Ready to raise the temp in your relationship with some hot summer date nights? These 10 dates to heat up your marriage during this summer of love can really turn up the thermostat in your relationship. (And you won’t even want to cool off.)
1. Be a Kid Again
When I think of the summers of my childhood, I remember endless games of tag and hide and seek. Now we have adult responsibilities that prevent us from being footloose and fancy-free. How can you bring some of that joy back? Be a kid again. Activities can include mini-golf, bowling, roller skating, visiting an amusement park, or an arcade.
2. Group Date Nights
Remember when you used to hang out with your friends? It may have been at the mall, a park, or the local eatery. There was nothing better than spending time with your friends, talking, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. Get a group of your favorite married couples together. Go on a walking tour of your town, go ax throwing, or even participate in an escape room together.
3. Retro Date night
You know the saying, “What’s old is new again.” Think about the clothes, music, or hairstyles from the past. Find a thrift shop that has clothes from the 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s. Select an outfit for each of you. Host your own Retro Date Night with friends, or you all can dress up and have a date like they would have had in the past. For example, 50s Date: Go to a drive-in movie and then hit a hamburger spot or ice cream shop where you can share a milkshake together.
4. Future Date Dight
Think about what your life might look like in 30 years. Would you be retired? Would you own that boat or lake house you’ve dreamed about? Would you have grandchildren? Would you have an RV? Try renting an RV and go camping near your home. Or go ahead and rent a lake house for the weekend.
5. Enjoy Your Town
You may have lived in your town for years but have never experienced it like a tourist. It may be fun to go on a walking tour. Enjoy the sights and sounds of a local farmer’s market.
Summer of Love is a FREE experience for couples. Just sign up and get an email each week from FTF. In that email, you’ll find 6 days of LOVE for you and your spouse to enjoy through games, conversation starters, Virtual and DIY Date nights, challenges, and activities. All of this combined will help you learn skills, create new habits and make your marriage HOT, HOT, HOT!!!
7. Music of Your Life
Do you and your honey have a song? This summer may be a great time to take in an outdoor concert. One of my favorite local concerts is when our local symphony plays on the 4th of July. Classical may not be your favorite. However, see if your town has any music festivals or local artists playing your favorite genres. “Sometimes music is the only medicine the heart and soul need.”
8. Expand Your Mind
Maybe the thought of heat or crowds of people doesn’t seem like fun to you. Instead, you may enjoy quieter moments together where you stimulate your brain, which is the largest sex organ in the body. Seek out art or history museums. If your town has public art, find it. Go see a play performed by a theater group. Find and watch a lecture by your favorite poet or writer.
9. On the Road Again
Take a short drive, a weekend trip to the beach, or even a planned 2-week road trip that allows you to see and experience something other than the ordinary. While together, be conscious of talking to each other, not spending so much time on your phone or device. If you feel like you run out of things to talk about, here are a few conversation starters.
10. Let’s Get Physical
Being physical with your spouse creates a deeper level of intimacy and greater bonding to each other. Participate in a virtual race and train together. Or, take any outdoor exercise class like walking, yoga, kayaking, etc. (If you run out of ideas, you can always do a bedroom date!)
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/BlogPic-10SummerDates-01.png9182048Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2021-05-27 11:17:452021-06-09 11:11:3610 Dates to Heat Up Your Marriage This Summer
With everything couples have been having to focus on lately, it’s no surprise that enhancing communication in marriage might be a bit lacking. I mean, who has time to sit down and have meaningful conversation about anything besides work, school decisions, masks and hand sanitizer?
That being said, what if we get creative for you and give you some fun date nights that set the mood for some lighthearted fun along with the chance to enhance communication in your marriage? Good idea? Great, glad you like it! Let’s get this party started.
Date Night #1 – Party Under the Stars
Grab some snacks, a candle or two (gotta set the mood for romance right?!), a quilt, change into some comfy clothes (depending on where you live, clothing could be optional ;-)), one smartphone with a stargazing app (Skyview and Star Gazer have great reviews), make sure the kids are tucked into bed, and head on outside for a date under the stars. This is especially fun if you are in the midst of a meteor shower.
