Tag: summer fun

Touchpoints For Summer PRESENCE

Maggie doing her chores.

As much as we love summer and our kids both can challenge our patience and our energy. My new book – Becoming a Present Parent: Connecting with your children in five minutes or less teaches you how to use touchpoints to connect with your kids. What is a touchpoint – the point at which one person feels seen and heard by another person; when they know they matter. Most touchpoints, there are eight of them,  happen daily and many require five minutes or less. Let me share one touchpoint that will really sweeten the summer pie!

TOUCHPOINT 4 – Chores and Family Work

Thinking about the word WORK can make a parent groan inside because work is often a point of contention in a family. But work can be a place where we create a touchpoint rather than a point of contention if building relationships are our ultimate goal.


Often we get so involved in the management portion of family life that it’s difficult to address the relationship portion. But when we’re Present things work out better.

Everyone wants support when facing a tough job. No one wants to be isolated in a mess. We sometimes forget our kids feel the same way we do.

Moms have had the experience of walking into a disaster of a kitchen after a long day. Your family’s watching TV, and here you are, in this messy kitchen. Where do you start?
How does it feel when your husband abandons his show, comes in and begins helping you pick up? And how does it feel when he also asks you how your day went? It’s amazing!

This happens to dads in garages and backyards. How does it feel when your seventeen-year-old volunteers to help get the backyard in order? How about when your thirteen-year-old offers to spend time helping you organize the garage? It feels better, doesn’t it?

When a child is faced with what seems like a daunting task, check on them. Put your hand on their back or rub a shoulder and say, “Let me give you a hand.” Help them for 2-3 minutes while having a mini-conversation. Then head off to the next child or to your own work. It makes all the difference in how chores feel and in how well they get done. It solidifies relationships. It allows you to be Present with your child for a few minutes.

Chores can be a touchpoint!

You can get more details on how to make chores a touchpoint rather than a point of contention in your home in Chapter four of the book and you can read it for FREE.


Family work is another time when you can create a touchpoint rather than a point of contention. When working as a family we need to keep in mind the objective isn’t just to get another item off the to-do list – we’re creating relationships and bonding our family.
I love gardening alone. I love the quiet and feeling the dirt in my fingers. But I understand it’s an opportunity for me to teach and connect with my grandchildren. Gardening can be transformed into an enduring memory for us all when I remember the garden isn’t what’s important, the relationship is.

Add fun to any work you do as a family – sing, dance as you clean, play great music, tell jokes, laugh, have mini-conversations and lots of random touches.

Things aren’t going to work out all of the time. You’ll have family work that turns into chaos or contention. We’re all imperfect, we get tired, and we have grouchy moments. It’s inevitable. But what if you could make family work more pleasant even one-quarter of the time?

If you can be Present as you work together even one-quarter of the time, your family members will feel supported and relationships will be built. You’ll experience GREAT results in the happiness level of your family.

Learn about the other seven family touchpoints. Read chapter four, Touchpoints, FREE

Happy Summer,
Mary Ann

Family Fun with Summer Science

When I was a girl in the 50’s and 60’s we were expected to do a few things. Grow up, be respectful, get married and have children. Being the fairly obedient person I am that is exactly what I did.

If I was a girl growing up now I would be expected to find out what I love and go do that. If I was a girl now that would include getting married and having children and becoming an entomologist! Yes, I realize that I have a passion for bugs. They are hanging in frames all over my home.

Here is something else I realize, I am intrigued by science. I didn’t fare well in science when I was in school, not even when I was in college. I think I believed that science was beyond me but I have come to understand that science is about every day, it’s about living. Why not have some science moments with your family this summer. It will be fun.

In the following article, by Jamie Strand, an unashamed science nerd, you will discover four ordinary summer events that can help you enjoy a bit of science with your children.

Take it away Jamie –

As the temperature increases, so too do the opportunities for learning science outdoors. When kids explore their environment and connect classroom concepts to their own worlds, they develop not only a deeper understanding but also a more engaged approach to learning science. If you’re looking for ways to teach science to your kids outside as the weather warms, you’ll be inspired by these four outdoor science lessons for warmer weather.

