My kids have been out of school since the end of May but I know many of you are just getting out of school for the summer. It’s already HALF WAY THROUGH JUNE! How does that happen?! I know we have the whole summer left but I already feel like it’s closing in on us! My family tends to stay extremely active during the summer and do a lot of inexpensive road trips and camping which we LOVE. But it also makes me feel rushed through the summer too because it seems like every week I am packing and unpacking and stocking up on picnic lunches and doing piles and piles of laundry. Not to mention that when I look at my calendar my eyes bug out a bit. We love being on the go but there is absolutely a balance that we try to have.
Here are a few important reminders for parents this summer:
1. DON’T plan out the ENTIRE summer. Just don’t do it! (This is the #1 hardest one for us to follow since we like camping!) Leave plenty of time in your summer for your kids to get bored. To play in the sprinklers or tie up water balloons. To paint. To play with their pets or at the playground. To bike around or fish. To sleep in a tent in the backyard or create a master fort. You don’t want to get to the end of the summer and look back and realize you were so busy you don’t feel like you had a summer. It’s OK to have nothing planned! It’s OK not to go to your free community events.
2. It’s OK to send your kids to camp….or not! I know that plans are probably already set in motion for the summer since we’re half way through June but I’ve come across so many parents that have guilt about sending their kids away to camp, or about not sending their kids to camp, about not being able to keep up with schedules for local day camps and not being able to afford camp. There is NO right or wrong way to go about the whole camp thing. It works for some kids and families and for others it doesn’t – don’t feel guilty on either end! Camp can be a great experience for most kids but not every kid does well being away from home. Plus it can also be very expensive so there are a TON of factors that weigh in here. If you are interested in sending your kids to camp consider asking about scholarships. For my kids “big” Christmas present this year I offered my boys both the opportunity to attend camp this year so this week was their first camp experience. I hope we can afford to do it next year but they know it’s pretty expensive and we need to all save for it. No camp shaming allowed!
3. Take time for YOU! Normally when we are approaching the summer all I can think about is how much fun our FAMILY will have doing everything – but you still need a little “me” time. Although I definitely have more “free time” in the summer it’s STILL nice to not spend the summer cleaning up after the kids every second of the day (and by cleaning up I don’t mean doing everything for them!!). It doesn’t have to be anything big or exciting – read a book, go thrift store shopping without the kids, decorate a gallery wall….whatever it looks like to you to relax and do something for yourself!
4. Get MESSY and BE SILLY! My kids have tons of time on their own during the summer because I have to work and my husband has things to prep for the school throughout the summer along with various meetings he has to attend. But we always make sure we plan (I KNOW I KNOW – I JUST told you not to plan everything! But this is different – I swear!) some crazy ridiculously messy fun. I tend to try and use all of my “extra” summer time working online and around the house to make up for the rest of the year but sometimes I need to pause my work and spend a messy silly day with the kids. Try squirt guns filled with paint while wearing white shirts. Use a corner of the yard to fill a mud pit. Cover a slip and slide with paint! Build forts and have a marshmallow fight. Bake a masterpiece cake. Try your hand at creating your own pottery or all art – whatever your kid’s style is.
5. WEAR SUNSCREEN! I wish I could tack a sticky note on everybody’s head on this one – sunscreen is SO important! I was never made to wear sunscreen as a kid and I can tell you I had plenty of sunburns which I never really thought twice about. My sister who is much more fair skinned than I had sun poisoning a few times. My husband and his entire family struggles with melanoma issues thanks to genetics. Please please protect your children and yourself. Wear hats, sunscreen, sunglasses – whatever it takes. Don’t forget the tops of your head, ears, neck and feet! Our family uses Blue Lizard sunscreen which is a little pricier but is one of the highest rated and recommended by hubby’s dermatologist. A tiny bit goes a LONG way so our bottle lasts a lot longer than the cheaper sunscreens too.
6. It’s OK to pack a picnic lunch! Maybe because of where we live (out in the country in the middle of nowhere) we tend to have the mindset that “OH we’ll have to grab a fast food lunch while we’re out” but that’s definitely not true! PACK a lunch and save the money!! Even just a quick lunch can easily easily set our family back $20-$30 no matter how cheap we eat and that really adds up – especially in the summertime when we tend to be out more! Invest in a good cooler – it will save you the money over one summer just by packing your own drinks and food! We have this cooler which fits between our van seats and has MORE than enough room for us to fit both lunch and dinner in for the entire family with drinks!
7. Don’t forget about education! I’m not suggesting sitting your kids in a corner for school lessons every day, but make your summer fun educational. Trips to a museum or the zoo. Launch a rocket. Build a fort. Have family reading nights set aside. Catch bugs and research them. Follow animal tracks and identify them. There are a ZILLION FUN things to do that your kids can still learn from in the summer! If you need help with ideas send me an e-mail and I can create you a whole list!