While you are searching the night sky for the different constellations, play a variation of the game Never Have I Ever… One person starts by saying, “Never have I ever…” and then finishes the sentence with something they have never done. If neither of you have ever done it, give each other a smooch. Then it is the other person’s turn to say it and complete the sentence. If the other person has done it, no kissy face for you! Unless of course you decide to cheat a bit.
After you’ve played a few rounds, spend some time sharing the answers to these questions:
What I love most about us is…
One of my favorite memories about us as a couple is…
Something I would like for us to do more of as a couple is…
The goal here is not to create a major production, but just something simple that will give you some time to yourselves. Believe it or not, even 30 minutes (we hope you will take longer… just sayin’…) to just be together, playful with each other and talk about lighthearted things will help you feel more connected to one another. Part of what makes a date night great is the anticipation of knowing it’s coming, so grab your calendar and make it a date! Oh, and don’t forget, this is your time to reconnect—so no talking about the kids, bills, work, the in-laws or anything else that could create space between the two of you.
Date Night #2 – Shut the door and turn the lights down low… Spa Night
Talk about a great way to de-stress and create conversation. This date starts earlier in the day as you send text messages to each other creating anticipation about the experience. It’s all about pampering each other. Oh yeah!
Grab some towels, scented candles (lavender, lemon, or jasmine scents all promote calm), massage oils, bath salts or bubble bath, cucumber slices, and face masks (No, not that kind, silly—the kind you rub on your face and peel off later :-). Create or select a romantic playlist (check out this Warm Fuzzy Playlist on Spotify). Oh, and don’t forget some yummy snacks you can feed to each other. Lock the door and let the fun begin.
To get things started, turn the lights down low, hit play and light the candles.
Next, draw a warm bath and include a bath bomb or bubble bath (hopefully there’s room for two for a nice long soak). If a bath isn’t an option, there’s nothing wrong with a nice steamy shower or just a simple soak for your sore feet. It’s all about washing away the stress and tension of the day and focusing on your love.
Now that you’re a bit more relaxed, it’s time for a couple’s massage. What? You aren’t a professional masseuse? No problem. Actually, massaging each other builds intimacy, creates opportunity for bonding and opens the door for conversation. Don’t underestimate the power of your touch. Oil up the areas you want to massage and teach each other what you like. Try massaging different parts of the body—feet, hands, neck, shoulders, back, etc.
As you continue on your journey to relaxation, you may find putting cucumber slices over your eyes after slathering on a face mask refreshing. If you’re not into the whole face mask thing, maybe just cuddling is your next move, or… well, I’m sure you guys will figure it out.
If you are looking for a few conversation starters to enhance communication in your marriage…
What’s one thing you love about our sex life?
If I could have more of one thing from you it would be…
One thing I would love for us to do more of together is…
Date Night #3 – Dinner and a trip around the world—virtually…
a staycation of sorts. This date starts with the two of you dreaming about the places you would like to go, but can’t right now. Once you have made your list of places, narrow it down to your top three. Based on your top three choices, decide on a food theme, where you will eat your meal (at the table, on the patio, in bed or somewhere else). What kind of environment do you want based on the places you will visit? Music? Candles? What’s the appropriate attire for your date? Do you want to cook the meal or will you order it from somewhere? Cooking together can add to the fun… or not. That’s for you to decide.
Now that you have all of that decided, once dinner is ready and you are eating, you can either take a trip around the world visiting the places you would like to go some day OR you can take a trip down memory lane and go through pictures from previous trips to the places you love and want to visit again.
Here are some conversation starters for the trip you decide to take:
What makes our marriage adventurous?
One of the things I look forward to most about taking this trip with you is… OR My favorite memory of us on a trip was when…
One day, I would love for the two of us to…
★ Now, you may be wondering how in the world any of these dates will enhance communication in your marriage. Glad you asked.
For communication to flow easily between spouses, people need to feel cared for, connected, a bond, safe, valued, and a sense of closeness.
When you are intentional about dating, especially dates where you take the time to open up to each other, check in, where you can be playful with each other, and dream together about the future, you are laying the foundation to enhance communication in your marriage.
Wait, what? You’ve had so much fun with these three dates, you want more?! Well okay.
