Parent to Parent: A List For Planning Summer Family Fun Activities
Hard as it is for me to imagine, there are parents out there that are dreading the end of the school year. I share their belief that a houseful of kids with nothing but free time is a recipe for disaster. Throw in a busy parent’s work schedule, and you have supervision issues, particularly with the pre-teen set who think they’re too old for day care or babysitters.
You need a plan. And not just a “who’s watching the kids” plan, but a “what are they doing all summer” plan. I’m not saying you should plan their every waking moment, but neither should you leave them to sit in front of the TV or video games all day, every day. Now’s the time, while they’re still in school, for you to make your lists.
1. The I’m Bored list. This should be a list of chores that can be done quickly and easily. To be used whenever one utters that awful phrase. Oh, and Mom or Dad picks out the choicest ones for multiple offenses. You want to motivate them to pick from the next list on their own. You also want your bathroom cleaned for you, don’t you?
2. The Before I’m Bored list. This will be a list of simple activities that they can initiate on their own, either inside or preferably outside. Be specific, things like hopscotch, relay race, water balloon war, etc. Do not put “Read a Book” on this list. (That’s a whole list unto itself).
3. The What We’re Reading list. This list does not have to include anything on the school’s suggested summer reading list. It can, but it may be better if it doesn’t. You know your children best, so include what they may actually WANT to read, not what you or their teachers want them to read. If they are avid comic book readers, make sure to include some of the latest crop of graphic novels. Make sure you put some selections for yourself on the list, and check them off as you read them. Then have a goal at the bottom for the entire family to achieve together, and maybe a reward like a family pizza/arcade night for motivation. Leave room to add more, and post prominently. Making it look like a family activity instead of the school reading list = way more fun.
4. Summer Holidays list. Mark on the family calendar certain days as holidays. Make up your own, making them silly (Backwards Day), or fun (Carnival Day), or a special day-trip (Zoo Day or Beach Day). You can make them family only, or invite the entire neighborhood to your homemade Watermelon Fest. Have the kids work on preparations for days in advance, and they may never get to the Before I’m Bored list.
With little more than basic guidelines or ideas, your kids can dream up the best summer vacation ever. And you won’t have to send them away to camp for the whole summer. You can enjoy having them around this summer, and maybe even dread the start of the school year next fall! Have a great summer vacation!
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