Most of us in the Flathead Valley start dreaming about warm weather and sun as soon as the mountain closes for the season. This is especially true when spring is just winter with wind. Our family is so busy with sports, school and schedules during the year, that we all really look forward to freedom from commitments and some free time to savor things.
Summer is the perfect time to devote to building the foundation of your family. The days are longer and everyone is a little more relaxed, you might have vacation time and a couple of summer holidays to enjoy one another more. Here is a list of 5 things you can do this summer to build a stronger family which has the great benefit of making secure, happy, successful kids.
Make a Tradition
Family traditions are what we build our memories on. These are the things that kids remember and they don’t even have to be elaborate. This summer have a marshmallow roast every Saturday night or a family baseball game on Sunday afternoons. Our kids know that Tuesday night is always ice cream night. They know that we have a unique, silly birthday song. They can count on the fact that we always go to church at 8:00 and have biscuits and gravy afterward. Traditions are the things that make little kids feel secure but I think they are even more important for teens. They offer a sense of belonging to the family unit and being valuable and that, in turn, makes kids less likely to do drugs or fall to peer pressure. Traditions tell kids what your family values and become part of their identity. Building family traditions is one of the most important things you can do to build a strong family and successful children.
Have a Staycation
One summer we lived in the bay area and gas prices were $5 a gallon. There was no way we could afford to take a big family trip that summer but we still wanted to have a vacation. We had a staycation in the city and it is still one of the most memorable summers we have ever had. There is so much to do around Glacier, but a lot of times we don’t do the tourist stuff because we live here. Have you been horseback riding at the Bar W or on a raft trip down the North Fork? How about staying at the Lodge one night and enjoying the pool for the afternoon and evening. You can take daytrips to some of the sites around the state. We have the Lewis and Clark caverns, the Smokejumper museum, the Capital, the Museum of the Rockies and two national parks. Take a week off and spend a vacation around here, enjoying the things that people come from all over the world to see and do.
After the long, dark winter everyone needs some Vitamin D. Get yourself and your family outside. Take up hiking together and get in shape. Glacier is full of great hikes from the easy Logan Pass Trail and the Trail of Cedars that even little ones can do to the strenuous Huckleberry Lookout or Grinnell Glacier hikes that can be a great challenge to do with your teens. How about learning survival skills together and then making a camping trip out of it? Fishing, camping, swimming, rafting or geocaching, it doesn’t matter what you do, just get out there with the kids and be active.
“The single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” stressed Becoming a Nation of Readers, a 1985 report by the Commission on Reading. Reading aloud to your kids, not only helps them build the knowledge they need to become lifelong readers, but also becomes a family tradition. I was given a love of reading by my 5th grade teacher who read aloud to us every day and opened the door to another world. All kids love to be read to and summer is a great time to do it. Longer evenings make bedtimes more relaxing and mornings with no schedules are perfect for sharing a book. If you have older kids, take the Lord of the Rings outside and read by the lake. Everyone loves to hear a good story. Also use summer to foster a love of books in your kids. Go to the library every week and build reading time into each day. Kids who are good readers do better on standardized tests like the SAT and are better students in all subjects.
Unplug your kids and yourself from media this summer. It is really hard to do any thinking at all when you are constantly bombarded with other people’s ideas and input. We are interrupted all day long with people needing to tell us something. They don’t want to have a conversation either they just want to say something in 140 characters or less. All of that input is taking up valuable brain space and time. Researcher and doctor Arnold Ludwig, studied 1006 eminent luminaries of the past and found that the “capacity for solitude and aloneness was one of nine major predictors of creative achievement.” Imagine what you could do if you had a little solitude.
Take this summer and do these things that will benefit you and your family. By September you will have made some great memories, gotten in shape, read a lot of good books and had time to do some deep thinking without interruption and isn’t that what summer is all about?