Day 3: Get the Kids Involved

Have you ever planned something you thought your kids would love and had it turn out to be a dismal failure? For whatever reason, your kids didn't think it was nearly as much fun as you thought they would?

I remember planning an elaborate birthday party for my older daughter when she turned 6. I love to throw parties with lots of people, so we invited lots of her friends. I spent the evening watching her stand apart from most of her friends. That was when I realized that we had planned a party I would enjoy, not one that she would enjoy. My older daughter is much happier with just a few friends around. I realized I had never asked her how many kids she wanted to have. I had just told her the number, and she felt obligated to fill it. Now, we plan parties with much fewer kids, and my daughter is much happier.

The point of telling that story is that you can plan an entire summer of fun activities, and your kids might hate it. The way to avoid that? Ask your kids what they want to do. Proverbs 15:22 says "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." They are, after all, the experts on what they want to do this summer. You're planning these summer activities for your kids, so let your kids be the advisers in this situation. 

There are a couple of reasons that letting your kids help plan the summer is a good idea. First, it lets you know where their interests lie. Sometimes, we think we know what's going on inside our kids' heads only to find out they're thinking exactly the opposite. Second, kids have great ideas. They may think of something that you would never come up with. Third, it gives them a measure of control and lets them get excited about the stuff you're planning.

So how do we involve the kids? How much control do we give them? It depends on the age of your kids. With preschoolers, simply asking a few simple questions like "What would you like to do this summer?" or giving them a few options like "Would you rather go to the pool, the zoo or the park?"

With older kids, set aside a planning time. Use today's printable Summer Wish List to get the conversation started. You can give each child a copy or write down everyone's thoughts on one copy. The first question "Things we'd like to do if money was no object" is designed to find out what your kids dream about doing. Throwing money out of the equation lets your kids tell you what they'd love to do with their summer. You might not be able to afford it, but it might be something to work toward in the future. You can also use that question to plan smaller scale activities that still address those interests. For example, say your child wants to go to NASA mission control in Houston. You might not be able to afford a trip to Houston, but a local museum might have some space artifacts or you can have a "space day" at home where you do space-themed activities.

The other questions on the Summer Wish List will help you gauge your kids' interest in trips to attractions close to your home, new things they'd like to learn and free stuff they'd like to do. Summer activities don't have to be expensive to meet your child's wishes and interests. For example, I asked my older daughter what she wanted to do this summer, and her response was, "Have lots of cookouts with the neighbors." Inexpensive and fun.

Get your kids excited about summer by letting them get in on the planning of The Best Summer Ever.

Don't miss tomorrow's post where we get started putting things on our calendars. And don't forget to tell your friends about The Best Summer Ever series. You can use the button in the sidebar or click the Facebook or Twitter share buttons at the top of this post. Hop on over to the Everyday Truth Facebook page and share your goals for the summer or leave a comment here telling us about the goals you came up with from yesterday's post.

Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows and Our Simple Country Life.