How about this? FTF has created a special couple toolkit—5 Days to Better Communication in Your Marriage. Don’t worry. It’s not intense— just filled with practical strategies for helping you get to where you want to be as a couple when it comes to communication. Go ahead, check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/toa-heftiba-yZDYBogsWEc-unsplash-scaled-e1597409068338.jpg199450Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2020-08-14 08:45:282021-03-16 12:38:443 Great Dates To Enhance Communication In Your Marriage
With school around the corner, we have to face the reality that summer is coming to an end. However, there’s still time for some last hurrahs before your downtime looks like Googling how to teach math… Bond with your sweet family by doing some or all of these 7 free things together before summer ends! No need to let these last few days slip by without squeezing in some free fun for the family!
1. Be Explorers For The Day!
Soak in some sunshine and quality time with your family. Not sure where to start? AllTrails has 100,000+ trails listed all over with reviews and photos so you can find one perfect for your family. If you have some paper and a broken crayon laying around, bring it along to make an etch. Have your kiddo(s) pick out a tree or rock they think would have the wildest texture, then put the piece of paper on it and rub the crayon on top (preferably unwrapped and horizontally).
While you’re out adventuring in the great outdoors, answer these questions:
What is your favorite part about exploring?
What do you see that is interesting or fascinating to you?
If you were going to bury treasure out here, where would you bury it?
This 30 Day Family Activity Challenge is packed full of fun for the whole family! If you love a good belly laugh, some friendly competition, or just some good ol’ quality time with the ones you love most, this is perfect for you. Of course, you may not finish it before the summer ends, but you can continue the challenge into the school year. You can download it for free and have some fun sitting in your back pocket. With a little help from the challenge, you keep your relationship with your family a priority as life picks back up. Be flexible with your schedule; you can do a challenge week or every other weekend.
After you all do a few activities together, ask:
What activity has been your favorite so far and why?
What’s your favorite part of family time?
Have you learned anything new about yourself, like discovering you’re good at something you hadn’t tried before or perhaps that you don’t like something?
3. Picnic Together!
Simple, but always a favorite. Throw together a family meal and pick your favorite spot. Maybe for you it looks like driving to a local park, a lookout, or sitting in the yard. If it feels nice out, instead of dinner and a show, make it lunch and a game and bring along a family favorite board game to play when you’re done eating.
What are three words you’d use to describe yourself?
How do you know we love you?
What’s your favorite thing to do as a family?
4. Be Expressionist Artists.
Now, I’m not talking oil canvas painting with classical music playing in the background—I’m talking expressionist like using a piece of paper and some sort of drawing/painting utensil to express yourself. Think of it like a picture journal.
You can use whatever is on hand—crayons, watercolors or even pens! You will be painting your thoughts about what these last few months have been like. If we’re honest, COVID-19 has changed the way daily life has been lived for the last few months. Putting those feelings into words can be hard for kids. Nonetheless, reflecting on what has happened is healthy and a great way to make sure you all are on the same page!
Sit down at the table or lay the art supplies out on the floor and paint/draw what the last few months has felt like. Here are some prompts: Draw/paint…
How have you been spending your days?
What feelings and emotions have you experienced?
The hardest part of quarantine?
The best part of quarantine?
If your kids are a little older (8+) suggest drawing a comic strip to show their experience.
Once you all have finished, ask these questions:
Tell me what’s going on in your picture?
Why’d you choose to draw that?
How are you feeling now?
5. Water Day!
Get ready to make a splash and go to the nearest body of water before summer ends. Whether it’s a creek, lake, ocean, river, pond, pool or hose in the yard, take advantage of it being hot outside and jump in!
You can do so many things with water!
Build a dam with rocks at the creek.
Play tag with the ocean by running as close to the waves as you can and then running back to shore without getting your ankles wet.
Feed ducks or fish with some stale bread or cereal.
Splash contest! (Big or small.)
Critter Count Contest. (See how many different critters you all can find!)
6. Movie Night!
Lights, Camera, Action! Take it up a notch and make a movie ticket for your kids and give it to them in the morning so they have something to look forward to all day. You can make it a “dine-in” movie and eat dinner while watching the movie. When it comes time for the movie, show your kids their seats, whether it be the couch, epic fort you encouraged them to make that day to watch the movie in or a pallet of pillows. Make it feel special. Presentation is everything. If you’re excited, they will be too!
Questions to ask after:
What was the best part of the movie? Why?
