"Summertime, and the living is easy…"
Summertime has officially arrived. And I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it difficult to stick to a schedule and to buckle down and work. Case in point — this newsletter is being sent to you at the end of June, rather than at the beginning of the month. Perhaps childhood memories of long summer days spent at the neighborhood swimming pool have forever altered my cell memory — triggering an age-old urge to slow down the pace and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Rather than swimming upstream and fighting the urge to slow down, I’ve decided to go with the summertime flow. I hope that you and your children decide to do the same and enjoy a magical summer that includes carefree time to explore, dream and play. Soon enough, we’ll once again be asking ourselves, “Where did the summer go?” Before fall arrives and back to school activities take precedence, be sure to enjoy the magical days of summer.
Unexpected, delightful events are part of the fun and wonder of the summer. But if our children’s days are overscheduled, they’re likely to miss these unexpected delights — and so will we, as we frenetically drive from one activity to the next. Even though your intentions may be good, avoid being overzealous about providing structured activities for your children. Be sure not to fill all your children’s time with lessons, summer camp, team sports, or other organized events. Eliminate the summer activities that are not particularly enjoyable or important to your child. This will give you and your child the time and space to enjoy the surprises of the day as they arise. Even the smallest events can be exciting to children, and it’s a wonderful gift to be able to see the world through their eyes. If you unexpectedly see a beautiful butterfly, follow it with your child. If you make a wrong turn while driving, see where it takes you. If your son or daughter wants to have a last-minute lemonade stand, go for it. Enjoy the effortless flow of summertime.
Of course if you have children and work outside the home — there’s no denying that your life is incredibly busy. Still, you may find that by cutting back on some of your family’s extracurricular activities, you can create a more relaxed atmosphere. For example, one planned event a weekend may be great, but three or four may leave everyone in the family feeling rushed and frantic.
Each and everyday this summer, leave some time for your children to do whatever they want — even if it appears that they are choosing to do nothing at all. Don’t think of it as wasted time. Children are naturally creative and you will be providing them with the necessary time and space to use this natural ability to be resourceful, self-sufficient and independent.
At first, when you step back from your full time role as the summertime entertainment director, your children may not know what to do with themselves. This will change as children gradually become more accustomed to relying on their own devices to creatively entertain themselves. Many families find that they do best when they strike a balance between free time and planned activities. For example, you may wish to keep a calendar of scheduled activities such as trips to visit relatives, outings to the zoo, library, museum, or the family vacation. But don’t be tempted to over schedule, and make time at the end of each day to relax, talk or read.
Take a few quiet moments to reminisce on the simple summertime activities that brought you pleasure when you were a child. Perhaps they can become family traditions that you share with your own children and one day, with your children’s children.
Here are some of the timeless summertime activities that children of all ages enjoy:
Water fun: swimming, running through the sprinkler, jumping over a stream of water from a hose — raising it higher each time.
Summer time collections: Start or expand a nature collection of rocks, shells, pinecones or leaves. There are many benefits from being out in nature and collecting promotes organization and mathematical thinking.
Food Fun: Make popsicles, home-made ice cream, s’mores, or fruit kabobs.
Miscellaneous Summer Fun: Go on a picnic, look up at the stars, pitch the tent and let your kids camp out in the back yard, encourage kids to rehearse and put on a show for you, build a fort or a tree house.
A Note About Summertime and Bedtime:
Even if you allow your child to stay up a bit later in the summer, remember that sleep deprivation can have serious consequences anytime of the year. As much as possible, maintain a consistent bedtime routine. You’ll find that a well-rested child is much more adaptable, willing and able to flow with the spontaneity of summertime.
The program in The Floppy Sleep Game Book is a nightly ritual that
your children will learn in order to independently relax and fall asleep.
Naturally, a child will modify and personalize this bedtime ritual to
adapt it to his or her own changing needs and growing maturity. But
one thing will not change—children who know how to quiet themselves
and turn inward will be able to relax and fall asleep—even when
they are far from home, such as on a family vacation or at summer camp.
The Dream Maker's June Dream Starters
Dream Starters are visualizations which promote relaxation, imagination and well-being as they guide children into the world of dreams.
To prepare for these dream starters, (or visualizations), create a quiet comfortable atmosphere in which your child can relax.
Step One ~ Progressive Relaxation (Tensing & Relaxing Muscle Groups)
Have your child lie down in his bed. Have him lift each arm and leg individually, holding each limb tightly before loosely flopping it down on his bed. Then have him wrinkle his face and hold his eyes tightly closed, before relaxing his face. (Tense each muscle group for at least 5 seconds.)
Step Two ~ Focus on the breath
Have your child get very quiet and watch his own breath.
Step Three ~ Creative Visualization
Now that your child is relaxed, read (or tell) the following visualization. Of course, feel free to modify it according to your child’s age and interests.
The Magic Hammock Ride
Tonight, when you arrive in Dream Land, there is a sign on the Dream Academy door that says, “Closed for summer vacation. Leave your worries with Willow, and enjoy your summer.”
Walk over to the strong and wise Willow tree and leave any problems you may have on his strong, sturdy branches. When you finish, a hammock magically appears, hanging from one of Willow’s strong branches. Willow is inviting you to lie down, close your eyes and rest. Enjoy the warm summer breeze that softly rocks the hammock back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
The warm summer air is filled with magical dream dust — tiny flecks of glittery, sparkling light. It surrounds you and makes you feel warm and tingly. Willow gently releases the ropes that tie the hammock to his branch. The magical dream dust lifts the hammock up and you begin floating through the summer skies of Dream Land. The stars are sparkling down upon you as you flow in the stream of silvery, sparkling light.
Imagine where you want to go and the sparkling river of dream dust
will take you there. Perhaps you’ll travel to the stars, or gently
float around the Earth. It’s completely up to you. You can relax
on your hammock and go anywhere at all.