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A last wave at the window. (lessons learnt from the last day of term and how they can shape your summer).

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July is a hugely sentimental and emotive time of year for families. There is an army of anxious parents out there right now who are anticipating September, even though it is still July. These are the parents of the four and eleven-year-olds who are facing a huge shift in the lives of their children and their family dynamic.

Even parents with ‘children in the middle’ (not 4 or 11 but somewhere in between) are aware of July as a pretty big marker in the passing of time. Their little ones are suddenly an academic year older. Pretty much every

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day since September I have accompanied my 6-year-old to her classroom in the morning. We have hung up her bag, fished out her water bottle and reading folder, greeted her teacher at the door and parted with a kiss and a squeeze and always a whispered word from Poppy .. ‘can you wave at the window Mama?’. Cue me walking back round to the outside, normally with her younger brother on my hip and we wave like mad at each other and blow kisses. I am a massive sentimental fool but this morning was the last time we will do that exact routine. It is the last
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day of term and although I have ‘middlings’ (my children are 8, 6 and 3) I am still sad. I had to wipe away a tear and hastily fish out my sunglasses. They are growing up. Time is passing. I am going to miss this.

Every day can feel like groundhog day when you are a parent … the rush to get out in the morning … to get to school .. to work … to get dinner on the table … to complete homework .. to get the shopping … etc etc. But time is flashing by all the time. The saying ‘the days are long but the years are short’ has never been so

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apt. We MUST try harder to enjoy the journey. To notice.

It is the cusp of the summer holidays. This is the perfect time to recognise the development of our children and acknowledge that they are growing. But it is also a brilliant opportunity to use this acknowledgment to make some really positive changes to family life. Life seems to be flashing by before our very eyes … so use this summer as a wonderful opportunity to embrace it. Use the extra time to really get to know your children and allow them to get to know you better too.

How do you do

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this? By spending positive time together. This does not mean spending huge amounts of money (or any money at all). It is far more an investment of time than cash. This will mean different things to each family as time spent together will vary BUT ensure you set aside some quality time together every day, where you really tune in and listen and notice. To minimise distractions, leave your phone in another room or call me crazy … turn it off for a bit. I know. Woah there! We have an absolute tonne of wonderful activities, ideas and inspiration to fill
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this family time in our bundle SUMMER, so we have that side of things covered – one less thing to have to factor into our busy family lives.

As parents, our connection to our children is vital. Communication is hugely important. As they grow and change, we want them to continue to talk to us, to confide, to know each other. To achieve this, an investment of time is the most important thing. We can so easily ‘co-exist’ in the same household, each going about our own business, watching our own things on our own individual screens and slowly but

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surely the connection slips. That chunky toddler you spent hours with building towers out of bricks and knocking them over is suddenly 10, and you have stopped investing so much time in them because they have stopped expecting you to. Keep building those towers.

Time more than anything else will allow you to really know your children and for them to see the best side of you too.

Have a wonderful summer together.

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Linda McNeill

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- 27 Jul 19

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Linda McNeill

Mum to 3. Wife to 1. Founder and creator of The Positive Family Academy. Inspiring families to reclaim quality family time and have a whole lot of fun in the process.

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