Family LIfe

What Did You Do on Your Summer Vacation?
by Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman

As summer comes to an end and kids start heading back to school, the discussion among friends often turns to, "What did you do this summer?" Teachers sometimes design a writing assignment around the same topic.

Some children spend the summer camping on weekends or heading to the beach whenever possible. Others lounge around the backyard pool with neighborhood friends. Some venture forth on a family vacation to new and exciting destinations.

Still others stay close to home and participate in Little League games. Some read books, use the swing in the backyard, or have friends sleep over. Others get stitches to heal a wound, ride a horse, or fall off.

Whatever experiences you share with your family this summer, take the time to sit together and reflect on the experience by discussing it. Have you engaged in a family conversation about high and low moments that occurred as the summer winds down? This is called debriefing. Debriefing the events of summer, no matter how small or significant they may have been, is just as important as doing them. Creating experiences and reflecting on them adds meaning and builds a lasting, significant memory.

Debrief with your children as summer draws to a close. Add to their memory bank of significant events by using the ideas below.

  1. Talk about what you liked. Stay away from the negative. When someone brings up what they didn't like, quickly change the discussion to what was enjoyed. We can always find something we don't like about a trip. The goal is to focus on what you would like to do again. Remember doing more of what you like and less of what you don't like will result in a happier family.

  2. Relive the events of the summer through photos. Get out the pictures and video footage that was taken during the summer. Looking at pictures brings back certain aspects that were not committed to memory. Put the pictures in order from the beginning of the summer to the end. Create a picture book or photo album together. Let the kids add captions below some of the pictures as a way to talk about their summer.

  3. Give each person a chance to talk. Even the youngest in the family has a perspective on the summer that is unique and valuable. As one person shares their experience, a thought or memory can be sparked in someone else. Allow the discussion to flow freely between family members.

  4. Have an attitude of gratitude. Be thankful for what you were able to do even if what you did was go slow, sleep in and "do nothing". You don't always have the time to go slow and sleep in or to take a trip to an interesting place, so be thankful and celebrate whatever opportunity you shared this past summer.

  5. Talk about what you would say when asked about your summer. You know your children will be asked about the summer and they might have a writing assignment about it as well. So talk about how they can talk about it. Help them get their thoughts in order to be able to share, in discussion or in writing, what they really want to communicate to others.

Memories come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. They can take the form from a week long family vacation or an evening backyard barbeque. They can include a water fight, chasing lightening bugs, or going for a bike ride. What you do, debriefing it when the summer comes to an end, may be the most important part.

About the Author:
Thomas Haller and Chick MoormanThomas Haller and Chick Moorman are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for parents. To sign up for it or obtain more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their website today: www.personalpowerpress.com.

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