Maintaining family sanity as summer winds down
It's the middle of August, countdown to the first day of school. The kids have finished up their summer sports. They've been to camp. The family has taken its vacation.
Now everyone is bored. They're tired of the heat and the mosquitoes and the bees. Whining has replaced regular conversation.
What's a family to do? Consider these creative solutions:
Start the transition: More daylight in summer means staying up and sleeping in. It's fun while it lasts, but getting up for school will be a chore unless the kids start now to ease into the school year schedule.
If the kids currently go to bed at 10 p.m. and awake at 9 a.m., try sending them to bed at 9:45 p.m. and making sure they're awake by 8:45 a.m. for the next three or four days. Then move bedtime to 9:30 p.m. and wake time to 8:30 a.m. for the following three or four days. Continue these incremental changes until the target times are reached.
Planning for a mild transition will save all family members from the stress of an abrupt lifestyle change.
Volunteer: Call a nursing home to see if family members can visit lonely residents, read to a resident with impaired vision, or simply play a board game with residents during the recreation hour.
Contact a local church. Do they have shut-ins who could use some assistance with household chores or yard work?
The United Way of Hill County is coordinating the fifth annual Day of Caring on Saturday, Aug. 23. Groups of volunteers will gather to help Havre senior citizens with minor home repairs. Call 265-6561 to volunteer as a family. Those interested should call immediately to check on volunteer openings.
Kitty Keepers is another Havre organization in need of volunteer help. Children under 16 must volunteer with an adult. Everyone works under supervision to clean the shelter's floors and litter boxes, play with the cats, brush their fur, and so forth. This work takes place seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Call the Kitty Keepers answering machine at 262-2279 to leave a message expressing the desire to volunteer. The owner/operators are very prompt about returning calls.
Keep a journal: Encourage the kids to write about their summer experiences. School supplies are on sale now, and spiral bound notebooks can be purchased for pennies. They make decent journals that the kids can personalize with markers, gel pens, stickers, or photographs.
This will tune up their writing skills before school starts. It will also help them be prepared to answer the classic first-day-of-school question: What did you do this summer?
Pass it on: Have the kids try on their clothing and shoes. Determine what they've outgrown. Then offer the gently used garments to children who would appreciate them. Involving the kids in this enterprise will help them become more generous.
Consider using the above approach for toys, games and stuffed animals, as well. Explain to the children that they need to clear out some of their old things to make room for the new items they will undoubtedly acquire during the coming school year. Anticipating something new can make it easier for children to give up something they no longer use or enjoy.
Make it pay: An alternative approach to passing it on, as described above, would be to hold a yard sale. Have the kids assist with finding surplus items throughout the house. They can help price items, work the event, and make change for customers. This could be a first exposure to retail sales work and customer service.
Tell the children, in advance, that the money made will be used to buy their school supplies and possibly new school clothes. When the kids see the sum their used items are worth versus the price of the new items they desire, they will begin to appreciate the value of a dollar.
Set a budget: Make shopping for school supplies a family affair. Set a budget for each child and help them find the best deals. They can scan the newspapers for ads or compare prices in
the stores. If they're able to buy all their supplies for less than the budgeted amount, allow them to spend the difference on a gift for themselves.
This exercise can be a first lesson in personal financial management. It may also prompt the kids to take more responsibility for their supplies.
Become a tourist: It's easy to miss the tourist attractions in one's own town. Havre has many sites to see. Set a date to visit Fort Assinniboine, west of town off U.S. Highway 87), the Wahkpa Chu'gn buffalo jump behind the Holiday Village Shopping Center, Havre Beneath the Streets, or the H. Earl Clack Museum. Contact the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce office, 265-4383, for information on these and other interesting sites.
If Mom and Dad show an interest in such visits, they will foster curiosity and respect for history in their children.
The HELP Committee and Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line is committed to providing club members and the community with opportunities and training to become productive, responsible and caring citizens. For more information on this or other related topics, call 265-6206.