It’s tempting to try and fill up the summer with activities for the kids. I received my first summer stressor way back in December during Winter Break. The mother of one of my children’s friends sent out an email detailing the summer’s week by week schedule for her two children ages 4 and 8. She had them occupied from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm all but 2 weeks and was searching for suggestions to fill that time. All the activities looked very fun. I focused on that for a moment and was tempted. Then my mind quickly turned to the cost of each activity, the driving back and forth and the logistics of taking the kids to different events each day. This would be extremely expensive and exhausting.
The first few days of summer may prove to be a difficult transition for you and your children. If you are able to forgo 9 hours of care/activities for your children, consider taking things a bit slower this summer. Consider a different kind of summer filled with time to engage, enjoy and explore with your children.
While it may be necessary to have a daily activity to anchor your day, resist the urge to over-schedule your children and over-burden yourself in turn. Select a couple activities or short week-long classes for your children, so you and your children will gain the most from this summer break.
Here are a few inexpensive or free activities to try this summer:
- Run through the lawn sprinkler in your own yard. Go on a walk through the neighborhood and run under sprinklers that spray the sidewalks as well.
- Visit your local library. Most libraries have great summer programs. Plus, you can encourage your children to read and pick up a DVD for an especially long day.
- Make a collage of photos, homemade artwork or pictures from magazines.
- Decorate your sidewalk and driveway with chalk art.
- Make edible necklaces with Fruit Loops, Lifesavers, Cheerios, Apple Jacks, etc.
- Take a magnifying glass out and explore the world outside and indoors.
- Blindfold your children and then do a smell and taste guessing game.
- Make monthly donations to Goodwill or other charities.
- Paint and then build with old cardboard boxes.
- Go to a different local park each week.
- Plant something and help it grow.
- Enlist the help of your children around the house. A child as young as 18 months can help put toys way and their dirty clothes in a basket. Older children can sweep, fold and put away laundry, load and unload the dishwasher, do some lawn work, etc.
- Plan an ice-cream for dinner night. It’ll be one meal when you don’t focus on nutrition—just fun.
- Cook. Allow your children to help plan and prepare meals.
- Dress up in costumes of your children’s own creation and those from Halloween’s past.
- Let the children have a lemonade stand.