I always get so excited and anxious this time of year….. Summer is just around the corner. There is so much fun to be had, vacations to take, family and friends to visit. It also entails several hours of time that you now need to fill to keep the kids entertained, out of each other’s space and hopefully prevent them from driving each other crazy. Or driving you crazy! This can be a major challenge. So I have put some ideas together to help keep our summer on track…. Having lots of fun, and keeping it balanced.
First things first – Keep a routine schedule – We have a tendency, when summer comes, to drop our regular routine and well, slack. It may be fine to loosen up the strings on bedtimes, in hopes that they will sleep in an hour or so, but don’t completely drop the ball on the system you worked so hard to put in place during the school year. Having a schedule helps keep the kids on point…. and you as well.
Don’t over schedule activities – Nothing will make you or your children want to become “house hermits” more than being drug around all day, every day, to do a bunch of stuff they don’t want to do. I recommend planning one outing or adventure a week….. This gives you plenty of time to plan in between trips, make adjustments if needed, and gives you all time to rest. This also helps maintain consistency throughout the summer.
Where do you start? – I suggest creating a Family Summer Bucket List first thing. Make sure that everyone contributes to this list. Each person should have at least two things to do, or places they want to go before the summer is over. You can make this an actual list and post it on the wall…. or you can write it in on your calendar. Whatever works best for you is fine….. as long as every body can see it each day so it doesn’t get forgotten about!
Vacations – Obviously summer break is the time of year that families plan their big vacation get-a-ways. If your family tradition is a big trip every summer, do that….. We plan our big trips 3-4 years apart. Then on our summers in between we do more week-end trips and things like that. What ever you have the resources for and you like to do, you can’t go wrong.
Plan one date day a month with each one of your kids, individually – I find it fairly easy to break off with each one of my kids during the school year because they have so many different things going on. But, this is a bit more of a challenge during the summer….. All the more reason you need to make it happen. They definitely need your undivided attention and it gives them a break from each other as well. If you have the ability to make it an all day event, great. If you can only get away for a couple of hours, that’s great too. Do what ever you can.
Take a weekend for you and your spouse, at least one – You deserve to have each other to yourselves….. and probably don’t do it enough. If you want to go some where you have never been.. or fly away to Paris; Amazing. If you take a hike or climb to the top of a mountain and crack open a bottle of wine; even better. Make sure you apply the “don’t over schedule” rule to this as well. The focus should be about spending time together, and connecting, however you BOTH enjoy doing that.
Get every one a journal – Have them write in it at least once a week. It is a good time filler and it keeps their creative brains working over the break. I think it will be so much fun to sit around the fire pit on Sunday evenings and have each of us share our stories of the week. It will be good to hear their prospective as well, then you can gauge how much fun they are having and what you may want to do differently.
Have get-togethers – Whether you prefer play dates, family bar-b-ques, or dinner parties…. This is one of the funnest and easiest ways to enjoy the summer. We never get to see our family and friends enough… Make it happen! It also gives you a great reason to try out all of those new recipes you have saved, but haven’t made yet!
If you get stuck – Here is a short list of ideas that can help you out if you get stuck…. or need to fill in the gaps:
- Go to the ocean – Always a blast. And don’t forget the sunscreen!
- Visit a museum, aquarium, or the zoo
- Go fishing – Make sure to pack a lunch, this can be an all day event.
- Visit a city or landmark near you that you have never been to.
- The movie theater (if you can all agree on the same movie)
- Join a climbing gym – great exercise and it gets you out of the sun for a while.
- Summer reading contest – See who can log the most minutes and/or books.
If all else fails – Turn on a sprinkler. This has never let me down yet….. Even the dog loves it. And it can keep them entertained for hours!
Whatever you and your family choose to do this summer: Be safe, be close, and enjoy it.