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

What Traveling Can Teach You

I just got back from traveling overseas.  I enjoy the chaos of travel – its unexpected trials, my new best friends that I sit next to on the plane, and the airport food that is twice as expensive but just as satisfying.  I like looking at possible souvenirs I won’t buy and rifling through magazines I would never have time to read in my “everyday” life. I even enjoy the waiting for delayed flights.

When our children were younger, we traveled with them.  We loved showing them new places and teaching them to navigate the airports, unique travel challenges and meeting people who spoke different languages, wore unique clothing and had traditions that had little to do with their “everyday” life.  They even enjoyed waiting for delayed flights with us.

We all learned a lot about ourselves and who we were as family during our travels.  Our trips’ Teachable Moments are our souvenirs that we still enjoy remembering and using today in our “everyday” lives.  These souvenirs bring a wisdom that only comes through travel.

SOUVENIR #1 – Plans Always Go Awry

You can plan; you can obsess; you can detail every second, but I guarantee you, something will go awry.  There is no perfect plan and there are no guarantees. The only one who is perfect and knows the plan is God Himself, “I make known the end from the beginning…” (Isaiah 46:10).  

T.M.:  Having the expectation that the journey of life as well as any travel routes will never end up being what we initially expect is a wise truth to remember, especially when the unexpected arises.  Get ready to be surprised, uncomfortable and interrupted and remember – all of these build character.

SOUVENIR #2 – Picking Your Travel Partners

Not everyone is built for travel.  Some do it much better than others.  Some struggle with the confinement that is inevitable when you are negotiating how to get from point A to point B.  Some hate the amount of time it takes to reach one’s destination, no matter the mode of travel. Some feel edgy thinking of all the other things they could be doing until they reach their destination.  And some HATE figuring out out of all the stuff they own what stuff they need to take with them. These types of worried, anxious individuals who usually expect the worst-case scenario and have no hope that they will enjoy life as they travel make the journey more difficult than it needs to be.  Proverbs is correct when it says “anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down” and Proverbs is also correct when it says, “a merry heart makes for a merry countenance”.

T.M.:  Besides packing a toothbrush, pack a good attitude that is hopeful and leans upon God for contentment!

SOUVENIR #3 – Perspective Matters

My husband has said as long as I’ve known him (over 30 years now) that it is not perfection, but the direction of our lives that count.  Focusing too much on having the “perfect” trip or focusing too much on where we are going and not where we are currently at are both perspectives that will kill any decent travel plan.  Focusing too much on any moment of time other than the moment we are currently in is a great waste of time.  I can’t change either the past or future, but I can influence this moment – and since a trip is just a series of moments – it’s wise to make every moment count.  As for considering just “getting there” as the very definition of success, that is a misguided idea that process is inferior to results. It’s just not true – how we get somewhere, what we learn and enjoy as we get there, the relationships we build as we get there – these are all significant in their own right.  

T.M.: Realize the current way being made for you (Isaiah 43:18-19) and celebrate the moment you are in (Romans 14:17).

Dear Reader, if you travel, you have a whole bunch of Teachable Moments that direct your life.  Recognizing what God has taught you and how it informs your life is an invaluable collection of souvenirs. Have you shared with your children what you have learned from life’s journey and specifically, your own travel experiences?  What has God taught you? What Teachable Moments are your souvenirs? Next time you come home from even a day trip, start a conversation with your family that begins with, “On my trip, God taught me….” and let them see how God had been at work within you as you had been away from them.  

May you enjoy picking through your collection of Teachable Moments and giving testimony and thanks to God for each one.

Blessings to you as we travel this life together.  Fondly yours, Elizabeth