Summer fun is right around the corner– how prepared are you to jump into another season of flip flops, sunblock and family trips? Most families now a days run their maddening spring schedules right into the hustle and bustle of a sandy summer and rarely stop long enough to catch their breath. But you can’t right? As a parent of four VERY active kids, I know that a dull day in the summer can create total anarchy with the troops resulting in the collapse of any parent’s mental state!
But, is there a way to slow down the pace of life for a few months AND still have a memorable experience with your family and friends? I think so… and I have gathered some helpful tips and ideas to better prepare parents for the coming tide of summer. Grab your summer calendars and pack a towel for what will hopefully be a season of bliss and not just blisters
Make a Budget: Sounds simple enough- right? I’m a firm believer that if you can create a simple weekly budget before you enter the summer state of mind, you will decrease stress and be able to enjoy your get-aways and fun findings through the season. Check out www.everydollarcounts.comfor budgeting help and a free app!
Find a Theme: When I was 9 years old, my Mom bought my sister and I a composition notebook to “scrapbook” with over the summer. I know that sounds a little corny but it was actually pretty cool. Every place we visited we would write a little blurb about it, draw a picture or tape a photo on the page. Finding a theme or project idea for the summer can be challenging, especially if you have multiple kids who have a ton of different interests. Start by trying to pick something more general that could apply to everyone in your crew. It can follow something from a current event, a sports team or if you’re a homeschool family it can be a review of a particular subject.
Variety, Variety, Variety!: I love to hear when kids (and parents) choose something completely out of their “typical” aisle of choices for an activity. Change it up– do a week at a bug camp, then do a family pottery class or pick a weekly family dance class– wouldn’t you love to see Dad do Zumba? Variety gives your kids a chance to experience something brand new– it may open up their world to a cool hobby or interest.
Choose your Own Adventure: Do you remember those little books from your childhood? You read a few pages then you had a choice to either go the Sleepy Swamp where giant snakes were waiting or to the jagged cliffs of Doom’s Canyon– you get to choose your adventure. Same idea… but with less risk. Take your kids on a crazy scavenger hunt or plan a mystery trip to the mountains for a day– but let them tell you where to “go” next and let the adventure unfold.
Pack the Car: I am a firm believer that any summer trip will succeed or fail based on how well you pack the car. If you do more day trips- pack what we call a Bug-out Bag aka Apocalypse Bag (or simply an Emergency Bag). This includes all the basics for your platoon: water bottles, snacks, coloring books, colored pencils, band-aids, wet wipes, roll of paper towels, extra pair of undies (if your kids are younger), electronics (optional) and whatever else is a critical essential for you and your kids. For longer trips check out these helpful tips at http://adventure.howstuffworks.com .
Daily Debrief: One of our favorite ways to end a long summer day is with a daily debrief. Sometimes we go around the dinner table or take a walk in the pasture with popsicles and give our “highlight” of the day. Another fun game to get your family talking is “Rose, Thorn, Bud”. This a popular camp game that allows you to share your favorite experience from the day or week– that’s your “Rose”; your “Bud” is something new that you learned today or even something you may be looking forward to in the coming days; and your “Thorn” was something challenging that you were able to overcome.
These are just a few suggestions to consider as you walk into the crazy summer months. Remember that what our kids want more than anything is time well spent…intentional time with their parents. Of course they’ll never tell you that… but sometimes if you’re really fortunate, you may just see it somewhere on their face past the sunburn.