Would you have done anything differently than (insert main character’s name here)?
What character do you think I am most like?
7. Silly Day Out.
Run errands or go to the park dressed up in costumes or goofy clothes. Take pictures and share laughs wherever you go. Teach your kids not to care what others think about them and to enjoy making the most out of the mundane things like grocery shopping. Not only is it a great lesson, but it will definitely be entertaining.
Questions to ask:
What was the most fun part?
Do you think other people were having as much fun as we are?
It’s good to be reminded that making some of the best memories cost nothing but time. Taking the time to enjoy being a family and having fun together is so important for the relationship you all have together. The more fun you have, the more you’ll love to be together.
✦ If you do any of these ideas, we would love to see! Tag us on Facebook and/or Instagram and have fun!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/nathan-dumlao-4_mJ1TbMK8A-unsplash-1-scaled-e1596654688294.jpg223450First Things Firsthttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngFirst Things First2020-08-05 15:11:392021-01-08 14:33:367 FREE Things Every Family Should Do Before Summer Ends
When I was a teen, summer meant one thing: work. And lots of it. I had 2-3 jobs lined up before school was out each summer. That’s because my goal was to make as much money as possible. Part of my motivation was to put gas in my car, pay for any eating out, and try to save for college expenses. The other motivation was that my parents believed working would help me learn to be more responsible. They also thought it would give me other necessary skills for a successful life.
With COVID-19 essentially slamming the door on the majority of summer jobs for teens, we face some challenges. The escape out of the isolation that many teens hoped for, the earning potential, and the learning opportunities that parents know come from working have been swiped right out of their hands.
In fact, according to a Pew Research Center survey, young people ages 16-24 are more likely to face layoffs due to Coronavirus. Why? Because they make up 24% of employment in the restaurant, retail, and transportation industries. The lack of work leaves behind the opportunity to learn about working with others, being responsible, and accountable to someone other than parents. It may keep them from experiencing a sense of accomplishment from a hard day’s work.
Now what? With Plan A out the window, this is a great opportunity to help your teen put Plan B into motion. In spite of all that COVID-19 has taken from us, there are still plenty of things teens can do this summer. These things can make the time go by faster, but also help them continue to learn the skills they need to master before heading out on their own.
Here are four ways you can help teach your teen responsibility this summer in spite of COVID-19:
1. Set clear expectations for the summer.
Even though many options have been taken off the table, ask your teen to come up with a plan for their summer. The structure still matters and makes a huge difference in a teen’s mindset and motivation. Here are some important parts they may want to include in their plan:
Some type of work
Help with household chores
Time with friends in a socially distant way
Things they need to learn to do for themselves (laundry, cooking, managing money, maintaining a vehicle, etc.
2. Help them think through opportunities that do exist.
Think yard work, shopping for those who cannot get out, being a nanny or manny for parents who have lost childcare and summer camp opportunities, odd jobs, or construction. Don’t forget about those special projects you or others have been putting off or need help doing. Part of the goal here is to help them think outside the box about what’s possible during a difficult time.
3. Encourage them to look at their strengths and identify what they are passionate about.
Are there online experiences they could take advantage of to further enhance their skill set and make them more marketable in the future? Can they take a distance-learning course to help them finish school faster or lessen their class load down the road?
4. Ask them to take on more household responsibilities to give you some relief while providing practical experience.
It may feel like more of a headache in the beginning, but these are all things they need to be able to do once they are out on their own. Grocery shopping, meal planning, cooking and/or house cleaning or making household repairs could be ways they can step up and assist in a big way if they aren’t already. As a bonus, additional teen responsibilities at home is a helpful reminder that in times of crisis, everybody has something valuable to contribute to the good of the family unit.
Obviously, we are all dealing with the unknown here and looking for ways to navigate the constantly changing landscape. Undoubtedly, there is a tremendous financial and emotional strain on teens and adults because of the limitations we’re dealing with and certainly, we need to be sensitive to this. Even in the midst of chaos, circumstances often present themselves that turn out to be positive in the end. I’m hopeful that these tips can help you prepare your teen to handle any situation that comes their way and to help them learn responsibility even in the midst of a pandemic.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2-women-sitting-on-rock-during-daytime-214576-1-scaled-e1596466892331.jpg168400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2020-06-02 08:46:202020-08-24 10:00:384 Ways to Teach Your Teen Responsibility
Parents, if there’s ever a time to sympathize with your children, now is it. If there’s one thing kids look forward to, it’s summertime. Think about it: summer camps, trips, vacations, jobs, and enrichment opportunities.