1. Cannonball Splash Physics

Swimming is such an important life skill, and including swimming and water-related activities in science lessons is a perfect way to keep kids interested in what they are learning while teaching them water safety. That’s why one of my favorite outdoor science lessons for warmer weather is Cannonball Splash Physics.

Confident, competent swimmers love to do cannonballs, and using the popular swimming pool jump is a great way to teach kids the science behind winning the splash game. Learning about fluid dynamics helps jumpers understand how to make the biggest splash, so it’s a good idea to let kids experiment with dropping spheres into water first. Water displacement and fluid dynamics will make more sense to kids when they can see what happens on a smaller scale than when they watch people cannonball into a swimming pool.

Kids can experiment with their cannonball technique after learning about fluid dynamics and water displacement to see if they can make a larger splash using their new science knowledge. Try recording kids in slow motion on a smartphone or tablet so they can watch the science behind their cannonballs in action. This outdoor science lesson for warmer weather is sure to make a splash with your kids!

2. Water Balloon Drop

Allowing kids to experiment with water balloons helps them to cool off when the weather gets warm. It also gives them hands-on experience with learning the scientific method, as they form hypotheses about the experiment results in Water Balloon Drop. Kids may like to experiment to find the fastest way to pop a water balloon, which shapes of water balloons are easier to pop, the height of drop required to pop the balloon, and more.

Another option for Water Balloon Drop is to observe the splatter patterns that occur when dropping the balloons from various heights. This outdoor science lesson for warmer weather will help kids to determine whether a water balloon dropped from a greater height falls with more speed and has a larger spatter pattern than a water balloon of the same size dropped from a lower height. Consider adding paint to the balloons to help kids see the splatters more clearly.

3. Chalk Rockets

Most kids love to use chalk outside when the weather warms up, and this spring and summer you can use it to teach science through fun chemical reactions. Chalk Rockets require cornstarch, water, food coloring, film canisters, and Alka-Seltzer tablets. Kids can practice measuring by making liquid sidewalk chalk with the cornstarch, water, and food coloring.

Ask kids to make a hypothesis about what will happen when they add pieces of the Alka-Seltzer tablets to the canisters and put on the lids. Then, break the tablets into three or four pieces and drop them into one canister at a time, before quickly putting on the canister lid and flipping over the canister. Stand back and watch the rocket fly and then observe the chalk art it leaves behind. Students should observe each canister and record height and distance traveled. They may want to experiment by adding more tablet pieces to a canister or changing liquid amounts in each canister.

4. Rainbow Bubble Snakes

Nicer weather means bubbles, and Rainbow Bubble Snakes is an outdoor science lesson for warmer weather that kids will love. This science lesson involves elasticity, surface tension, and chemistry. To allow kids to explore these concepts, help them to create Rainbow Bubble Snakes with an empty water bottle, duct tape, a sock, water, dish soap, and food coloring.

Cut off the bottom of the water bottle and slide the sock over the open bottom. Secure the sock with duct tape. Kids should dip the sock-covered bubble blower into the dish soap/water/food coloring solution and then blow through the neck of the bottle. Once kids see how the Rainbow Bubble Snakes form, they should experiment by blowing with more or less force, adding more dish soap to the solution, and measuring the length of their snakes.

Getting outside as the weather improves can be an educational experience for the whole family. Outdoor science lessons for warmer weather give kids the opportunity to experiment in a hands-on way while asking questions and gaining a better understanding of the scientific method and science concepts.

If you enjoyed this article by Jamie Strand and the resources it provides then you will also enjoy Five Ways to Help Your Child Think Like a Scientist.

Jamie Strand is an unashamed nerd. He teaches community college and loves spending time with his two daughters. He wants to share his love of science and math with kids today and that’s why he and friend got together to create SciCamps.org. Jamie enjoys hiking, camping, and doing science experiments with his daughters. This article originally appeared on home-school-coach.com on April 7, 2016

Sometimes Less is More!

Times change!

