The old song says, “It’s summertime and the living is easy.” So what are you going to do with the easy time? We all know another saying: “The idle mind is the devil’s playground.” I think the summer is a prime time for planning some constructive activities for young people to keep them busy and learning. Otherwise, trouble will find them and find something destructive for them to do.
As we contemplate our grandchildren’s visit for a few weeks this summer, we are working feverishly to adjust our schedules and find something for the children to do. We thought the planning and juggling phase of our lives was over. It looked so easy for my parents when they took our sons to stay during the summer. That was a time when there was plenty for the young to do and, and my parents just included them into their daily routine. One son loved to get up early with my father and go to the café for breakfast where he went every morning and meet up with his buddies there. The other sons loved my mother standing at the stove cooking pancakes for as long as they would eat them. They loved going to the thrift shops with her, shopping to replenish her store. They also loved to explore around the house for treasures they would find upstairs, downstairs, in the garage, the garage apartment, or the basement. They would go to church with them on the weekend, where they would stay half the day and then eat lunch in the church hall.
Today, parents and grandparents who work must take off or find activities for children. Depending on the ages, there are things for them to do, but you have to do research. Parents and grandparents should write out an inventory of community resources available and match them up with what young people are interested in. On your community resource list there should be: check with your City Hall, check with the school district, and check with the local church to see what they have going on. There’s always Vacation Bible School. Also, local organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA. The YWCA may have summer programs and camps offering constructive adventures. There is summer fun like swimming lessons, and if they are older, maybe a job or volunteer opportunity to learn a new skill.
We actually sent one of our grand daughters to barber college one summer when she was 15. She’s in college now, but, the lessons she learned that summer are always available as an alternate or second career choice, if she wants it. Our thirteen year old grandson is artistic. He draws and plays saxophone in his school band. We have checked out the summer program at The Art Center for him when he comes. He also plays chess so, hopefully, we can find some way to keep that skill alive. There are usually Summer Guides put out by the city. It is worth getting a copy.
Trips are an option for young and old alike. Weekend adventures to places you enjoy are exciting. A day at the beach or a hike in the mountains may take care of a day or two, or if you can find the time on your calendar, traveling can be fun.
My mother taught us, always find a job to do, and if older children can’t find a job, “make them a job.” Don’t ignore chores around the house or the neighborhood like gardening, cooking, selling something, or washing the car. Teach the creativity of entrepreneurship. You can’t miss the opportunity to make summer a positive experience. A positive investment in your child, nets a positive return. I am intentionally using the phrase return on investment, for obvious reasons.
There is no vacation from parenting, but there is a reward for every moment of your child’s life filled with positive activity. In the future when you see your child graduate and walk down the aisle of a college or vocational school, that’s your reward and your return on the investment you put in him/her. When you get that call from the child to tell you that they got that dream job they worked so hard for, that is your return on your investment in that child. This investment is well worth it!