It is that time of year again. Summer is here! It often strikes dread in the hearts of parents. However, we can enjoy our summers. We can keep it simple and fun.
So don’t despair, get out the sunscreen, your lawn furniture and grill and enjoy your summer.
Here are 8 super simple ways that you can do that:
Maintain a light schedule:
Summertime lends itself to spontaneity and it is tempting to just go with the flow. Unfortunately, it usually backfires. We all do better if we have some sort of structure built in.
Having an idea of what you are doing each day of the week can help keep just enough routine to your days. Be flexible about mealtimes and bedtimes, but still have mealtimes and bedtimes.
Have fun at home:
There are so many simple things that you can do at home. A picnic in your yard, blowing bubbles, running through the sprinkler, making popsicles, catching fireflies and painting rocks. Have a campfire in your backyard and make s’mores. Look for shapes in the clouds, watch the bugs, and if you are in the country, look for lizards and frogs. Most of our best memories are of stuff like this.
Go on simple outings:
Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the best. We often drive ourselves crazy, spending lots of money and time planning activities for our kids. I would venture to say that the less effort we need to expend, the happier we will all be.
Take your kids to your city’s parks, museums and playgrounds, pet stores, zoos and local farms can be just as fun.
Have an old-fashioned day:
We are often so busy during the year it would be great if we could make downtime our number one priority in the summer. Try to schedule in an old-fashioned day. Sleep in a bit, read books and make pancakes for breakfast. Make sure to turn off the electronics (that includes the parents’ devices). Don’t forget to get outside. Play old-fashioned games like tag, kickball and good old baseball.
The research is clear. Modern kids are not getting enough playtime outside. They are nature-deprived. Time in nature helps kids focus, improves attention skills, and breeds calm. See above and below for some great ideas on what you can do outside.
To help get my kids outside, we started having dinner al fresco. When, I originally instituted this idea, I got a lot of flak from my family. But now they love it. Mostly because the cleanup is minimal (you don’t have to sweep the patio, the birds and squirrels eat the crumbs.) There were also a lot of impromptu ball games right afterwards. We try to barbecue as much as possible, so that there aren’t any pots waiting to be washed. I saved a whole lot of time and energy by moving our meal times outdoors.
Do something new:
Studies have shown that life is more exciting when we keep on learning. New experiences add vitality to our lives. Again, this does not mean that we need to do something out of the ordinary. Learning to cook a new dish, or for kids to learn to cook for the first time, can be extremely rewarding. Reading new books, visiting a new park, learning to roller skate or skateboard can be the next new thing that you are looking for.
Plan for the fighting:
Summer lends itself to lots of family time. That usually means, for better or worse, lots of sibling squabbles.
Raise the issue with your kids and ask for solutions: “Ok guys, when we spend a lot of time together, we often end up fighting. Any ideas on how we can keep the peace?”
When kids fight you can reiterate this idea, “I know, I know, it’s a lot of family time. It’s sometimes worse in the summer when we are hot and tired. We can get on each other’s nerves a little bit more than usual. What can we do to help you manage?”
Acknowledging children’s difficult feelings may not stop the fighting, but it can do a lot to reduce it.
There you have it! You can now enjoy your summer simply and easily.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.