I know because I have witnessed almost seven decades of life and I can tell you that times change.

I can remember being four years old, living in sunny CA. I had two sisters younger than me and we were all a year apart. I can see us playing on the front stoop of our home. We were pulling dead pine needles off of the Christmas tree to put in our mud pie cakes.

When I was between the age of eight and fourteen we lived in ID. Summer days are clearly etched into my mind. We ran in a large pack of kids all summer. We played soldiers and nurses (a sign of our time), we swam in the canal and played in the gravel pit. We walked the few blocks to the local grocery store for penny candy (it really cost a penny). I remember finding large rocks in the field, painting them with mud and decorating them with flowers and leaves (a forerunner to almost 50 years of professional cake decorating).

I can remember times that my siblings and I laid out under the stars looking for the milky way or doing the same on a hot summer afternoon searching the clouds as they changed shape from a dinosaur to a huge fish, to a funny long nosed clown or a slow moving turtle.

Those summer days were filled with simple pleasures. We spent our time doing what kids did back then, playing together outdoors, using our imaginations and warding off the sometimes summer boredom. We didn’t dare take that complaint indoors to a parent because it meant work.

But times change. The world is a bit less safe. What kids do for fun has changed. But most of all we have lost the freedom of long, lazy, empty summer days.

Today there is far less down time for kids and families

Here is what I notice when I am mentoring mothers and fathers. There is a feeling that somehow they are just not measuring up. There is the feeling that they need to give their kids more – more lessons, more opportunity to see the world, more trips to the water park, more organized activities. There is the desire to fill their days with things that will give them a leg up in the world.

I want to remind parents that it is valuable to step back and remember that often less is more! That simplicity opens space in a family for Presence, for the opportunity to really create and cement relationships. There is great value in simplifying your calendar in the summer so that there is time to just be together as a family.

What really makes kids happy?

In a study of thirteen to twenty-four-year-olds conducted by the Associated Press and MTV, more than 100 questions were asked of 1,280 young people. The questions were all centered on determining what made these youth happy. Can you guess the number one answer? Spending time with family! Yup, that’s right, spending time with family. These kids and young adults were ages thirteen to twenty-four. (Associated Press, “Youth Happiness Study”). Does this surprise you?

Relationships are built when we learn to be Present with another human being. It requires that we hear and see our children and youth. We can do that best when we are less stressed, less overwhelmed, less busy. We accomplish this as we simplify our calendars, especially in the summer.

Recently I asked my children, their spouses, my cousins and friends what were the best memories they had from when they were kids. Here is a small sampling –

-I remember our family on the fourth of July at the park having a picnic.
-I loved … sitting in the dark with the Christmas lights on in the living room.
-I loved New Year’s Eve and the cheese and meat tray that we ate while sitting on the floor watching a movie.
-I remember our walks together…
-I remember and me sitting under the table reading a chapter of Katie John together.
-I remember mom reading us a chapter each night from Old Yeller. I loved the inflections in her voice, that undivided time with her and the comfort of our warm bed.
-My mom used to sell Avon, and she would keep all the big boxes her orders came in. We used the boxes to makes houses to play in. It was so fun!

What a simple summer day looks like.

Do you notice how simple these things are? They all involve being home with family. They all required down time. They required very little money and no car time. Children need time to be with their siblings and parents. They need and want time to play with other kids un-managed by adults. It helps develop important skills. They want to lay in the grass and ‘waste a bit of time’ staring at the stars.

We are almost finished with July and will be moving into August. Some families return to school in mid August. Wow, the summer is almost gone. Why not take a look at your family’s calendar. Take a hiatus from some of your classes, organized activities, planned trips or events. Make room to see, hear, and respond to your family members by simplifying how much time you spend away from home.

It is valuable to remember that sometimes less is more! What can you do to find more at-home family time this summer?

P.S. You can learn more about the power of simplifying in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less, there is an entire chapter on this one topic.

I invite you to visit becomingapresentparent.com and get a FREE chapter of the book. It’s called Utilizing Touchpoints and it can be life changing for your family. I promise!

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