Phil Simmons, Urban Mission Program Director at the Wellmark YMCA and director of the Fatherhood Program, offers a glimpse into his world as a parent and a few tips he’s gathered along the way.
My wife and I have a mantra that we share when it comes to our kids: “Let us minimize what our kids will need therapy for later.” This mantra is more of a joke to bring levity when we feel like we may be losing our minds. It is a reminder we don’t need to be perfect parents. It is a reminder that no matter what we do, our kids will make their own choices. It is a reminder that we love our imperfect children imperfectly.
There was a time when our house was quiet and serene, although most days I can’t remember it. With four kids (a 7-year-old, 5-year-old and twin 3-year-olds), it seems like chaos is creeping behind every non-structured second. Like the time we thought everyone was playing quietly, only to discover the twins had emptied almost every single bottle of soap, shampoo, body wash and bubble bath into an empty bathtub. Or the time my oldest son decided to cut his own hair. Or the times my daughter decided that she hated us because we asked her to pick up her clothes.
“Let us minimize what our kids need therapy for later.”
This is why we go outside. We left the chores for another day, the rooms uncleaned, the beds unmade and went camping.
In so doing, I learned some cool stuff:
My kids are more imaginative, creative, courageous and capable than I gave them credit for.
My kids ask questions about the world that I don’t have answers for — they help me see the world in a way my adult brain just can’t anymore, and I appreciate the wonder.
Getting wet, muddy and slimy is still really fun.
My kids learned stuff too:
Fire is hot.
Creeks are for exploring.
Hiking trails are fun, but off-the-trail exploring (in safe places) is even better.
Mom and Dad can relax and have fun, too.
Here are some awesome ideas for staying active and learning with your own kids this summer: