Recently, we took our high school graduate to Hawaii for his senior trip and my speaking assignment at Brigham Young University. When I asked my son what his favorite experience was out of an entire week of amazing activities, his reply was, “When you and dad were getting tumbled all over the place in the waves.”
While all I remember from that day is pounding waves, gritty sand and my medusa hair, apparently it was thrilling that we had shared in his kind of fun (called recreational torture). Being with your children this summer — not just sitting on the sidelines — is vital. I don’t have a beach body and won’t get one anytime soon. This can make me less than zealous to swim, boat or Sea-Doo (add to that climbing, camping, hiking or activities that involve getting off a deck chair).
But I have learned that my children really don’t care what I look like or how winded I get, as long as I bring great snacks. So forget feeling like a bloated walrus — we all do — and hop in the water, on the zip line or in the flag football game. The expression on your face (or the cardiac arrest) will put coins in their childhood memory bank account.
Set aside time for mom
With baseball, dance camps and family vacations, gone are the “crazy, lazy, hazy days of summer” — often replaced with just plain crazy. Which means, mama needs a resting time. To find it, look for built-in time chunks where you can wind down or do something creative. Our daughter’s dance team for Stadium of Fire is practicing a few times a week for 2 1/2 hours. With the far distance and length of time, these practices are a built-in block of time for me to write. She gets to develop her talents while I get to hear and watch her dance and type this column. My older children, who need summer jobs, get to baby-sit and earn their movie money. As an added bonus, after taking time to be creative, I return to my children happier to be with them (bring on the Super Soakers).
Keep the spiritual factor
Often, summer brings a varying or non-existent schedule, which can make the usual scripture and prayer routines a challenge. Be creative! In your car, boat or RV, keep a pocket-size Book of Mormon, conference CDs or scripture mastery cards. Read a page or listen to a talk while you’re driving to or from an activity. Try applying scriptures to your particular vacation or situation.
A few years ago while vacationing in upstate New York, we experienced one of those marvelous lightning storms. Cuddling the kids on our big bed in the loft of a cabin, I turned to 3 Nephi 8, where the storm attesting the Savior’s death in Jerusalem was raging in America. As I read the words describing the storm, thunder cracked, wind blew and rain beat all around us. Then, beautifully, we could hear the storm passing overhead. Finally, when it was peacefully quiet, I skipped to the section where there was silence in the land and the people heard a voice. It was a powerful scripture moment I won’t forget.
Summer is the perfect time to really live, to enjoy your children generally at their most fun, to carve out time for rejuvenation and to keep the spiritual roots nourished. Even if it requires tumbling in large waves.
Connie Sokol is a mother of six, a national and local presenter, former TV and radio host and author of "Life is Too Short for One Hair Color." She blogs at www.8basics.com.