In this hemisphere it’s summer holiday except for those who are in summer school, camp, day care–those vigorous usurpers of time. While we nostalgically think of those lazy days of splendid summers past, a house full of children or teenagers is not typically a parent’s idea of a relaxed and refreshing summer. But, why not?
As our RDI™ families head into the summer season, they use the freed-up time of summer as an opportunity to introduce an amazing structure onto this less encumbered slate. They maximize their time together and have fun in the process.
Over the next few posts, I will share some categories within which we can build our time together: Chores, Volunteer opportunities, Lessons, Jobs and Day Trips.
I intentionally put chores first because it is the most unlikely category of summer fun. Because chores do need to get done, I suggest a structure for making them, if not hilariously fun, at least rewarding and enjoyable.
First, some guidelines: be prepared to 1) slow down, 2) focus on being together in the moment, 3) provide opportunities to make decisions and finally 4) keep your work authentic.
I like to think of chores in three categories:
- Routine, daily and boring
- Too big to face
While the first category is most boring it also blends the above guidelines nicely when they are done in synch with another person. Dishes, sweeping, laundry and cooking might top the list of daily routines. With minimal creativity, it is possible to see each of these through a different lens—the lens of complementary roles with shared, authentic responsibility; for example, washing and wiping the dishes, sweeping and holding the dustpan, sorting and throwing clothes. Cooking expands most easily and can incorporate things like planning, buying, harvesting, stirring, seasoning, sharing. Taking time to do these tasks together, even though they will take longer, actually makes them more enjoyable and creates space for conversation.
The second category of “too big to face” refers to jobs that have been put off for years: cleaning the garage, doing something with old toys, organizing closets, sorting through old photos, throwing away socks that have no mate. These can actually be quite rewarding and as it turns out, fun, too. Going through tasks that have built up over years, brings memories, often forgotten, into the present. And again, this creates space for conversation.
The final bullet point “incomprehensible” refers to tasks that represent something no one in the family may know how to do. These can be exciting because they allow an opportunity for learning together. For example, changing the wheels on a bicycle, sewing a shirt or mending socks, preparing soil for a garden, reupholstering a chair, replacing struts/shocks on a care. And, did I mention—creates space for conversation.
Let your mind wander. This summer plan to slow down your routine and with your great kid, allow everything to take a little longer. Use the opportunity routine tasks provide to converse, remember the past and build new memories of how lovely it is to be together.