Summer Time lives in our imaginations throughout the year because it nourishes our souls. The warmth….the fun…the sheer deliciousness. But mostly, the luxury of time (well for some of us), a short break from school. Time to explore, to make few new friends, to get out there and have some fun. The vivid aliveness and freedom of a child in the sun., on a beach, outdoors or just out in the garden is such a beautiful experience.
Does this sound like the summer your child is having? Or is he/she glued to an electronic screen, or having to get up early and heading to grandmas house so you can get to work? Or are they already bored?…
Of course, your kids also need some time to relax and and those are the days where you might make the best memories. Sometimes all they need is your time. I know that sounds like the one thing you don’t have enough of. If you’re anything like most parents, you have a long list of things that need to get done and you feel a little (or a lot!) overwhelmed. But it’s summer. Your kids won’t be kids forever. This is the stuff their childhood memories are made of. These are the experiences that shape who they become.
As George R.R. Martin says, “Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.” Why not decide now to make the most of this opportunity to connect with your kids? Here are 10 simple tips to make summertime the best time ever with your kids.
1. Set aside some time every day to have fun with your child.
Whether it’s running through the sprinkler together on a hot afternoon or counting the stars on a blanket in the backyard before bedtime, do at least one thing a day to connect and have fun. Remember, what matters is always how it FEELS, not how it LOOKS. Your child doesn’t need a Martha Stewart activity; just a loving connection with you.
2. Find the “sweet spot” for structure.
Research shows that kids get stressed during the school year from academics, homework, the social scene, and all the activities. They really need time to chill and relax. But they also need structure, meaning they need their day and week to have a shape — so they know what to expect.
3. Commit to de-stressing and just enjoying your life in summertime.
Kids pick up our attitudes. If you’re stressed, they’ll be stressed, and they’ll fight with each other and drive you crazy. Even if you have to go to work, can you find a way to dial down your stress for the summer? And if you’re lucky enough to be home with the kids, don’t you deserve a delicious summer as much as your children do? Your positive attitude will create a relaxed, happy mood in your house.
4. Help your kids develop a healthy relationship with time
…one that includes the important life skill of being comfortable with their own company, without technology. Time is, after all, what life is made of. To help kids learn to reclaim their time, set up a Boredom Buster Jar. A quick search on Google and you should find hundreds.
5. Encourage your child to try something new this summer.
There’s no time like the summer to dabble, experiment, and play with creativity. Maybe they want to try painting, Create an Outdoor Science Lab or Plan a Treasure Hunt. Maybe they want to try writing a short story or learn how to throw a frisbee. New activities encourage brain development and build your child’s focus, frustration management and impulse control.
6. Strictly limit technology to certain times of the day.
When kids are bored and it’s hot outside, screen time has a way of swallowing up all their time. It may be a good babysitter, but we all know that’s not what kids need. The more you limit screen time, the better kids get at finding creative things to do with their time — and the less they bug you to watch TV or play computer games.
7. Institute daily reading time and regular library visits.
Books open the imagination, make time disappear, and give kids a wholesome alternative to screens. (Reading is also highly correlated with school achievement.) Reading to your child develops a love of stories and books, which is what starts them wanting to read on their own.
8. Be aware that you’ll need some transition time.
If your child is going on a camp or away with family or even to stay at the grandparents for a weekend.Take time to play with your child in advance, because those belly laughs reduce anxiety and will help them feel less nervous that first day or so. And if your child is just home enjoying some down time, remember that sometimes when kids are released from structure, all those stressed feelings they’ve been carrying they seem to suddenly get a bit high-strung.. So be aware that you might have a few grumpy days, plan on a few meltdowns, and make sure to build as much roughhousing and laughter as possible into your days.
9. Plan some fantastic family memories, even if you don’t have the money or time to head off on vacation.
Don’t wait. The key is to get out a calendar and schedule the things you really want to do.
Start at dinner tonight by asking everyone what they’ve loved most about summertime. Then ask each person to pick one thing for the whole family to do that will make their summertime the best ever. Set parameters before you start.
Here’s a list of ideas to get you started:
Buy a badminton set and have a weekend tournament for all your friends and family, complete with a potluck barbecue.
Set up a water festival in your backyard that includes dunking, running through sprinklers, a water balloon toss game, a slip ‘n slide, and a water balloon fight. Let your kids invite all their friends, and invite a few of yours, too. Celebrate the end of the day with watermelon.
Rent bikes and follow a local bike path you’ve never been on. Stop for ice cream cones.
Go camping. Go hiking, catch fireflies, roast marshmallows, sing songs, snuggle on a blanket and watch the fire together.
Go tubing. Or canoeing. Or rafting.
Have a dinner picnic and watch the sunset (bring the bug repellent.)
Go to the beach and spend the day body surfing. When you get cold, collect shells and use them to decorate your sand castle.
Go to bed really early some night when you’re tired, and get up for the sunrise. Bring donuts and coffee.
Make homemade ice cream. (You don’t need an ice cream maker, just rock salt and plastic bags; there are recipes online.)
Buy a mess of crabs and cook them up with some corn on the cob. Let the kids stay up late playing tag as it gets dark.
You get the idea. Encourage your family to come up with their ideal scenarios and make a few of them happen. Be sure to toast the family member who chose the activity, and take lots of pictures.
10. At the end of Summer Time, print out all your summer photos and make a Summer album.