Teachable Moments

How To Actually ENJOY Your Child This Summer

Summer Trivia for 1000:  In the 2013 Disney movie “Frozen”, Anna and Kristoff asked Olaf to show them where to find Elsa.  What reason did they give for needing to find her? (answer at end of blog post)

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “This article is about summer and yet, she has started off talking about a singing Snowman from a winter movie! That’s confusing on the best day of the week, let alone today when we’re trying to figure out how to hit a home run and slide into summer.”

No worries, friends. I hear your pleas for clarity. If you remember the movie, you’ll remember that our friend, Olaf the snowman, loves summer. In fact, he breaks into a song about summer that lists some typical summer activities that are actually favorites of mine, maybe they are of yours as well (don’t peak if you like trivia quizzes; instead, how many can you list from Olaf’s song, “Summer”?):

  • blow the fuzz off dandelions
  • soak up the sun and get a tan
  • lay around in the sun and have a cold drink
  • enjoy the summer breeze that blows away a winter storm
  • play in the sand

But, are these activities the key to enjoying the summer with your kids?  If we come up with a “to do” list, is that what will make us all happy?

Maybe – I’m a fan of “to do” or “bucket” lists.  Especially if we try and get creative with some new ideas OR we relive the traditions of old that are tried and true.  Either works for me! But, I suggest, the activities are only as good as the people who are involved in them – and if you hate what you’re doing, it doesn’t fit your budget, or requires more time and energy than you really have, even the best laid picnic is better left for the army of ants.

So, how do you actually enjoy your kids this summer?  Think about your kids, think about yourself, and think about what brings your family joy. Your fun has to fit your family, or you risk “family fun failure”.

1. Think about your kids

No two kids are alike and so, no two kids are going to like the same thing.  Activities can’t be measured as a “one size fits all” event.

Take for example, our family trip to Walt Disney World when our kids were in their middle school years.  My daughter and I love to be the first one at the park and the last to leave, and throughout the day, we will see every character and ride every ride.  The men in our family, however, are a whole other story. They can only go so far until they must be done! So, after 2 days of park hopping, the third day became a “down day” and the guys stayed back at the hotel, while my daughter and I hit the park on our own.  Separation meant everyone got what they wanted and everyone had a great time! Keep these rules in mind when thinking about planning your summer events:

  • Know your child’s limits.  And if you have more than one child, consider each child’s limits.  Always be willing to adapt the activity to fit your child(ren); don’t try to force your child(ren) to always fit the activity.  
  • Know your child’s joy.  What makes your child(ren) smile?  Is it a quiet activity, a loud activity, high energy, or low energy; are there lots of other people around or will your family find some time alone?  All these unique characteristics should be considered for each member of the family.

2. Think about yourself

Parents are people too!  If the best activity for your child is a nightmare for you, then it’s a bad choice. A family activity needs to fit the whole family and that includes parents. Consider your resources of time, money, and energy and take into consideration what you can legitimately offer to the event.  You might have heard it said, “If mama (parents) ain’t happy, then nobody’s happy!”  Think about these things to assess your happiness quotient:

  • Know yourself.  Embrace your limits.  Know your personality.  Realistically, you are the adult; you need to adapt to the activity more than your child(ren) do.  The activity should be kid age-appropriate more than adult age-appropriate.  But, that does not mean you always have to “put up and shut up”.  Be a part of the plan!
  • Know your joy.  What makes you smile?  Is it a quiet activity, a loud activity, high energy or low energy; are there lots of other people around or will your family find some time alone?  All these unique characteristics should be considered for each member of the family – this includes you, o parent!

3. What brings your family joy

What is the purpose of fun?  It builds a memory.  It strengthens our family bonds.  It gives us a needed rest from our world of work.  And it brings us all a common joy!

