With July 4th coming up next week many families are going on vacation or to holiday social events. Summer may be a special time where families have less commitments (school is out, many sport leagues are over), but how can families make a plan to connect by living in the moment during summer family events?
Here are a few tips to engage with your family and live in the moment, but PLEASE share yours!
1. Outdoor fun: Plan all types of outdoor fun events from simple family game of catch, family hikes, day trips to vacations. Use that time to put away technology and enjoy time together – maybe even keeping track of events in a “family” style Olympics.
2. Schedule Technology Time and Unplug Time: Either create a schedule or have daily discussions on when is screen time and when is family time. Before going to social events, discuss the family rules for using technology at the event. To help with unplugging, maybe bring a technology basket or bag that can hold devices during “unplug” time. In my book “My Parent Plan” I talk about rewarding kids for good behavior instead of punishing for bad. When it comes to unplugging, we try to reward our kids with positive words when they unplug. But they also know that they “earn” screen time by being present and unplugged during family or “outdoor” time. We also have our kids earn screen time by using educational apps before entertainment apps. Summer is a great time to plan for regular educational activities to prevent summer slide.
3. Plan For Facetime: During all the fun events going on during the summer, remind yourself and your family the importance of social time, which means actually looking someone in the face when they are talking. Facetime should not only be a term for video chatting! I have seen many other parents write about their techniques, including Maria Bailey who just recently shared during Disney Social Media Moms on the Road “I remind myself to make sure I can see the whites in their eyes when my kids are talking to me”. This is also an important skill to teach kids who live in a digital world where most of the communication exists on devices.
4. Summer Toys: Schedule time to talk with your family on what summer toys are needed. Local sports stores carry 5 in 1 sports sets with volleyball, badminton, frisbee and more. I just picked one up on sale for only $24. Slip and slides may not last past the summer, but those are also available on sale and can offer fun family moments to slide and laugh. Check the family bikes and scooters to see if any repairs need to be made. Then try to walk, bike or scooter to events during the summer as a way to catch extra time together. Board and card games are great to take on family outings and vacations. If any of your kids say “paper” board games are really “bored” games (like my tech obsessed 14 year old), show them it can be fun by having them pick out some games at the store. They may be surprised that Words With Friends is not only a game that can be played on devices, Hasbro and Zynga made a classic board game as well.
Family friendly game apps offer families a summer activity that can be taken on the road, but screen time should be limited overall. Yet in a pinch while waiting for a flight at the airport, a game of monopoly on a tablet is a great way to enjoy time together. Taking family videos and photos can be a fun family event if the end result is working on a summer family album(s). Digital pictures and videos can be loaded to a cloud site that offers the ability to turn the pictures into an online or paper photo album at the end of the summer.
5. Live In The Moment: Try your best to live in the moment. To do this, I try to push all my lists, todo’s, concerns out my head and just focus on my family. I tell myself that all of that can just wait, but enjoying time with my family can’t. I have to admit, living in the moment is one of my biggest challenges. So I just decided to take it “one moment” at a time.