The Happiness Formula: Summer freedom … and responsibility

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer / You’ll wish that summer could always be here

Sung by the late great Nat King Cole, these lyrics epitomize the essence of summer for us. It’s a time of letting loose and relaxing; free from the cares of a pinned-down schedule and nasty weather.

The outdoors beckon and we embrace backyard barbecues, beaches, cottages, camping and the requisite marshmallow roasts, corn boils, and ice cream treats like nobody else on this planet.

It’s great to relax, for you and the kids. Whether it’s not wearing shoes or having to go to bed early or hanging out at the community pool for the afternoon or visiting grandma and grandpa in Toronto, a small or big summer experience can be wonderful.

What is important in every instance is the responsibility everyone has in making the experience enjoyable – and this includes the kids, too.   

Everyone is responsible for bringing what they need: Let it be one item if your child is very young, but let it be something that he can carry on his own – his teddy, his towel, his book – you get the picture. Once children are older, they can load a backpack.

Although you may feel tempted to instruct your little one, let them decide. This sense of feeling empowered is a major component of embracing responsibility instead of learning to avoid it. 

Praise the attempts to help out: Helping to put up the tent, collect sticks for the fire, putting on the life-saver by themselves, picking out what they want to wear, even if it’s not exactly what you intended, are all examples where the freedom to do is coupled with responsibility.

If the personal desire to act is stifled, then in time no action will be taken. Passivity overtakes the willingness because the child learns that mommy/daddy will do it (and they don’t have to).

A promise made is a promise kept: Nowhere is it more important, especially in summer when rules are loosened, to keep your word with your kids. With everything in flux, parameters are set by what you say to them. If you promised they could go over to Sarah’s house after you got back with groceries, then that’s what they’re expecting.

Unless there’s an emergency, changing your mind is unfair to them. Though tiny in comparison to bigger family issues, this sudden reversal is irresponsible, no matter how you slice it.

This is the season for family time: If ever there was time to do things as a family, summer is it. The freedom to go play golf, spend the afternoon on the computer, finish the book cover to cover or go shopping all day, is great fun. There’s no question your dose of freedom is crucial to your well-being; however, your sense of responsibility in nurturing your family is crucial to their well-being. Try to balance the two for a healthy family dynamic.  

Many of you claim summer as your favourite season. Make it the best yet! Here’s wishing you a happy “lazy, hazy, crazy” summer creating wonderful memories with your family and loved ones. See you in September …