Last night I went to a mom’s night out. You know, the night where you go to connect with other moms, get a break from the kids and where, inevitably, all conversation turns to talking about your kids. Last night’s topics: what our kids are doing for the summer. Camps, jobs, summer reading programs, trips to the beach and spending time with grandparents topped the list. One mom, however, said something that stuck with me. She said that she was going to “use the summer to nudge her kids out of their comfort zones.” She went on to say that she felt like her kids had fallen into “family roles” and that she hoped to get them all out respective ruts. Interesting. This got me thinking. Most families fall into this trap where kids get labeled ... Suzy is the athletic one... Bobby is the artistic one. She has a point. Sometimes, kids get comfortable with these "labels" so they don't necessarily try new pursuits. Huh.
So, what better time than summer to coerce your kids to try something new? And since the July fourth weekend is a long weekend, it's a great time to start! Here are a few activity ideas to add to your Independence Day fun and gently nudge your kids out of their comfort zones:
For your “I don’t do sports" kid: create a backyard obstacle course. There is something about handing your kids a bunch of materials and a stop watch to create the course, that kids just can't resist. Better yet, let your kids choose the materials to create the course. Maybe they are creative enough to give it a patriotic theme! Be sure to make it all about personal best. Activities like this help kids realize that they don't have to play on a team to enjoy physical activity.
For your child who likes video games more than you would like: introduce them to good, old-fashioned card games. They may just be surprised that this low-tech way of having fun is as habit-forming as video games. I highly recommend the spoons card game for your child who doesn’t like to lose. This is a great family game that teaches kids how to laugh at themselves! I have such fond memories of playing spoons at the picnic table at summer cookouts.
For your “I can’t even draw a stick figure” kid: introduce them to splatter painting a.k.a. firework art and have them create placemats or t-shirts for your Fourth of July festivities. If you're someone who is a bit, umm, controlling when it comes to kids and messes, this July Fourth activity might require you to move out of your comfort zone. But trust me, it will totally be worth it! OK, so they make a mess, but that’s half the fun. If you don’t use the word craft, your child might actually enjoy this creative endeavor and discover they have an artistic side after all.
For your “it’s all about me” child: encourage them to think about someone else this patriotic holiday. The Operation Care Package program has a neat suggestions of ways kids can help out our troops. Maybe their website will motivate your kids to start a sock drive for the troops this weekend.
For your reluctant writer: have them create a Fourth of July scavenger or treasure hunt! Most kids love trying to come up with clues for other kids, so they won't even realize that they are writing.
Do you have any ideas of ways to draw kids out of their comfort zones? We'd love to have you add to this activity list. Whatever you end up doing this weekend, we hope you have a fun and safe Fourth with your family.