As a kid, I always looked forward to summer break. Not getting dressed all day. Swimming for hours. Playing with my Barbies whenever I wanted. Eating what I wanted, when I wanted. Yup, life was pretty good. Fast forward a couple of decades, and now I’m the parent of 4 kids who are also looking forward to summer break. Three of those kids are heavily relying on me to provide them entertainment, because times have changed. While I don’t recall asking my parents where we could go each day, my kids will.
With the Internet and Facebook “mom groups” making us feeling guilty about all the things we’re not doing, we now feel the need to keep our children busy most of the summer. But should we? Should we really be scheduling every minute of our children’s days? What about downtime? What about creative and imaginative play? How do you know when and where to draw the line?
I believe that the answer to all of these questions can be summed up in one word… balance. Yes, vacations are nice, afternoons at the pool are wonderful, indoor, rainy days can be fun, hours at the park are great, weeks at camp are exciting, playing sports is fabulous, and days at amusement parks are awesome, but you can’t do that stuff every day. And you really shouldn’t! Again, balance is the key! It’s about what your children want to do and what you think is best to do. So what CAN you do to survive those short few summer months that can feel like it never ends? Here are 7 things you can do!
1) Ask your kiddos what it is that they would like to do. Depending on how large your family is, you might ask them to each pick 1, 2, or 3 things. Older kids are going to “think big”, so you’ll likely need to set some ground rules, like cost, keeping it to a one-day trip, etc. These shouldn’t be big trips that they’re picking, as those would be up to you as a parent. You can give them some ideas of approved, fun items, like I mentioned above. If you can incorporate at least one thing per child, then they’re going to love that they got to have input!
2) Build in some “down time” in the schedule each week. We all need some time to relax and get out of the hot sun. If you see a rainy day coming up in the forecast, then use that day as your “indoor” day. I like to use my indoor days for not only relaxing, but also for picking up, cleaning, and de-cluttering. I also make sure my children are heavily involved in this process! We will usually work hard for a couple of hours and then we’ll relax, play a game, watch a movie, do some coloring, or they’ll just go off and play.
3) Going to the grocery store or other stores can actually be fun when you’re a kid. In the summer, I take either all or at least one kiddo with me to the grocery store each week. It’s a great way to have one-on-one time with each child (if you have a sitter for the other children)! We also do something fun, where someone gets to pick a new fruit, veggie, or other food that we’ve never tried before. It’s a great way to get your kiddos to try new things and get them involved in the process! Depending on the age of the child, I also let them help me with the checkout process, which can be fun for them. So try and make ordinary trips to the supermarket feel like more than just a boring trip to the store. You’ll get to make your kids happy you’re doing something different that day, AND you’ll be getting some much-needed shopping done. Win-win!
4) Plan a few bigger day (or half-day) trips and sprinkle them throughout the summer. There’s nothing worse than having a jam-packed few weeks and then nothing to do after that. If you can spread things out, you’ll find that the kids are complaining less and you’ll all have a few things to look forward to throughout the summer. Some of our favorites are amusement/water parks, zoos, aquariums, science centers/museums, “hands on” centers for smaller kids, beach (if you live close to one), or a lake.
5) Smaller activities are fun, and sometimes even free! These can include going to the local parks (these are great for meet ups with friends), getting a pool pass, and having play dates. If you have a few friends, you can each take turns hosting a play date at each of your houses, which can alleviate boredom without a cost. We also love to go see some not-so-new movies. Our local theaters will offer movie days for kids over the summer, where you can get admission, small popcorn, and a drink all for just $4! The kids love it and it doesn’t break the bank!
6) Camps, camps, and more camps! These are going to cost you a good chunk of change, but they can be worth it to have happy kids and happy parents! These days there are all sorts of camps available, from week long overnight ones, to full day ones, or half day ones. We’ve personally done them all over the years. Some were more popular than others, but they’re always fun. This year, we thought “outside of the box”, and my youngest kids are all taking a cooking camp this summer. I’m hoping they come home super energized to make me some yummy treats! And there are also theater, dance, and other creative camps, as well as sports camps.
7) Besides camps, many organizations are now offering their classes during the summer so that kids can stay on top of their game (so to speak). For example, I have my daughters signed up for a 5 week summer cheer program, as well as a 5 week gymnastics class. There are other summer sports like beach volleyball, swimming, and kickball going on throughout the summer, too. And a lot of Fall sports start in the summer, like football and cheerleading. Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean your kiddos need to stop all of their fun sports or creative classes. It can be a nice way to throw something fun and exciting into the mix!
So as you can see, there are tons of things you can do this summer to keep your children happy and entertained. When it comes to their routines, I would still try to keep their bedtimes and nap times (if applicable) on schedule whenever you can. Sleep must always be a priority, even in the summer. We wouldn’t skimp on feeding our kids some days, so we shouldn’t skimp on their getting good sleep either. They need an appropriate amount of sleep each night to stay healthy, think clearly, and play hard during the day. They’re also much more cranky if they don’t get the amount of sleep they need, so it’s in everyone’s best interests that they sleep well!
If your child is having trouble falling asleep, sleeping through the night, or taking good naps, I can help! Check out my Services page to see how! I can also help YOU sleep and feel better, too. With my adult packages, I work with adults to help them find the root cause of their sleep issues (provided it’s not because of your child), and give provide solutions they can use immediately. I am happy to offer free 15min phone assessments to talk about your family’s sleep issues. And I also have some wonderful courses over on my Learn site that can help with children’s sleep and also a parenting course to help you with your child’s behavior!