It's summer! While a parent's schedule may not look very different during these warmer months, it's the time of carefree exploration, sunshine and wonder for most school-aged kids. However, it can also quickly become a time of boredom and too many hours on screens. Parents can help maintain this balance by outlining healthy expectations and perhaps setting the stage for a few fun traditions or activities throughout the summer. Here are a few ideas.
1. Take a hike — Many communities have hikes or forested areas that allow for time to walk and to be in nature. It has been shown that spending time in nature promotes creativity, feelings of calm and contentment and the ability to shore more concentration and focus. Plus, the benefits of physical activity are huge. A body is meant to be moved, especially during years of growth.
2. Play outdoor games — Several games can be played outside such as croquet, touch football, tennis, pickleball, frisbee, and tag. Setting a goal to play an outdoor family game once or twice a week can go a long way to instilling healthy habits of social and active fun.
3. Create in the kitchen — Trying new recipes is not only a great way to broaden your eating horizons but to also help teach your kids some skills in the kitchen. What about homemade pizza? Learning to bake bread? How about homemade brownies (not from a boxed mix?)
4. Vist the state or county fair – In the early days of the settlement of the west, the state and county fairs were a big deal! This was a place where neighbors and friends connected and socialized, hard work was rewarded with ribbons for livestock, handmade goods or products and attendees experienced the novel and new. In short, it was an event not to be missed! Most communities have a state or county fair (or both!) Check your schedule to visit and experience all there is to see and do! While there, check out 4-H programs that might interest your child.
5. Look to the stars — The night sky is a wonder! And, taking time to search for constellations is absolutely free! There are many apps you can download that act as guides to the night sky or you can invest in a printed guide or book. Laying in the backyard looking up toward the heavens is an experience that will stick with your kids long into their adult years.
Summer is meant to be a time for relaxing and enjoyment, but it can also be a time for growth and new experiences! Spending time outside is a fresh reprieve from the hours spent inside during the school year. Consider these fun options to freshen up your summer family time.