Exams are completed, graduations are coming to an end, and your children are now piling home for the summer. For nine months the home was yours, now your offspring and co. are invading your premises. It is a transition that comes every year, some parents dread it and are like the father in the Staples back-to-school commercial from years ago: ‘It is the most wonderful time of the year!’ Also, your children, who are used to having their planners filled from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., now have eight hours at their disposal and they aren’t 100 per cent sure of how to invest that time. School is out, now what do we do? All of us: children, students and parents need ideas.
We all have the dreams of what we want to do this summer, weekends at the lake, time spent out in the sun, quality time together, and many other interactive activities. However, what usually happens is, hours in front of the TV, video games, and maybe a little physical activity, with the road of least resistance being frequently taken.
There was a study recently released by Statistics Canada that found that childhood obesity and being overweight is linked to low self-esteem. Interestingly these children were also more likely to not be physically active and to do poorly in school. This study also dispelled parental income as being a source of self-esteem. I love the fact that you can’t buy high self-esteem.
Now, I am not saying that all of our children are going to be obese because they play video games during summer. What I am saying is that, that path of least resistance, of playing video games and watching TV can lead to low self-esteem and school performance. So, here are some ideas of how to optimize you and your family’s summer, and build self-esteem along the way.
First, let us be discriminators of the television. According to tvturnoff.org, we spend, on average, 1023 hours watching television in a year. Watch TV and play video games for two hours every day. That’s it. Maybe then we will only watch the shows we really want, and play our favourite video games and spend less time in front of the TV. We can live our dreams instead of watching people live theirs.
Second, become active. Go outside and play. Join a sports team. Get friends together and play ball, of any kind. Go bike riding. Just do something active outside. Make it a weekly event. If not, make sure you exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
Third, read a book. You now have ample time, maybe read that book that you wanted to read all year but weren’t able to during the school year. Maybe read the Twilight series and see what the hype is all about. Most of all, keep those brain cells growing.
Fourth, parents this is for you to arrange. Make sure that you have a night a week to spend with your family. Any night. Do something you have never done before. Go to a museum. Go bowling or mini golfing. Maybe make a cake together. Go swimming. Play that board game that you got for Christmas and haven’t played since Boxing Day. Do something weekly with your children.
Most of all, enjoy the summer weather, together. Yes, some will have to work, but it can still be done. Let us get out and be active, turn off that TV, read a book, and play a sport, and maybe, just maybe, you will have discovered something new this summer.
Josh Lockhart works for the College of the Rockies in Kimberley BC. He is also a columnist with the Battleford’s News Optimist and a Co-Author with Notes On Parenting. Josh is currently a counselling graduate student atGonzaga University.