Now that the school year has begun, I have some time to reflect on my summer. For the first time in my life, I went to camp! Although I was not a camper, I felt the same excitement as my kids. I built a TV studio from scratch to teach kids from ages four to 13 how to make television. For eight weeks, I got to have fun, sing, dance, cheer, and make hundreds of kids smile. But what I got out of it on a personal level was far more significant than I could have imagined.
Here are 10 things I learned that not only changed my life but my relationship with my kids.
1. Go Outside
Everyday I was at camp by 7:30 a.m. and felt amazing. There is nothing like being outside to get you motivated and connected to yourself and to nature. When the kids start getting cranky, take a time out and head outside to play together.
2. Have Fun
Camp let me get back in touch with the fun side of me that existed before I became a mom. Being silly, dancing, singing, cheering and having a great time is essential to the spirit. If you find yourself in a rut or overwhelmed, take a break and do something ridiculous. Not only will you have a great time, but you will be teaching your kids how to effectively manage stress.
At camp I realized that it is hard to have a bad day when you are singing and dancing. When you are feeling down, have no energy or are generally unmotivated, start a dance party. Turn up the tunes, move your body and belt it out. Before you know it the fog is lifted! This definitely helps with the kids. When they get crabby, bored or you want them to do something, make up a song or cheer and start dancing around. Watch them light up, join in and even clean up with a smile.
4. Disconnect From Technology
There was no technology at camp. It was glorious! Taking a break from the vortex of being wired reminded me that real life connections are so much more important. I had actual conversations with people face to face. When you communicate with your kids, make sure to look them in the eyes and give them your full attention and watch how that changes their interactions with you.
5. Joy Is Contagious
The thing about camp is that everyone is happy. Even if you are having a rough day, when you look around and see smiling and laughing you can't help but join in the festivities. When you are having a rough day with the kids, stop and do something fun. Play a game, break out in song or just start laughing, it becomes infectious and the bad moods melt away.
6. Try New Things
Camp had such amazing activities and I watched many kids take a chance on something new, including my own child who went on a trapeze for the first time. Stepping out of your comfort zone is nerve-wracking but also exhilarating. When you test your limits and try new things, you grow as a person and may discover talents and passions that could lead to exciting new possibilities in your life.
7. Make New Friends
Just as trying new things makes you grow as a person, so does meeting new people. I feel really lucky to have broadened my horizons and connected with some wonderful people during camp. A support system for moms is essential and new people can enrich your life in different ways. Go out and meet some new friends. You may find your next business partner, muse or BFF.
8. Be Part of A Team
There were a lot of competitive activities at camp, but one of the prevailing lessons was good sportsmanship. At the end of the day, everyone cheered for each other to succeed because win or lose, we all got ice pops. Try playing up the team aspect of family. Remind your kids that if they each contribute something and communicate effectively with each other that every day can be awesome.
9. People Make the Difference
No matter how many cool activities there were at camp, what really made every day fun was the people. Counsellors and campers supporting each other and building lifelong friendships. No matter how many things you have or how many places you go, what really makes the most impact in your life is being around people who love and understand you. It is imperative to have people who you can talk to, have fun with and be completely yourself. Create that kind of uplifting environment at home and watch your family thrive.
10. Everyday Is Special
One of the things that contributes to making camp so amazing is that it only lasts for eight weeks and then it is over. This makes it feel like a once in a lifetime experience. When you live each day like this, it will help you appreciate every moment in your life. As a parent this is particularly important. With all the stress you have on a daily basis with your little ones it is hard to enjoy the process but keep in mind that it goes by really quickly. Make sure to stop and take it all in, or you will miss out on this very special time with your kids.