We live in a busy world filled with a million sights and sounds, as well as interesting and important things to do.  As lovely as that is sometimes, it can also be overwhelming—particularly for children.  As we head into the summer it is time take a deep breath. Here are some tips from Barbara Smith, a therapist in our Bozeman office.

1. Think about your family values.

As you head into the summer, take a look at your own schedule and think about the lessons you are teaching your children.  Are you leaving spaces for imagination, conversations, reading a novel, or spontaneous creative projects?  At a recent family gathering, my 14-year old granddaughter curled up on the floor and picked up her knitting. She joined me and her great-grandmother in one of our favorite pastimes.  Two months later, her great-grandmother died and we are glad to have the memory of shared time together.

2. Do things that add meaning to your life.

Make sure the things in your schedule add meaning.  In many families, both partners work and it is hard to carve out these precious moments of time together. We can easily spend a lot of time on our screens or constantly have our ears filled with music from our iPods.  Try instituting days where the electronics stay off and out of sight! Find activities to do together with out the help of a cellphone or tablet.

3. Keep things in balance!

Fill your family’s life with wonderful things, but pay attention to keeping things in balance. Make sure to schedule time to be together as a family. Amidst all of activities of summer schedule unstructured time for you and your family. Lazy mornings or long barbecues in the twilight hours of summer nights are when some of the best memories are made.

4. Get outside.

Find time to get outside! We need time to just let our minds wander, to ponder the big questions, to explore who we are, where we’ve been and where we are going.  When I was a child, we spent hours playing together in the woods.  It gave us a chance to be in nature, develop our imaginations, come up with ways to entertain ourselves.

In our country, “family values” get a lot of lip service, but often get pushed off the back burner in our busy lives. This summer to carve out some time to take a pause as a family. Use the long days of summer to create lasting memories and build your family bond.


 Barbara Smith has been with Youth Dynamics for over five and a half years. She is a therapist in our Bozeman office. Her formal education includes an MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy and a double major BA in Women’s Studies and Creative Writing.  Barbara’s much more intense education involved being the mother of four children—one of whom has mental health/behavioral challenges.  Barbara’s major accomplishment in 2016 was celebrating her 50th anniversary with her husband.  Despite the frequent struggles in the work she does, the sweet successes give her life meaning.

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