This is my August installment of my One Simple Thing tip for having a happier and more connected family. Each month this year, I’ve been sharing something I’ve learned from my years at camp that families can try at home to create some of the fun, happiness, and connection that we create at summer camp every year.
Taking Time to Reflect
This is a great month to take some time to reflect on how things are going. One of the things that has come up in a lot of my conversations with campers this summer, especially with the older kids, is that one of the things they love about camp is the chance to have a break from the really busy schedule and the stresses that come along with school, sports, and all the other things they have going on. It’s struck me that our kids are feeling the same way many adults are — that life is too fast-paced, we’re expected to be available and working all the time, and we don’t have enough space to rest and reflect.
Kids are feeling the same thing that we are, which is that our pace and lifestyle are overwhelming and exhausting. There’s just too much going on, and we really need to build in more breaks, more time for rest and relaxation. That’s one of the things that the kids say they get at camp – time to rest and think. They have time to step back from their day to day life and reflect on what are they really enjoying most in life, what’s going well for them, and what they want to change.
Last week on pick up day, a camper expressed to me and his parents that he decided while at camp to stop playing baseball (which was taking up a lot of his time) and spend more time sailing. I love that camp gives kids that opportunity to reflect and decide how to spend their time.
We can all create that same kind of reflection time in our families. You don’t have to go to camp, on a vacation, or anywhere special to do it. It’s simple. All you need to do is unplug for a few hours, if not a whole day or weekend. It may be helpful to go on a hike or go to the beach or do something that gets you outdoors or in a setting where you’re inspired to think and reflect. I advise that you do this first as an individual, before having your family try it.
September and the start of school feels like a new year and a fresh start. For me, it’s equally (if not more important) than the start of the calendar year. We can use this time as a reset.
In these final weeks of summer, why not take some time to reflect?
More Of, Less Of, Same Of
One way we do this stepping back and reflection at camp is an activity that works for individuals and family, too, called “More of, Less of, Same of.” I’ve done this activity twice this summer with our leadership staff. We get a big flip chart and make three columns: More Of, Less Of, and Same Of.
And we start brainstorming. We talk about what’s going well (“same of”), what we want to do more of, and what we want to do less of.
I have periodically done this same brainstorming just for myself. It’s a great way to organize your thoughts about how things are going.
Here are some ideas for your “More of, Less of, Same of” topics:
• End of Summer
To end your summer on a positive note, you can brainstorm:
What do we want to do more of in these last couple weeks of summer? What are some things that would be really fun to do?
What do we want to keep as the summer ends?
What do we want to do less of? What hasn’t been enjoyable?
• New School Year
To start the new school year off on the right foot, brainstorm how to make this a great year:
What do we want to do more of this school year?
What went well last school year that we want to continue?
What do we want to do less of this year?
If your kids are really young, this might be an activity that you do on your own or with your partner. If your kids are a little bit older, it’s a great activity to do with your kids.
I hope this tip is helpful for you! I’d love to hear from you if you end up doing a “More of, Less of, Same of” list, and if you find it helpful.