King Solomon said, “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God” (Eccl. 2:24).  Joy is an emotional experience that lets us know we are enjoying the blessings of God; we not only enJOY the activity, but we are grateful to the God who has given it to us and we are grateful for the people we are doing it with.  To have fun – truly enJOY the summer – keep these wise verses and one quote in mind:

  1. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:4)
  2. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. (Phil. 4:4)
  3. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1Thess. 5:18)

Quote by Olaf the Snowman, “Some people are worth melting for.”  Show your love and appreciation for your family this summer by willingly doing something they want to do, even if you don’t.  (Way to be wise, Olaf!)

Dear friends, it’s summer and it’s time to enjoy this amazing season God has created. To do this, consider everyone in your family, kids and adults alike, and then create opportunities for your family to play together.  No matter what you do – visit a museum, play a board game, go swimming and camping, or enjoy a day at the movies – remember to give thanks to God who gave the opportunity to you as well as enjoy and give thanks for the people you are doing it with. May all your summer days be sunny and bright and full of enjoyment for each member of your family.

Sunny Blessings coming to you!  Elizabeth

Answer to Olaf Question: Elsa needs to bring back summer!

Teachable Moments

Everyday Celebrations

If you don’t have to choose, don’t.  Try and say “yes” to whatever you can, as long as it is not illegal, immoral, unethical or ungodly.  For example, one hot summer day many summers ago, my children and myself had just spent a day working in the yard.  We all deserved a treat after all that weed pulling, mulch laying, and flower planting, so off to our local ice cream parlor it was.  When we got there, it seemed like every other family in the area had the same idea so we had plenty of time to contemplate our choices. However, when we stepped up to the register, my daughter just could not make up her mind.  What a pleasure it was to say to her, “get both.” Why choose between Birthday Cake and Cookie Dough ice cream if you don’t have to? In fact, put them both in a bowl and pour on the hot fudge, with whipped cream and sprinkles.  Go big, or go home. This wasn’t an everyday occurrence, but occasionally, when choices did not have to be made, we didn’t. We exercised this privilege on trips to Florida when we stopped at gas stations or when we went to the $5 movie with $1 treats on a Wednesday matinee for children and one adult.  Special times deserve special choices.

These exceptional moments made our everyday lives exceptionally fun.  Sometimes they were planned, but more often than not, it was a moment that had crept up and just couldn’t be ignored or treated casually.  These extraordinary times allowed us as parents to exercise generosity and to let our children know that we not only noticed, but celebrated them.  The moment was not just about what had taken place, but with whom we had been with in the moment.  

I believe when I was aware of the moment, reflected on how best I could show my love and appreciation in the moment, and then acted on an immediate plan of celebration, I loved my children well.  It wasn’t just what had happened situationally, it truly was that I was getting the opportunity to enjoy that moment with them.

Biblically, there are many examples of people exercising extraordinary moments because of how they experienced God with them.  God was powerful and very present and the people responded in praise.

  • Genesis 12:7 – God appeared to Abram as he entered the promised land and spoke with Him.  Abram built an altar of praise, showing worship to God in the moment.
  • Luke 1:39-56 – The spontaneous praise of both Elizabeth and Mary filled Zechariah’s house as together, expectant Moms, they rejoiced, being with one another in the moment, glad and thankful for what God was doing.
  • 2 Chronicles 20:17 – When God announced to Israel at the time when King Jehosophat was on the throne that He would fight the battle and win on their behalf, Jehosophat and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem bowed down and fell to the ground in worship.  They stopped everything and physically, together, acknowledged God’s promise, power and promise through an immediate act of worship.

Beyond these biblical examples, God promises to be with us from the lips of Jesus (Matthew 28:20), “And, surely, I am with you always to the very end of the age.” This is the great joy of the Christian life – that our God is with us.  And it is what makes everyday moments exceptional in our families – taking the time to remember that being with one another can take an ordinary day and make it extraordinary.  What makes movies fun or runs to the ice cream parlors? Being with one another.  

Dear Reader, I hope you look around today and see the people God has put into your life that you are with, especially if you have the privilege of being with family.  Remember to celebrate the moments not just because of a situation, but because of these people with whom you get to share life.  What a privilege to live this life together!

May you enjoy both kinds of ice cream flavors today, and enjoy the blessing by being with those whom you love.  

Fondly yours, Elizabeth