Before you fill up your kids’ summer schedule with camps, sports practices and games, and multiple Vacation Bible Schools, take a moment and consider the possibility of a more relaxed and memorable summer break this year.
Sending the kids off to experience summer with their peers can certainly be a fun part of summer. Yet too many parents miss out on this amazing opportunity to spend time together making great memories.
If you tend to be overwhelmed at the thought of everyone being home for the summer, trust me—a little bit of planning goes a long way.
It isn’t necessary for you to come up with every activity on your own. And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. Just take advantage of what’s already around you—maybe with a little help from Pinterest!
Here are few ideas to get you thinking in a fresh way:
- Include your kids in the planning. At the beginning of the summer, ask your kids to set a few goals for the summer. What one thing would they like to be able to do? What would they like to learn? What would they like to experience? Take these into consideration as you are making plans.
Encourage reading. Keep your kids reading during the summer. Whether it’s mysteries, comics, or fiction, books open up a whole new world to children. They can explore faraway places or experience something they’ve never been able to. The key is to find books on subjects they are interested in. Read through a longer book as a family, one chapter a day; or maybe with just one or two of your children. You may need to have some incentives to keep them reading (beyond your library’s summer reading program), but it’s well worth it! Remind your children that if they can read well, they can learn anything they want to in life. As my husband says, “Leaders are readers.” Getting them on the right foot with reading pays benefits far beyond just this summer.
Make rainy days fun. The typical reaction to a rainy day is disappointment. Plans often have to change when the weather gets stormy. Take charge and make rainy days especially fun! We had two treasured things that were characteristic of rainy days in our home: garage parties and chocolate chip cookies. Garage parties were a simple alternative to playing outside and they offered their own unique options. From riding bikes to roller blading to having a picnic, garage parties put a smile on our kids’ faces. And the chocolate chip cookies were always a bonus.
Explore your city (or one nearby). Summer allows us extra time to visit museums, parks and places of interest in our very own hometown. One summer while I was growing up, my mom made a list of all the interesting places to visit in our city and we explored them one after another. I will never forget that summer—especially since my mom was the tour guide for every trip. Find out what your city offers for kids. Your local library or kids organization will have a listing of all extra special events offered during the summer.
There’s no place like home. Sometimes we get so focused on providing activities outside the home, we forget to give our kids the chance to just chill. Time at home can be fun as well. Make a list of some things to do while back at the ranch: build a fort, sleep in a tent, set up a lemonade stand, try a new recipe with mom, do some arts and crafts, learn a new skill….the list is endless. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy something new.
Break the rules. Sometimes it’s fun to have your kids see you break the rules. Wake them up at midnight for ice cream; kidnap them and go watch a sunrise; eat dessert first; let them make a mess; run outside in the rain; play in the mud. We can always get cleaned up and back on track later.
Summer should be a special time for families. A little planning and enthusiasm can make this summer extremely fun and memorable—and relaxing at the same time.
Question: What is one favorite activity of your family that makes summertime special? Share your answer in the comments below.