So, school is out. Now what?!
Without their regular routine, kids get bored. Bored kids are crabby kids. Crabby kids make their parents crabby. Don’t be crabby this summer! Try some fresh ideas to keep everyone happy.
1. Splash Parks
A public pool experience has many benefits: your kids are occupied for hours, it wears them out, they make new friends, and you get some chill time. Or do you?
Going to the pool can be a huge commitment. First you’re finding a swim suit that fits, then lathering every exposed inch of skin in sun screen, packing snacks and drinks and towels and dry clothes and toys, and making sure you know where your keys and wallet are in the pool bag. Once you get to the pool and dish out the money for tickets, you’re too busy watching to make sure your kids are safe, re-lathering sunscreen, and wondering if all the chlorine really does kill the pee germs to sit and relax.
Enter the splendid alternative of splash parks. Splash parks are increasing in popularity, especially in larger cities. They’re basically a glorified sprinkler: a concrete slab with various hoses, towers, squirt guns, and other water activities for your kids to enjoy. They’re usually located in a park with a playground, which makes this option even better. Your kids get hot and sweaty while playing on the playground and can then run through the splash park to cool off (while still wearing regular clothes!). While splash parks may not solve all the inconveniences of the public pool (you don’t want to skip the sunscreen!), you get many of the benefits of a pool without having to pay the price—literally, because they’re free!
2. One-On-One Dates
Regular dates with your significant other pulls you out of the rat race of jobs and life, let’s you catch up on important (and trivial) details, and strengthens your relationship. Why not apply the same idea to your kids?
Set some boundaries (the theme park is probably not an option), but let your child pick a place they’d like to go with you. Try to encourage choices that maximize your interaction time, like going to a restaurant or ice cream, the science museum, or a baseball game. While not altogether bad choices, activities like going to the movies don’t allow much opportunity to connect with your child.
Ask questions and get to know them! They just finished a whole school year where there might not have been much down time to connect. They’ve grown since last summer. They have new interests, new friends, new dreams and fears. Most importantly, put down the phone (if your child is old enough to have one, this applies to him too!) and be fully attentive.
3. Find a Summer Program
Provide your kids with a little bit of structure by enlisting them in a summer program. This way, there’s a good balance between predictability and flexibility in their schedule. Plus, everyone gets a little bit of a break from each other!
- Libraries: almost every library has summer programs to keep kids learning. And often, they come with prizes to keep your kids motivated!
- VBS: many churches have Vacation Bible Schools where your kids have fun learning about the Bible through activities, crafts, a lesson, and a snack. Have your kids invite their friends for even more fun!
- YMCA: your local Y offers lots of options for summer programs, including sports and day camps.
- Specialized camps: camps for academics, sports, arts, and more are a great way to build confidence, passion, and friendships in their area of interest.
Don’t be Crabby… Enjoy Your Summer!
Your kids are only this age once, so celebrate who they are as individuals. It’s often not the big things that make the lasting impacts on our kids, but the little things. Spend time with them, encourage their curiosity, show them you care, and give them space to be active.