Every couple of days, my teenage daughter comes to me with a realization of something she won’t get to do this summer because of COVID-19. She’s already missed one summer camp, the family reunion is not going to happen, and a summer program she was hoping to take part in is off the table. Oh, and she wanted to start her babysitting business this summer.
She’s bummed about it. Kids all over are bummed about it. About 20 million children, adolescents, and adults in the U.S. attend camps each year. Not this year. When your children are coming to the realization that COVID-19 is about to “ruin” their summer, that’s where you as a parent must step in and help your kids process what they may be feeling. Here are some ways you can help your disappointed kids.
Deal with yourself first.
This is a blow to parents as well. A) We may hate that they might be home all day. B) We hate what they are missing out on, too. You may experience your own anger, frustration, sadness, or some other emotion. Identify and own it. Then do what you must to address it and move forward.
Provide space for your child to express their emotions.
Your child may be experiencing disappointment, sadness, grief, anger, or any other emotions. You may see it on their face, in their actions, or in their responses. Asking them if they are disappointed because of summer cancellations with a soft, caring tone, or simply telling them it’s okay to be sad, gives them permission to experience their emotions.
Empathize with and validate their feelings.
Regarding the cancellation of summer plans, child development and parenting expert, Dr. Deborah Gilboa says in TODAY that parents should tend to their child’s feelings but not put boundaries on their feelings. You don’t have to fix their emotions. Sometimes an “I understand” or “It’s okay that you feel that way” is all that’s in order. Your own stories of dealing with disappointments can provide your children with some comfort and help your kids process what’s going on.
Discuss what they are really missing.
It’s not just that they’re missing the activity of the summer. Kids look forward to reconnecting with family and friends they only see in the summer. The summer is a chance to explore their own personal interests. For teens, it might be the freedom that comes with having a job and, more specifically, having money. Students use the summer to do things to boost their resumé. Asking them, “What do you miss about not being able to do a particular activity?” can help your child think through what they enjoy about the summer and what it is they are really missing.
Look for alternatives.
Dr. Gilboa says that there are four elements to having a fun summer: independence, connection, purpose, and fun. What are some alternative ways to help your children experience those four elements that they often get from summer camps, jobs, and trips? S’mores, water fun, camping in the backyard, movie marathons, unstructured play, Zoom game nights with friends, gardening, building something, learning something new? Be realistic, but also be open to new challenges. It can make your summer memorable. This 30 Day Challenge can provide you some great alternatives.
Keep Loving ‘Em Through.
This isn’t all one conversation for one setting. Having one conversation doesn’t mean the emotions are gone and won’t come back. And it doesn’t mean that your efforts to make it a meaningful summer are futile if they still experience sadness or grief at other times throughout the summer. Ongoing conversations can help your kids process ongoing emotions.
Your kids may be experiencing loss and uncertainty. They may be worried about how this affects their chances at college admissions and scholarships or feel like they are losing their childhood. Your consistent presence and willingness to both sit with and help them adjust to a different kind of summer can provide a positive memory of how to deal with disappointment that will serve them well for years to come.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/family-making-breakfast-in-the-kitchen-4259138-scaled-e1596467040399.jpg272450Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2020-05-29 07:49:462020-08-03 11:04:41How to Help Your Kids Process What They’re Not Going to Get to Do This Summer
Now that summer’s finally here, you may have a bit of a challenge on your hands if you’re trying to make plans for the family. You might even be wondering what in the world you can do if you’ve waited until the last minute. I mean, what are your options? What fits into everyone’s schedule? Well, don’t worry! Here are some helpful hints for creating a summer to remember forever for your kids!
Hold a family meeting. Straight out of the gates, hold a family meeting to brainstorm what’s possible within the framework you’ve established. Have a little fun with this. No idea’s too crazy when you’re brainstorming. And who knows? A crazy idea might lead to something that’s totally doable.
