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“Summer is the perfect time to reset and recharge” -unknown.

I recently wrote a blog on this subject. A friend liked the first one and wanted more ideas on getting through the summer. Since I was doing some research for her, I thought I would share them with all of you.

Summer is a double-edged sword. For some, it is a time to reset; for others, it becomes a time of more stress; and for most, it is a time of both reset and stress.

For most school-aged children, it is a time of renewal before another school year starts. During the summer, children look forward to sleeping in, having no homework, having more time on electronics/social media, going on vacations, and spending time with friends.

For many parents, it is not a time of renewal; it is a time of added stress. How do you entertain the children? The parent may have started planning vacation months ahead; now it is time to execute it.

While you are home, what kinds of activities could you organize?

Nature Activities for Kids

Take advantage of long sunny days by exploring the natural world (just don't forget the sunscreen).

  • Go bird watching. Take photos and keep track of your sightings. Use an app or guidebook to identify feathered friends.

  • Grow fresh herbs in containers. Use old coffee cans, milk jugs, mason jars, plastic cups, or anything else you have around the house. Keep your herb garden on a patio or windowsill.

  • Look for shapes in the clouds. Put a blanket in the grass and stare up at the sky. Take turns talking about what you see in the clouds.

  • Make fairy houses. Use moss, bark, and leaves to create a dwelling fit for Thumbelina.

  • Pick your own plants. Find a farm with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, vegetables, and flowers, and get picked.

Local Sites for Families to Visit

Summer is ideal for a few staycation experiences. If you have friends or family visiting, bring them along to see what's special in your area.

  • Eat at the counter of a diner. Let the kids enjoy fried food and milkshakes.

  • Find a free concert near you. Kick back and enjoy some tunes with the family.

  • Go to a demolition derby. Expect to see some major crashes.

  • Go to a flea market or garage sale. See if the kids are better negotiators than you.

  • Go to a local carnival or county fair. Eat cotton candy, elephant ears, or something really sugary at least once this summer.

  • Pack a picnic. Plop down to eat it just about anywhere, such as a free concert, playground, or state park.

  • See a dramatic performance together. It doesn't matter if it's a puppet show in the park or a touring Broadway show; enjoy seeing it as a family.

  • See a matinee. Find a bargain movie house and enjoy an afternoon at the movies.

  • Take a garden gnome with you. Take the gnome's picture at each destination you visit. At the end of the summer, create a scrapbook with his photos.

  • Take a road trip to a nearby city. Spend the night if you can, or just make it a day trip exploring the sights.

Activities for Kids that Exercise Their Brains

Avoid the summer slide by keeping kids thinking and learning while school is out.

  • Get a book of riddles. See if you can stump each other, then write your own riddles.

  • Have a puzzle race. Use 100-piece puzzles and see who finishes first.

  • Interview an older relative. Write out your family history.

  • Join a summer reading club at your library. Or create your own, keeping a list of all the books read over the summer. Parents can participate too.

  • Master a new skill together. Learn to juggle, play the harmonica, or sew.

  • Read a chapter book aloud. Plan to read a chapter or more a night. You can even read a whole series together.

  • Write and illustrate a comic book. Make it a group effort, or let everyone do their own.

Artsy Activities for Kids

Get out those craft kits you've been saving, or try one of these artsy activities.

  • Collect rocks and paint them. Turn them into pet rocks, garden ornaments, or gifts for family members.

  • Create a summer mural. Stretch a long piece of white craft paper across a wall in the basement or garage and create a family mural. Include hand-drawn, painted, or colored pictures of your summer activities. Work on it all summer, adding to it little by little. Hold an "unveiling" party for relatives at the end of the summer.

  • Decorate your walkways with chalk. Use regular sidewalk chalk or make your own using cornstarch, water, and food coloring.

  • Keep a summer sketch diary. Take turns sharing your sketches at the end of the summer.

  • Hold a photoshoot. Plan different outfits and poses and take pictures outside or around town. Older kids and teens can then edit the photos on a computer.

  • Make music. Make your own instruments or play traditional ones. Record your musical creations if you want.

  • Make playdough creations. Make your own playdough to mold into creative shapes. Then rip them up and do it again.

Nighttime Summer Family Fun

Arm yourself with bug spray, and you're ready for an evening in the night air.

  • Camp in the backyard. Pitch a tent and bring out the sleeping bags. Sleep as a family under the stars.

  • Catch lightning bugs. And then watch them flicker away into the night.

  • Have a bonfire: roast marshmallows and hot dogs and make s'mores.

  • Host an outdoor movie night. Rent or borrow a movie projector and show a movie on a white sheet draped across PVC pipe in the backyard. Or, use the side of your house as the screen. Bring sleeping bags, air mattresses, and pool rafts out as the seating and enjoy the show (with popcorn, of course).

  • Listen to an audiobook. Your library probably has a great collection of classics and newer titles.

  • Stargaze. Invite friends and make a party of it.

Parents have many responsibilities, and finding time to do creative things is hard. I encourage you to make time to have fun with your children. It might surprise you that our youth can enjoy something other than electronics!!

As a parent, give yourself a break and find a way to enjoy summer vacation.

Have a great summer!!

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