Summer with kids. It can be the best of times; it can be the worst of times, all depending on your favourite little people. So here’s my two cents on some of the many ways to make the rest of this summer a little more magical for your bambinos. It’s literally five of the simplest, yet most important things you can do this Summer.
1. Get Away
New places and unique spaces will inspire curiosity and creativity in kids, but sometimes it’s hard to work up the energy to try something or somewhere new when you’re an exhausted grownup that would rather just curl up on the couch in front of the tv.
Think about how many times you have sat in shock as you watched your child ditch a merely two-day old gift in favour of the box it came in, and as they sit in their “spaceship” or “car” or whatever that box now is, you can’t help but wonder if you wasted your money.
Well there are studies that suggest what you already suspected is indeed true—congratulations! 20% to 67% of toys are unvalued or unwanted. On the other hand any kind of family trip, staycation or vacation scores big on your kid’s awesomeness meter. Oliver James, Britain’s best-selling psychologist says that “family holidays are definitely valued by children, both in the moment and for long afterwards in their memory.
So if you’re going to spend money on something, it’s pretty clear which option makes more sense…holidays remove us, physically, from our highly pressured everyday lives where everyone is focused on meeting targets. They are times when everyone can relax and be playful together.” So take that beach day that you keep saying you need. Give yourself permission to get away.
2. Get Wild
Green therapy, as funny as it sounds, is a real thing. Simply expose yourself to nature for a few hours a week and it will have a profound effect on your health and general well being. Stanford researchers found a link between being exposed to nature and mental health, and a 2017 European study even found it reduces depression and obesity amongst other things.
So no more excuses, let’s head for the hills! Your mind and your body need it and there are lots of ways to do it; you could take a drive through the countryside, write out or download a nature scavenger hunt from Pinterest and take it to a park or somewhere in the country that has public access (Get more ideas here).
You can make your own Bingo game from drawings or words for all the likely things you will see on your drive there: for example, trucks, gas stations, a cow etc. Get those little kiddie minds engaged with their fingers and eyes and they won’t ever forget it. Involve the senses: play I-Spy games or change it up just for fun to an I-Smell game, day camp, take a hike, follow a trail. Go somewhere you’ve never gone before. In Barbados they offer free guided hikes that I highly recommend and thoroughly enjoy, you can learn more here. I haven’t found any age guidelines so you may want to call first to see if your child meets their restrictions if any exist. Go get your green on!
3. Go Delete
Delete ALL of your social media apps and stay off your phone while in the presence of your children for one week. I dare you!
Okay, ha ha I know some of you died when you read that but if you know you really can’t do a week start with one day….just one day…and practice mindfulness (wink wink).
Let’s be real, we don’t need a study to tell us when we’re ignoring our kids, deep down we know it. Can we really check emails or social media, prep dinner and still give little Jason or Mary the best part of our attention? If your answer is “no” then deleting distractions is a great way to get off of auto-pilot. Start with just one day…you can do it, do it, DO it.
4. Get Silly
What could be more fun for your kids than a summer calendar of made up silly holidays? Create your own and you have super control over what kind of fun you get to have. Here are some examples: ● Dress Mom or Dad Day: Kids choose the parent’s clothes (not for work days—you have been forewarned) ● Silly Hats Day: These can be purchased or made as a craft activity (Check pinterest for ideas). ● Backwards Day: This can be as basic as just dressing backwards, as silly as having to walk backwards or as complex as trying to talk backwards, there’s no limit to how to interpret it but your kids will have fun (especially if you bump into a few walls). ● Good Neighbour Day: Bake a treat for your neighbour with the kids OR ask if you and the kids can help them out in any way. (Here are some toddler approved recipes) ● Prank Day: Parents can prank too, but there should be a written list of rules, for everyone’s sake. ● Switch Day: Kids become the parents and have to do a few ‘grown up’ chores including meal prep, but be sneaky and help your kids out (chores should be reasonably age appropriate). ● Eat What You Want Day: Prepare the fridge with many kid friendly easy to eat options.
● Act of Kindness Day: Let the kids choose from a list of good deeds. (Here’s an example on Pinterest) ● Snowflake Day: Everyone celebrates their own unique personality. Create or do something that celebrates what you are good at. (The name comes from the following Daniel Tiger episode)
5. Get Writing and Snapping
Create a Memory Jar: By simply getting the kids to write a few words about a good day they had or printing a few pictures of a fun experience you had together, you would be making a family journal. You can review it at the end of every year, remember how awesome a year you had and inspire even more gratefulness in your children. Check out Pinterest for some cool Memory Jar ideas: So the short version of all this for the skimmers amongst us is make memories this summer, and if you absolutely hated all of these ideas just reverse engineer your own best memories. Ask yourself what were the most memorable and fun moments you had with your parents. Got it pictured? Is there a pattern, is there a common thread? There was a reason those memories stick out the most to you. Find that reason and recreate it in new ways, for yourself and for your kids. I hope you enjoyed these tips, be safe and have fun in these final weeks of Summer!
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Petula Miller Parent Blogger
Petula is a busy mom of three, and the author of “How The Grumpy Pants Were Destroyed“. She is also incredibly concerned with encouraging healthy and happy purpose driven lifestyles.