Come up with a schedule. You may be tempted to let summer be a free-for-all with no schedule. However, while having no structure may sound like a blessing to you and your kids, it can be a real curse. Making a schedule helps keep everybody grounded and in the know about what’s coming next.
Be intentional about creating opportunities for connection. Hanging out in the same house or even the same room isn’t the same as actually doing something to connect with your children. If that sounds like just one more thing to put on your already overwhelming to-do list, one easy option is to do a quick search for different fun and easy activities for you and your kids to do together. And don’t forget the public library — they may have some pre-planned activities for you!
Get active. Since everybody has probably had their fill of screen time, try going old school! Do some of these things for fun: puzzles, Nerf gun battles, water gun fight, riding bikes, let your kids create a scavenger hunt for the entire family to do, investigate how to make your own Slip ‘N Slide, play board games, Spoons, Charades, make a house of cards, go fishing, learn how to play chess or checkers, camp in the backyard and make s’mores, build a fort or treehouse, play marbles or jacks.
Encourage learning. During your family brainstorm meeting, ask your kids what they’d like to learn over the summer. They may want to learn how to cook, change the oil in a car, repair a bike, make a piñata, or find out more about your family history. They may want to take a virtual vacation to an exotic location and learn about the culture, geography, and things that are unique to it. Take it a step further and plan your meals, clothing, or other activities around that location for the week. Study photography. Read a book together. You may even want to invest in some grade-level activity books just to keep your kids sharp.
Plant a garden outside or play around with growing food indoors. There are plenty of free tutorials available if you’re new to gardening. Another option is to ask an experienced neighbor for a hand. You can also experiment with different things such as rooting the bottom of a celery stalk and then planting it. You could also cut a pepper in half, then scrape and plant the seeds to see if they will sprout. (Spoiler alert, they should!)
Not all of these activities would require hands-on supervision at all times. In fact, some of them could be child-led or done independently. That would not only give you a break, but it would help to build self-confidence and independence in your child.
One thing’s for sure, one way or the other, this summer will be one for the books. It will either go down in history as the most boring summer on record or the summer you decided to take your summer fun to the next level. It may not be the easiest summer you’ve ever had, but it could become one of your best summers yet.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Summer-to-Remember-kayla-farmer-tvO-yFL9mhM-unsplash-1-e1596467219712.jpg289450Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2020-05-27 11:31:462021-05-24 10:02:106 Ways to Create a Summer to Remember
This summer is going to look a little different than most because of COVID-19. Although some camps and travel may be canceled, the quality time your family looks forward to in the summer doesn’t have to be. Fun and exciting experiences create lasting memories that help you draw closer to your loved ones.
Let’s make the most of this summertime! Here are 5 ways summertime can help your family bond:
If you were planning a trip that got canceled, explore the areas around you!
Find a way to recreate the vacation you were planning as a staycation. This will not only teach your kids how to turn a situation around, but you’ll get the creative juices flowing. If you were going to the beach, go to a lake. If you were going to go skiing, try sledding down a hill with a cardboard box.
Take a look at our Parenting Toolkit for the Best Summer Ever with your Family!
Enjoy fun and intentional quality time. Each day has an activity with a moral to the story and an opportunity to talk through the value taught. Not only will you bond over playing together, but while talking about the things that matter most to having a happy, healthy family! Here’s where you can find the Parenting Toolkit.
Routines, rituals, and structure can help your family bond!
They create an environment that is predictable and provides security. If your kids can depend on and are looking forward to the activities that happen daily and weekly, this will keep you close all summer.
For example, maybe Friday nights become pizza night. If you’re not working from home, your kids might expect a text or call from you at noon to check-in. If you’re working from home, maybe you all plan to eat lunch together. Maybe you can come up with a fun summertime morning tradition.
Give your kids unstructured playtime. (Sometimes go outside and play with them!)
According to the Gottman Institute, “Play is how kids learn all the things and develop all the stuff. This means leaving time each day for straight-up unstructured, kid-controlled, exploration of the world kind of play.” When you set aside time for your kids to take the lead, you’re actively encouraging their curiosity and imagination, demonstrating that you trust them, and helping them build character.
Other studies show that children who spend time playing outside become more adventurous and open to new experiences. These children develop skills that help them make more friends. Children use their imaginations to recreate their own world and because of this, they’re able to hold their own attention longer.
