Needless to say, summertime doesn’t mean blissful days with nary a care in the world. There are scheduling, child care and transport challenges, especially for families with two working parents. Due to the cost, camp isn’t always feasible, or at least not for the entire summer. But you can still celebrate the small freedoms that summer brings even if they’re as simple as eating dinner outside, having ice-cream cones or running through the sprinkler. Here are eight ideas for seizing the day this summer.
- The Roses Need Smelling: Summer is upon us and I am here to remind you to stop and smell the roses. Literally. The adage is old and well-used for good reason, especially for those of us running around like parents with our heads cut off. Give yourself time to stop and breathe in the fragrant air, soak in some sun and let go of some of the mental and emotional pressures of the school year.
- Let’s Make a Deal: Negotiate with your kids! Together you can create a chart that includes their wish list of summer activities as well as a list of responsibilities they’re willing to take on to earn a visit to the arcade or amusement park. Weed the garden? Wash the car? Babysit their younger sibling? Clean the garage! (Imagine the possibilities!)
- Play Hooky from Work: Well, not exactly. But figure out if there are ways you can free up some time in your work schedule. Arrive a half hour later than usual or take off an hour early. Work half day Fridays? Work from home one day a week?
- Camp Grandparent: Are your parents (or your spouse’s parents) up for a visit from your brood? Or perhaps they can come to you. Summer can be a good time to let the grandparents come up with and supervise a few days of summer adventures.
- Let Them Be Bored: The struggle to keep our kids occupied and entertained during the summer can be daunting, especially if we dread hearing them complain they’re bored. When they do, just nod and say, “I love bored”. Don’t offer any options to fill that void and don’t allow a screen to be the default solution. Give them the chance to figure out what can bloom from boredom.
- Keeping the Peace: More time at home together can mean your kids are more prone to aggravating and bickering with each other. Up front, decide as a family how you’re going to handle conflict. In calm moments, talk about anger, jealousy and resentment. When conflict occurs, remind them of your joint decisions. Instead of being reactive, step back, breathe and decide how you want to respond.
- Read All About It: Let your local library be your friend. Check out books and take them everywhere with you— in the car, to a dentist appointment, on road trips. Give your kids a summer reading challenge (or participate in one put on by your library). The PBS website features “Reading Milestones” for kids in preschool through third grade.
- Creativity Wins the Day: It sounds hokey, but how about all of you coming up with a summer-long creative family project? Research the family tree, build a fort, paint a piece of furniture or plant an herb garden, make mosaic tiles.
Not sure how we managed to survive summers before the internet and its treasure trove of resources. Here are just a few: Very Well Family has a great list of 100 Summer Fun Ideas for Kids and Parents. Good Housekeeping features a host of art projects and Real Simple has put out a checklist of simple, mostly free, summer indulgences.