Friday, June 10, 2016

Summer -- A Season of Growth

It is hard to believe that my youngest two are 12 and 14 years old. The time flies by so quickly! I have been thinking about their future and how soon they will be all grown up. Be still, my heart!

My focus this summer is on helping my kids come to age. Their childhood is transitioning into young adulthood, and with that, our summer goals are changing. Gone are the lazy days of summer at Splashville, going to all the playgrounds in a 10 mile radius, eating ice cream and watching movies all day. I did not buy bubbles, chalk and balloons this summer (okay, I did buy balloons but they are for an art project). I am not the cruise director of fun this summer. Don't get me wrong. There will be plenty of fun and adventures, but it isn't my main focus. It isn't where I am putting the majority of my energy. In fact, I am purposely trying to make their summer just a little bit hard and monotonous. Working hard and getting through tedious things builds character.

This summer we are growing and solidifying character traits that will last a lifetime. Being a special needs family in crisis for most of our children's childhood has caused certain things to fall through the cracks. I just haven't been able to do it all and have had to prioritize through the years. Thankfully, we have had relative peace recently and can start tweaking the areas that need improvement.

Goal 1 ~  Complete a task, no matter how small. Can I tell you a secret? My kids are droppers and half-doers. We get out of the car and they leave half their stuff behind. We enter the house and they drop the stuff they did bring in at the door. They get milk out of the fridge and either leave it on the counter or put it back in the fridge without the cap on. They use tools in the yard and bring only half of them back. Don't get me started on all the unimaginable places I find shoes and utensils! So this summer, we are really focusing on the old adage:

1. If you open it, close it.
2. If you turn it on, turn it off.
3. If you unlock it, lock it up.
4. If you break it, admit it.
5. If you can't fix it, call in someone who can.
6. If you borrow it, return it.
7. If you value it, take care of it.
8. If you make a mess, clean it up.
9. If you move it, put it back.
10. If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it.
11. If you don't know how to operate it, leave it alone.
So much of it is about staying present in the task at hand and not letting your mind and body wander off to the next thing before the first is completed. So far, I am seeing a small improvement, and I don't feel too much like a drill sergeant.

Goal 2 ~  To improve work ethic. My son is a distracted worker. He wanders away from work for water, food, to use the bathroom ... the list goes on and on. According to his recent extensive educational testing, he isn't ADHD, so it would appear that this is something that must be trained out of him. My daughter is a complainer and pouter. She doesn't like any jobs that have to deal with dirt (either in the house or outside) or bugs. She just wants to organize, which she is very good at and is fun for her. So this summer we are doing morning chores and evening chores as usual. Then we are adding one hour of concentrated chores or projects that fall in the not-so-fun category. We are doing tons of yard work, cleaning behind furniture, washing baseboards, cleaning the dark corners of the basement laundry room, and putting fresh caulk in bathrooms. Dean is not allowed to wander away from his work unless it is a designated break time. Above all else, they must put forth a positive attitude. Dean is finding that he actually kind of likes some parts of yard work. He especially likes anything involving chopping and sawing. Anne is doing better with gross jobs. Although she still wrinkles up her nose and complains under her breath. Hopefully, we will make even more headway with her attitude in the coming weeks.

Goal 3 ~ Take care of their morning needs. That means taking over making a healthy well-balanced breakfast for themselves and cleaning up afterwards, making their own beds, and for Dean, maintaining his dental retainer. All that kind of stuff. They have most of this down. The only real struggle is making breakfast, because they are both really slow to wake up and function first thing. They think eating a few crackers or drinking four cups of milk (Dean) should count.

Goal 4 ~ To continue with their personal growth activities each day. Anne is reading eight chapter books this summer, doing a one hour exercise program for ballet (daily) and keeping up with learning sign language. Dean is practicing guitar, doing his physical therapy stretches, reading daily, doing some math practice and starting to learn the piano.

We are well into our summer and have been keeping up with our goals so far. Next week starts a few weeks of camp and dance intensives. We will see how well we hang onto our goals. I think we will keep up with number 1 and 3. The other two may need to be adapted. Camp really exhausts Dean. The combination of vigorous activity, hours of social time, and all of his sensory issues tends to make for a very tired boy in the evenings.

Blessings, Dawn


  1. What a great summer plan! :)

    Eli will be tired from football practice much of the summer, and Sam will be working out with the Marine recruits, so he'll be tired, too. I have a couple of "spring cleaning" type tasks I want to get Sam's help on. Work is good for our boys! Keeps them out of trouble. :)

  2. That is a really good summer plan to build character!

  3. I love the idea of focusing on character traits for a summer. I try to teach these things year round but often out of exhaustion I tend to let them slide...

  4. We used to do this each summer with my three older ones when they were younger! All your plans are great ones!

  5. Character traits are a great summer plan. We're working on a few things like that this summer too, but more along the lines of remembering her own daily medical items. And Anne looks so tall in the ballet picture! Has she grown quickly?