Try new things together!
You have an opportunity to step into your kid’s passions, interests, and skills. Do they want to learn to play guitar? Let them put on a performance for you! Does the night sky interest them? Plan a constellation picnic and (tele)scope out some stars together with your favorite snacks. Do they want to work at drawing? Have an in-house art exhibition with fun snacks. Show an interest in what your kids are interested in. This is an awesome way to connect with your kids by having something to ask questions about and cultivate conversations.
Even though a lot of things have been canceled and summer looks different than you may have hoped for, you can be intentional and creative with your time. Enjoy making new memories together and maybe even start some new summer traditions. Have a great summer!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/mana5280-TvxahkK8DpQ-unsplash-scaled-e1596467379194.jpg244450Sarah Hamhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngSarah Ham2020-05-26 16:12:242020-08-03 11:09:515 Ways Summertime Can Help Your Family Bond
Routines and consistency are vital to the growth of our children. Research tells us this and experience confirms it. But you know what? A global pandemic tends to be a routine-buster! Nothing rocks our daily flow more than the sudden closing of schools and businesses. So what did we do? Families had to make adjustments to meet a new temporary normal. Bedtimes shifted. Morning routines looked radically different. Navigating a “normal” day became a balance of school, work, video conferencing, and the ever-continuing struggle of screen time. But how can we get back on track after quarantine?
For us, our kids’ bedtime shifted later in hopes that they might sleep a little later in the morning (that was a fail). The morning rush and commute was gone. Screen times increased for our kids, partially due to school, but mostly to help us get work done. Spring baseball was just a memory. Our biggest adjustments really were figuring out how to both work remotely and help our second grader with school.
But here we are, eight weeks in and businesses and restaurants are reopening, childcare centers that may have been closed or limited to essential personnel are taking steps to welcome all of their kids back. Not only that, but the school year has ended, and for many of us, summer camps are now nonexistent. Virtual learning at least provided some sort of structure for our kids. My son knew he had assignments to do daily and when his video calls were… and he reminded us often.
Now it’s time to shift routines again and get back on track. In just a few short weeks, my wife returns to work at a childcare center. My 4-year-old will also return to her childcare center sometime in the month of June. My son needs some structure for the summer as I still work remotely. So, what do we change? How do we return to some sense of the routines that we had before?
Questions to Ask to Help You Get Back on Track After Quarantine
As we discussed this as a family, we asked ourselves some questions.
What do we begin to shift now to prepare our kids to return to a new schedule? Bedtimes, for instance, need to adjust. Take gradual steps to resume a pre-quarantine bedtime. The same could be said for morning routines. We can make small steps to reclaim some of our routines in this area starting with what time we all get up. Abrupt changes are difficult for everyone—but especially for kids.
What have we started doing during this quarantine that we want to keep? Our kids have had tremendously more free, creative play. We have spent more evenings around the fire pit. More time has been spent in the hammock. How do we protect these things that have brought so much joy?
What do we want to learn over the summer? As I look for ways to fill my son’s days, I’ll start by asking him what he wants to learn more about. What can we explore as a family that will continue their learning? Just because summer is over doesn’t mean learning has to end, but it can be fun learning experiences.
Prepare for Transition to Get Back on Track
As your family begins to discuss this next transition, here are 3 recommendations I have:
Get your mindset right. Mentally prepare for transitions in your routines. Get ready for the battles that you may have to fight.
Get your plan together. Have a family meeting to discuss this time of transition. (Check out this blog for some great ideas.) What does your specific situation require? This is a great opportunity to reinforce with kids why routines are important and why we have to also be flexible and make changes sometimes.
Get tough skin. (If you don’t already have it.) Let’s face it—kids don’t like change. Many of us adults don’t either. You may have had weeks with much less structure, but now we have to make more changes. Not everyone will be happy, but that’s okay.
★ Nothing says that we have to return to the same routine as we had before the quarantine. Take this opportunity to evaluate what you as a family really want to do and what you value. You don’t have to make life as busy as it was before. ★
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/happy-family-sitting-on-a-couch-and-watching-tv-4260639-scaled-e1596467708140.jpg263450Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2020-05-18 08:46:132020-09-02 11:50:073 Ways to Get Your Kids Back on Track After Quarantine Life