As a parent, one thing I always tried to do when my kids were young was to create a sense of wonder and magic in their lives, so I rarely heard them say, “I’m bored!” Summer is the perfect season to make fun childhood memories. My mom was a master at creating memories for my sister and me. Thinking about why my summers as a kid were so special, I have renewed admiration for what my mother put into planning our summers.
She was a BO (Born Organized). She always had a daily agenda for the summer months and it included household chores first and then fun. Attention moms, use fun activities you plan as a reward for getting the mundane household responsibilities accomplished every day.
We lived in the country on a 20-acre farm, surrounded by other farms which are now lovely subdivisions with fancy-names like Salmon Creek Estates, Crest Ridge Acres and We Are Rich Now Village.
Our farm was a ghost farm, because there were no pigs in the pigsty, no chickens in the coop, no cows or horses in the barn but we had all the buildings to play in. Because I was the oldest (my sister is five years younger) Mom was thrilled that I was so creative. If you want to know how creative, you’ve got to read The Sidetracked Sisters’ Happiness File.
Once our chores were done and that was usually by 10:00 in the morning, my sister and I spent the rest of the summer outdoors, interrupted only by the horn of our 1955 Ford. The beep either meant lunch, or time for the day’s planned activity which is the source of my Young@Heart today.
1. U-Pick . . . Whatever
We were always picking something and we did it together. From wild blackberries that encircled our ghost farm to real produce farms growing blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, vegetables, flowers, etc. you name it, if the farm had a U-Pick sign, we did. And because Mom went with us it was fun. Get involved in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm in your area and have fun playing Little House on the Prairie and enjoying fresh, organic produce. Just Google CSAs in your area and grab a bucket, box or sack.
Hook up the hose and let your kids use their imaginations with a little help from you. Be willing to loan out anything from the kitchen for fun in the mud. Be ready with plenty of towels when the fun is over. Suggest things to do while running through the sprinkler, like the Try to Stay Dry Game. Let them wear their clothes (no bathing suits), get out the umbrellas and see who can stay dry the longest.
There are so many clever sprinkler toys for kids on the market today. Spend some time (as one of your summer activities) shopping for a sprinkler that turns watering into fun.
It’s also fun for kids to shower in the sprinkler. Give them soap and shampoo and let them bathe.
3. Daily Quiet Time
Be sure to insist on rest in the summer. The days are much longer and little bodies need rest breaks. I’m a big believer in afternoon naps and when I take care of young grandchildren I just call it rest time and they invariably fall asleep. Funniest thing. Oh, and moms need naps too. When you make it part of your routine it promotes great sleep habits.
4. Cook Outside
Shish-kabobs make a great meal for kids. Let them skewer vegetables like cherry tomatoes, green peppers and zucchini, and meat, fish or chicken and let them put them on the grill (seven and older) with your assistance. Eat outside as much as possible this summer.
Let the kids invite friends or neighbors over for a game night and pajama party. Sleep outside. Stock the fridge with healthy snacks and let them raid it in the middle of the night. Expect them to giggle and stay up late and let them sleep in. (They’ll probably sleep through breakfast so have lunch ready when they get up.)
6. Shark Tank It
Help the little entrepreneurs in your family to start a business. Lemonade stands work great because they pluck on the heartstrings of adults. We remember selling lemonade and we’re suckers for those adorable attempts at private enterprise.
One woman (I’ll call her Rachel) told me when she was eight-years-old she made a fortune with her lemonade stand. Her childhood family home was on the edge of a golf course and she set up her stand on the 18th hole.
Business got so good she kept raising her price and after a few days ended up selling each glass for $3! It wasn’t until her mother discovered that a large bottle of Vodka was almost empty that her stand came to an end. Questioning her husband and the teenage son, she discovered they didn’t do it. It was Rachel. All Rachel knew at that tender age was that adults liked whatever it was in that bottle and she thought it was worth adding to her recipe and trying it on her adult-golfer clientele.
7. Pack a Picnic
Summer just isn’t summer without picnics. Plan to take a picnic basket whenever you go places like free concerts, state parks or out in your own backyard.
8. Be a Tourist in Your Own Town
It’s amazing to discover what’s right in your own city. Go to a hotel or motel close to you and pick up the pamphlets that are put out for tourists. Pretend you’re tourists and pick things to do throughout the summer.
9. Go to the Fair
County Fairs are part of rural American culture. Kids love the fair, from the animals to the rides to the food. Okay, so do us moms. Take water so you don’t end up slurping down lots of sugar or aspartame.
10. Put on a Play
Collect crazy wigs, costumes, shoes, jewelry and such, not just for Halloween, but for summer. Kids love costumes and it inspires their imaginations. Let them perform. When I was young, since we lived in the country, there were few neighbors, but they came to all my sister’s and my plays. We would spend days getting ready, from making tickets (and selling them) and programs to rehearsing the show, selling popcorn and performing.
No matter what you do with the kids this summer, have fun, laugh and relish this magical time. You can have help from the House Fairy. She helps moms replace stress and friction with joy and peace. The House Fairy video-based program teaches and inspires children to clean their rooms and help with household chores. When the House Fairy speaks, children listen.