It’s summer – yay! Of course we need to explore with our kids. Read to them. Play with them. Have s’mores with them. And do all the things that make life magical in the warmer months.
But then let’s also teach some self-reliance so we aren’t relying on screens all afternoon and the kids aren’t relying on mom and dad to help occupy their time when the fun for the day is over and everyone’s exhausted.
We often go on morning hikes and therefore, the afternoons can feel a bit sluggish. It would be easy to turn on a movie or two and just let them veg. And while this sometimes does happen, my husband and I do our best to cultivate an atmosphere in which our children can occupy their time creatively and independently more days than not. (And sometimes a nap is in order first!)
Below I discuss how we SHOW, TELL and ENCOURAGE our kids to find their inner creativity and independence during those sluggish afternoons.
Since we homeschool, our summer mornings are still relatively structured and spent learning together unless we have outside activities planned. But the afternoons are almost always reserved for independent time.
Here are three ways we’ve tried to inspire our children to make the most of their afternoons:
Show them by modeling around the same time each day: Read. Write. Journal. Garden. Paint. Research. Go on walks, bike rides, listen to podcasts…etc. There are a million things we can do with our time.
Life is ultimately made up of the things we decide to do in each small moment.
What are your small moments made up of? What is your heart leading you to do? Do these things in front of your kids and you’ll show them how this brings life to yourself, your home and the world.
Tell your kids you believe in them. Tell them they are creative, artistic, athletic and intelligent.
Tell your kids affirmations EVERY DAY. And they’ll start believing it. They’ll then become habitual thoughts, then habits and then a way of life.
When they come to you looking for you to occupy their time, tell them they are wonderful and amazing and imaginative enough and therefore, will find something that fills their soul.
How do we encourage our kids to be creative, artistic, athletic and intelligent? By allowing them ways to explore resources independently.
We may be a minimalist family and therefore, don’t have a zillion toys laying around but that doesn’t mean our kids don’t have plenty of resources within arms reach.
Here are a few ideas we’ve used to encourage independent creativity in the afternoons:
1 • ART SPACE
The only way your kids can be artistically creative without much of your assistance is by having access to art materials and a designated space where they can get messy without having to ask mom.
If you’re looking for inspiration, the Art Pantry is a great place to start.
2 • AUDIOBOOKS
Whole worlds open up when kids are exposed to good books (read independently or read aloud). We rely heavily on Audible and don’t see this ever stopping. If your child is able to read but dislikes actually doing it, try the Read-Aloud Revival Reading Challenge. Our reluctant reader turned into a voracious one after this challenge.
Put simply, allow your child to choose his or her own book to read for a minimum of 5, then 10, then 15, then 20 minutes each day for 31 days. It’s all downhill from there, baby.
3 • HEALTHY SNACK STATIONS
Offer trays or containers in the fridge and pantry with healthy snack options for them to pick out whenever hunger strikes. Simple veggies and protein snacks (like nuts and seeds) curb sugar-highs and meltdowns. Keep your fruit bowl filled to the brim. Steer clear of junk food!
Naturally, it wouldn’t be summer if we didn’t keep some 100% fruit/veggie popsicles in the freezer for those hot days. And stick to water bottles throughout the day (instead of juice or other sugary drinks) and everyone will be happy, healthy instead of cranky.
4 • OUTDOOR OPPORTUNITIES
Make everything accessible and approachable. Bikes, scooters, helmets, a hose, sprinkler, creative-instigation areas like a loose parts area with piles of dirt, some sticks, stones, shells, shovels…etc.). If you have a garden, show them how to tend to it alone.
Don’t complicate things. They don’t need play sets and trampolines and big plastic water guns – show them the beauty nature alone has to offer. Our yard isn’t large nor does it have all the fancy stuff but they somehow find ways to spend hours playing in it.
I could go on but your time is best spent putting some of these into practice and enjoying some sweet time living it up.
Hope you enjoy an amazing summer!