will be amazed at all that is there to be seen that have never noticed!