When my kids were young, I approached summer break much like a cruise director trying to keep the guests happy and peaceful. I scheduled camps and play groups. I planned activities and quiet times. Sometimes I over-scheduled and the kids were frustrated. Sometimes I allotted too much downtime, which meant squabbles. Of course, all of my well laid plans were pretty much kaput half way into July. Then I reverted to survival of the fittest (and whining to my husband when he came home from work).
Teenage summers are admittedly different. In the face of long, hot, relatively unstructured days I'm getting this carpe diem sort of feeling -- like let's do SOMETHING with these fleeting days of freedom. Let's make memories. Let's stuff these last years at home with goodness and laughter and work. I do love kids working. Makes me feel fuzzy all over.
So here's my current let's-make-the-most-of-summer idea:
Naval Admiral William H. McRaven's commencement address given this year at the University of Texas (which has been making the rounds on Facebook) is an outstanding and inspirational list of ways young people (and anyone really) can change the world. McRaven takes the lessons he learned from Basic Seal Training and turns them into metaphors for living a successful, world-changing life. Hooyah! Sign me up.
My plan is to take one of McRaven's lessons each week as the basis for a family discussion or activity -- challenging each family member to contemplate and apply that lesson during their week. The first one is easy. Make your bed. Here's what McRaven had to say:
"Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.
If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack--rack--that's Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task--mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our beds to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that we were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs--but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter.
If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed."
I can do that! My kids can do that! And goodness knows we all could use a little more 'sense of accomplishment' in our lives. Read the entire address -- it really gets you excited to make a difference.
On a side note: My family (myself included) is particularly in awe of SEAL training. We've been watching Surviving the Cut on Netflix, which follows different special forces training classes. It's so brutal, but also a fantastic manifestation of the limitless potential of the body and mind.