Thursday, June 5, 2014

"I dare you!" Parenting challenges for a summer to remember

I recently shared the best advice that shaped my parenting style, and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that came from that post. I especially enjoyed "meeting" (well, virtually) several other parents. Commonly, these parents spoke of their struggles with letting go. In many cases, letting go comes easily to me. I guess because I believe in that quote with all of my heart. The years of childhood go by so quickly, and I want my kids to be well-rounded, brave, and happy adults.

Do you know what else passes too quickly? Summer vacation. Perhaps some of you are already pulling your hair out, willing for school to return. But take a second; reflect on the fun parts of summer. The pool splashes, sunshine after 8pm, later bedtimes, family movies on rainy/stormy afternoons... all of those things seem to pass too quickly before the hectic mornings and homework struggles begin again.

Do you want to take on a summer parenting dare?

I dare you...
  • To let them choose. Dedicate a period of time (2 hours, a half day, maybe a whole day) where the kids make the rules! If the thought of this causes your temperature to rise, then begin with a shorter timeframe - maybe two hours. Tell the kids that all decisions during that time period are theirs. They choose what everyone should wear. They choose what to eat for lunch. They choose what game to play. They choose where to go. You get the idea. If they wear stripes with polka dots and boots, so be it. A lunch of ice cream and french fries won't kill them for one day. Be ready for anything, and I bet you will end up with a lot of laughs.
  • To turn off electronics. Again, for a half day, one full day - whatever you can do. No TV, no ipads, phones, LeapFrogs, etc. That goes for you as well as them. Turn it all off. Spend the time the old fashioned way, with board games and puzzles, making up stories, having a dance party, reading books, or playing outside with the water hose.  Let the kids know that you are abiding by the rule as well: you won't look at your phone, answer a call, browse the Internet, read an e-book, text a friend, or check Facebook during the electronics blackout. People survived this way for many years, and I bet we can too. 
  • To leave your comfort zone. Are you a nervous wreck when your children try something new? Do you fear the hassle of a road trip with them? Do you loathe Play-Doh? Or finger paints? Choose one thing that sends your blood pressure skyrocketing and tackle it. We are flying to a state we have never visited, with a baby and our soon-to-be first grader. And for once, we aren't planning anything beyond the hotel reservations. Our vacations are generally very planned and scheduled so we "don't miss anything". This time, we can do whatever we feel like at the moment. No specific wake-up times, no scheduled bedtimes, no pinpointed restaurants. We will be somewhere we have never seen before and we will eat, play, walk, or drive wherever as each moment strikes.

Consider it another lesson in letting go. I have accepted my own dares, and I will soon put them into action. I think it will create some exciting days and special memories. Happy summer!

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Linked up to Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop: "A blog post inspired by the word: dare."
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