Slow Down this Summer!

Summer is here...will you slow down or go go go? 

Summer is here and many of us parents have signed up our kids for all sorts of camps that will entertain and enrich them (as well as wear them out for us!) during the hot summer months. Rest assured that with a new infant at home I have done the same! My child is at camp every day and all day and I am grateful that he is returned to me completely wiped out by day’s end! I would like to use this opportunity, however, to remind us all that while we want to fill their days with non-stop fun so that they do come home fulfilled and exhausted, we must also build in some time for them to just be and to truly rest. The concept of just being is often overlooked, as many of us tend to feel that we must continually engage, entertain and stimulate our kids. But just as we often need time to just be, so do they. Time to go within is vital for parents and children alike to rejuvenate, recharge, and vamp up our emotional wellbeing.

According to Gloria DeGaetano, author, educator and founder of the Parent Coaching Institute, the ability to go within is the foundation for a healthy self-identity. “The interior life”, she says, “is to our minds what an enclosed porch is to our house. It’s a place separate from, yet a part of the structure in which we live. It’s a place to meet ourselves and have a good chat…It’s a timeout where we can regroup and understand ourselves better….a place where we achieve clarity and purpose” (2004, p. 96). Our kids need both the modeling and the opportunity to go with-in during their hurried and full lives and it is up to us as their parents to provide them with such opportunities. A rich inner life affects us in many ways including self-regulation, self-discovery, creativity and inspiration and we must practice it!

Tips to encourage going within:

- Build in quiet/down time into your days that does not involve media, even if this is only 15 minutes of lying down and relaxing after school or camp each day. Turn off background noise (television, etc.) so that kids have the opportunity to have their own thoughts. This is great practice for us too and we may think about joining them!

- Build in time for creativity and inspiration – create something out of nothing – be it music, a story, a game or art – always affirming their creative ability as you see it!

- Create a special place in your home for quiet time and thinking – not just when your child is in punishment or time-out but rather regularly. If your child is often given the chance to think and calm himself then even those time-outs will get shorter and fewer because he will have practiced self-regulation.

We all need to spend more time going within, being with our thoughts and our selves and each other than we currently do, finding our own voice rather than constantly consuming others’. And most of us could do a better job at building this into our schedules and our lives so that it begins to occur more regularly. How will you build down time into your life this summer to allow you and your kids more time to just be and to go within?

Galit Birk, PhD is a PCI Certified Parent Coach® and Owner of CORE Parent Coaching based in Dallas, Texas. She writes regularly for the CORE blog and guest blogs for Dallas Child Magazine’s various blog sites.