While thoughts of summer vacation send most children cheering, it may send some parents cringing. Just as a successful school year takes planning, a successful summertime also benefits from careful consideration. For me, I have always leapt into summer with my kids. My struggle has been finding a balance between planning too many fun things and just enjoying each other in our home. Some of the lessons and badges I have learned in Kelly kid camp (not withstanding some of the scrapes and battle scars that got me them) follow like a Baskins’ Robbins’ ice cream cone, unique to our family’s different personalities, age levels, and interests. Others are more universal.
1) Go into summer with an idea of what you want to do with your family and learn what they want to do. I like to experience local happenings, such as our community’s summer recreation program, area festivals, community concerts, LOTS of library time, with a smattering of play dates and play parties here, and city time, and if possible a designated vacation next to a (any) body of water. This can run right in line with what my children like or off to right field. I have learned that on any given day or week we may need to compromise. Sometimes there isn’t an outing and we enjoy being home reading, baking, bike riding, and playing outside here. Last summer, we had a newborn baby in the house and our pace tried to reflect it. That baby is just a year now, so we will also reflect that this summer. Or it does not always need to be a big outing. Sometime, we pick one activity a day- a trip to story time, a grandparent’s house, the pool. Or we do our normal routine most days and pick one big outing, outside of our community, per week. (More on the normal routine to follow).
2) Switch up your normal routine and get a “new normal” for summertime. Call it getting your summer on, becoming a little more Jimmy Buffet in your home, getting more chill, whatever, summer is about a looser, more free schedule. When that crunched for time feeling sets in during the summer I know we are trying to do waaaaaaay too much!!! The only crunchy feeling in summer should come from too much time outside.. Make home the new oasis in the summer. Find great spots around your home or in your backyard to read a book, play a game, have the best fort, camp, zoo, etc. This brings me to my next point.
3) Make summer refreshing and restorative
Pace yourself and keep that summer feeling there. For better or worse, we have the school year for that faster pace. Loosen parts of your normal routine that feel like staccato clock work during the school year, to make way for special events during summer. Keep the parts of your routine that serve your family best. In our home, bedtimes need to stay largely the same. While certain nights, it can’t be helped, the nights it can make the days that follow brighter, calmer, smoother, and more fun. Well rested, we can be more impromptu and not be slowed down by tiredness and grumpiness, all the way around.
Try on some new activities for size. Summer is the perfect times for letting your child try a new sport or hobby they have wanted to do. Our community’s youth soccer league starts the week after school lets out. Many communities have summer sports. From libraries to museums, there are special children’s programs and camps going on that are featuring everything from science to history. Summer offers the perfect chance to experience some of these wonderful offerings for a trial period.
Keep the parental reserve strong. For stay at home parents; parents who are off in the summer with their children; parents who are working extra hours during the summer and are trying to squeeze every or any ounce of summertime fun in with their kids, and single parents who shoulder so much added responsibilities, such pressure can be daunting and exhausting. Make some deposits into your reserves to keep your energy up, for your own sake, sanity, and preservation of the family. A date night; a night out with friends; sending the children to grandma’s, another family members, or close friends for a few hours, the night, or a few days; or even an hour or two alone while your child does activities can go far in recharging the batteries. It’s hard to be recreation director and Mom/Dad! Rome and childhood weren’t completed in a day. Taking care of you, means taking better care of them….
Note: For more ideas on low cost/educational summer fun and activities for your children try these resources: