Keeping Kids Focused This Summer
By Christie Perkins
I have this thing with electronics. I hate how it sucks brain cells, personality, and turns perfectly innocent adults and children into daytime zombies.
“But we’ve only been on a few minutes,” a child shoots back. And once again I have to go into that spill about the time warp trap. “You realize that it contributes to poor reasoning skills.” Minutes quickly become hours.
Electronics shut down and I can only hear the flutter of eyelashes blinking. Finally someone peeps out, “We’re bored.”
How to Make Your Kids Less Zombie-Like this Summer: A Daily Focus
Sunday: Goal Setting Sunday
Yes, I actually do this. Go ahead; make fun of me. Our method is not very formal. We just simply chat about what they want to accomplish throughout the week. I used to try and enforce my goals on them (Don’t you want to just see what the corner of your closet looks like? How about a week without electronics?). But, I have since learned to let them do their own thinking. It’s much more productive and interesting this way. You learn right away what your kids passions, interests, and priorities are. And sometimes they will surprise you.
This helps eliminate the aimless wandering zombies are known for.
Monday: Fascinating Fact Day
My kids and I love, love, love this day. I just allow a set amount of time to research something that they are interested in. It’s a great springboard for discussion. And I’m all for fueling interests and feeding brains. This is a great opportunity to help my kids learn how to safely use the internet. My personal favorite is the National Geographic website. There’s a kid section for the little guys. In any other search we almost always include the word “kid” so the facts are simple to understand and sites are appropriate. It’s helpful to keep a list of what they are interested in… because sometimes they forget what piqued their interest.
And before you know it mushy zombie brains start taking on shape with a little brain food.
Tuesday: Take Time For Others
This is service day. It is the hardest focus of the week to instill mostly because filling people’s needs don’t always happen on a Tuesday (well, that, and getting my kids to want to do it). However, the principle is worth teaching. Quite often they will default to serving each other. It’s often simple but I’m okay with that. Taking time for others is such a great skill in a self-centered world.
The perspective gained in service eventually helps the zombie moaning to shut down. (Warning: It could actually intensify moans at first but will be minimized with repeated efforts.)
Wednesday: Wellness Wednesday
Plan ahead to find your focus for Wellness day. I like to focus on nutrition and exercise. But technically you could throw in mental, emotional, or spiritual wellness. Just pick an area you and your family needs to work on and master it in a day. Fair warning: birthday parties and random treat drop offs always land on Wednesdays. It’s a great opportunity to teach moderation. But even a simple once a week teaching helps instill habits they will think about the remaining six days of the week. A specific focus is helpful. Here’s a few ideas:
5 fruits and vegetables all day
plan well rounded meals with mom
drink 6 cups of water
whole grain day (breakfast, bread, snacks, etc.)
learn to make yogurt or other healthy snack
exercise: dance-off, plan a hike, run to the water tower, swim laps, play flag football
learn to make a vegetable dish for dinner together
Watch that saggy zombie skin slurp itself up with better food and energy choices.
Thursday: Organization Day
I woke up one morning to my 5 year old who was running around the house waking everyone up, “It’s Thursday, it’s Thursday. It’s Organization Day!” I chuckled. Wow, I don’t think Christmas got this good of a response. Funny what kids love. They get to drop their 2 assigned chores for the day and organize something. My first time doing this we decided to tackle the game closet. Big mistake. It was an all day project. Just do simple things: a drawer, one shelf, a cupboard, bottom of the coat closet, etc. Usually I aim for about 20 minutes. I have 2 rules: 1) Tidy up the area we will be working in before starting the organization project. 2) Finish. Don’t leave anything laying around.
Holy cow! Pretty soon ripped, holey, zombie clothing starts finding their way to the trash, where they belong. Though, the thrill of the day may actually cause ripped sheets in an excited effort to get out of bed.
Friday: Try Day
This is a much needed day to reevaluate our goals. If we have done nothing on them then we focus on them this day. Extra efforts are made toward reaching those goals. That smile and life satisfaction will be a little more genuine if they learn to accomplish the goals that they set for themselves.
Instead of your little zombies stretching their lips in awkward faces they are stretching their skills to new and awesome places.
Saturday: Chatter Day
Ah. One of my favorite days. Quite honestly, it’s more for me than the kids. This is a day that I really fine tune my listening skills. I try harder to hear what they are saying, even if it is uninteresting. I make eye contact when they talk to me. No listening as I type, or cook, or clean. I always tuck myself in bed at night feeling like a better mom on these days. A good strategy is to sit around the table and just talk. Pull out food or treats (I have boys and this is a necessary ingredient to keep them there). It’s fun. I have a jar of questions that we sometimes use. You can find get to know you questions all over the internet. This day we connect.
On this day I see that I’m not so green (with envy) over those stinking zombie machines. I get to time warp them into my own little world.
Keep In Mind
Now I know it is impossible to do these things every day. Schedules can mess with that. But I assure you that it will be worth your time to invest in it as consistently an effort that you can give. There are 3 things that rarely ever escape our week: Fascinating Fact Day, Organization Day, and Chatter Day. You know my kids favorites. Good luck this summer in keeping your kids safe from the zombie machine. And, oh, play around with your own days. Come up with something new.
What kind of schedules do you keep with your kids?
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