Kids Hogging All the Fun?
By Patti Heremes – Parent to Parent
Day camps, swimming lessons, baseball practice, miniature golf, "family" movies, water park …
The list of summer activities can be endless, as long as the kids are interested. Are you spending your precious free time shuffling your children from one fun summer activity to the next? Can't wait until they go back to school so you can get back to your normal life? Summer is not just for kids, and there are ways for the harried parent to steal back some summer enjoyment.
If you are lucky enough to have your own backyard pool, don't let the extra work of keeping it clean drag you down. As soon as your children are old enough, start shifting over cleaning responsibilities to them. Even if you have to supervise and/or nag them to get it done, it's still easier to watch someone else do the work, especially from a lounge chair.
Ditto on the yard work. Let them choose to either get up early to beat the heat, or try to complete their lawn mowing at dusk in a cloud of mosquitoes. You'll be amazed how many will choose to get up early before the thermometer reaches 90 degrees. It's the least they can do to free up your time for driving them around to all their fun. You can teach practically any child to weed effectively, if that's a hated chore. Personally, that's one of my escapes. I sit and pull dandelions, or deadhead the roses, or just putter around my little vegetable patch, searching for something to harvest. And when the neighborhood noise of weed wackers and loud car stereos starts to intrude, I turn to my trusty playlist on the i-toy music player to shut it all out.
Often I find I'm merely stealing moments of peace in an otherwise hectic day. As the day fills up, just sitting for an hour watching swim lessons seems like a gift. Oh I watch a little bit, but the noise of impatient toddlers and parents on cellphones is drowned out by a podcast I've been meaning to listen to, and the notebook on my lap mysteriously fills up with new article ideas or a quick story. Or I just daydream the hour away, savoring my own piece of the summer sun.
Walking is a great way to enjoy summer. I don't mean the brisk walk-for-exercise, but more of a stroll around the neighborhood, or a hike in the woods. Whether you live in the city, country, or somewhere in between, summer brings something special to the landscape. Instead of concentrating on your speed or distance, really take a good look at your surroundings. This is the kind of walk you can do alone, or with a companion, but don't drag unwilling participants whose only interest is the destination. Same goes for a bike ride – ride to look at the scenery for a change and not to see who can get to the end of the trail first.
Ever gone to the Farmer's Market just to browse? Instead of treating it like a mission, try just savoring the experience, checking out as many vendors as possible, asking questions, and maybe buying something you've never tried before. This type of adventure is best shared with fellow cooks, whether they be adoring spouses or kids just learning their way around the kitchen.
Whether it's catching an outdoor concert in the park, or maybe a local wine-tasting festival, or even an excursion to a nearby city, make sure to squeeze in some adult fun into your summer. Because summer is not just for the kids, so don't let them hog all the fun! Get out there and play a little yourself, because summer doesn't last forever.
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