When was the last time you went on a date? Not with your spouse, but with your kid. (Well, maybe with your spouse too!) If it's been awhile, summertime is the perfect time to have a little one-on-one with each of your kids. For us as homeschooling parents, this is a distinction I need to make. It is all to easy for me to count reading, writing and 'rithmetic as my quality time with the kids. After all, I am helping them build a strong foundation in their education. I invest many hours every day making sure they not only finish their assignments but help them work through their trouble areas, read with them, and discover new ideas with them.
And yet, I have a hunch that what my kids are going to remember is not my time with them over Greek roots or the quadratic formula. These are tasks to accomplish. We cannot accomplish relationships. We cultivate them. Even if you do not homeschool your kids, I have said it before: We cannot substitute doing things for our kids with time with our kids. We often get the two mixed up.
So here's a challenge for you and for me: let's set aside some time to spend with each of our kids, just for fun. If your kids are old enough, let them pick what they'd like to do. You may be surprised!
If your kids don't have anything in mind, consider sharing one of your interests with them. If you like to sew, start them out with a little project. If you like to scrapbook, give them a few photos and paper to play around with. My husband likes to go out to his shop in the garage with our older son. Matthew designs his own projects (which seem to almost always end up being an axe, sword or shield of some kind). They have a blast and Matthew learns to enjoy something his dad loves to do.
Or consider working on a summer-long project together, thinks like:
- building a treehouse
- putting a 1000 piece puzzle together
- discovering the best homemade ice cream recipe
- visiting every park within a five mile radius
- reading aloud together, or
- planting and working on a vegetable garden
Or here's one last idea: work together (or not) to plan a themed date for your child. It could be:
- a tea party
- a comedy night (read from a joke book or have a joke telling contest), then watch a funny movie
- a board game Olympics---keep score who wins the most!
- a stargazing night---it's always fun to stay out late!
- a night on the town---exploring your neighborhood or your vacation locale
Whatever you do, take some time to spend with your kids. Talk, make memories, laugh and enjoy one another. These days don't last forever. When school starts and the routine settles in, it's so easy to get back to business as usual. So, let's do it! The summer's just starting.
Other links to look into if you need insight or ideas:
Mother-son article from PBS.org
Help Your Teenage Son Become a Good Man from Crosswalk.com--if you're not sure what to talk about
Father-daughter ideas from Focus on the Family
Father-son ideas were harder to find, and the sites that I looked at weren't ones that I would recommend looking at. But generally, things for dads to do with their boys include the general boy ideas, like going to sporting events, fixing the car, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities. But don't forget things like gardening, learning an instrument, or passing on the fine art of grilling to your sons as well.