By GENEVIEVE SHAW BROWN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Tara Ziegmont’s kids were about 6 and 10 when she realized how time seemed to be quickly slipping away.
“I’ve always worked from home, and I found that they did their thing and I did mine. We had a routine, but it felt separate,” Ziegmont told Good Morning America.
For parents and kids alike, the summers feel especially poignant. And it’s common that what feels like “all the time in the world” in June seems like it went by in a flash come September.
Ziegmont, creator of the blog Feels Like Home, decided to make summers more “intentional.” She told GMA she felt that without a plan, she wasn’t creating memories. “I wanted to do things by choice, not by inertia.”
Her kids, now 9 and 13, feel more confidence in themselves and their abilities, and show an improved performance in school as a result.
She shared with GMA her top tips for creating an “intentional summer”:
You have to choose
“You have to figure out what it is you want to do,” she said, adding that she comes up with ideas as well as the kids. “Do you want to bake or do crafts? Go swim in the creek or the lake?”
Know that some of the best memories are the small things
“One that my kids were blown away by was a picnic — it wasn’t even a decent picnic,” Ziegmont said. “We went to McDonald’s and took it to the state park. They loved it.”
And sometimes the best memories happen in your own backyard: “My kids loved the time they put a sheet on the lawn and ate a pizza.”
Keep your mental health in mind
Ziegmont said being intentional is just as important for her mental health as it is for her kids’.
“I feel good about how we’re spending our days, weeks and months,” she told GMA. “I know that my kids are building skills and being exposed to a wide range of experiences. I can feel really good about my parenting as a result. So even when things go off the rails, and we decide to scrap whatever I’ve planned, I know that at least some of their summer was spent on enriching, life-giving activities and planned boredom, rather than on Youtube or Netflix, which they still see plenty of.
Build in boredom
“Planned boredom can be a really good, really positive thing, even in an intentional summer,” she said. “I sometimes take away my kids’ screens and I let them be bored for a couple of days. They hate it of course and complain, but they eventually get tired of hearing me say ‘boredom is good for your brain’ and they leave me alone and go find something creative to do. They play outside, they build with Legos, they draw and paint. They get messy and use their imaginations which I love to see and hear.”
It’s OK for the kids to dream big, she said, and wish for a trip to Disney. And parents can talk about how and when something like that might be able to happen. “Once you’ve done that, let them know that for the list you’re making for this summer, it has to be an hour or less from home and under $20,” she said.
Know what you can manage
For Ziegmont, she plans approximately three outings per week with her kids. But, she said, that number is different for everyone. She suggested knowing the memories you want to make and going from there.
Don’t always default to the favorite activities
“We have been doing a lot of swimming this year,” Ziegmont continued, “and whereas that used to be something I scheduled intentionally, it’s now our default evening activity. I need to remember to schedule other things, too, so that swimming doesn’t take up our whole summer and we do nothing else. Sometimes, it’s good and productive to spend the evening at home, playing board games or baking brownies, or cooking s’mores over a campfire in the backyard.”
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