A guide to not pulling your hair out and running screaming into the night this summer.
Let’s face it, covid still has us all in its grasp. This last school year has been, well, something out of hell let’s say. At least it was for me. Most of the school year my kid had to do it online, (which he never actually did). Then it was hybrid time, a burst of inconsistency and confusion for my little guy. Then it was full on school, which he had by that time forgotten about and fought me about going. Now, after such a facepalm year, they’re only a couple days left of school for my kiddo and I honestly don’t know if I can handle him coming back right now. I need a break I’ve been doing this since that fateful March in 2020. We all have, and we’ve all been wrung dry.
Fortunately, for a lot of us, covid kept us in our houses alone or with our kids. Bored. Desperate. At the end of our ropes. And this boredom and despair led to the surprising effect of increasing our creativity. We had to find something to do. Some of us started collecting rocks, some of us painted in watercolor, some of us found spiritual strength and were lifted. Others just sat around chewing their nails and twiddling their thumbs. But never fear! I have some great ideas for what to do when the kiddies come home for the summer.
My favorite answer to every complaint of boredom is “well you can clean something or go outside”. Although generic, this answer actually gives kids lots of opportunities to do many different things. First off, I want to talk about debit cards for kids. I just recently got my son a goHenry card. This system allows me to pay him allowance if I want, but more importantly it allows him to earn money for working around the house. And then when he earns enough, he gets to spend his money in a real store and it’s a real debit card! He loves this. It’s his favorite thing since paper now (don’t get me started on paper with him). There are several different apps that are attached to these debit cards that you can choose from. I chose go Henry because it was the cheapest, and it looked like I could use it. So far I’m happy with it. But if you go to the Google Play store and search “debit cards for kids”, you will have lots of results to choose from. This is a great way to teach kids how money works, and how to be responsible with it. It’s a genius idea!
Now let’s talk about going outside. We all think of family outings when we think of summer time. And if you’re lucky enough to live in an area with lots of outdoor activities available, then you shouldn’t run short of any ideas. There’s hiking, camping, playing in the river or the lake, going to city parks, having barbecues, playing with friends in the neighborhood, and urban hiking, which is just as cool as regular hiking because you always see things that you’ve never seen before.
Let’s talk about the value of a nature walk. First of all, it’s something you can do with kids of all ages. All you need is an outdoor area to walk in. So you go around as family, observing nature and gathering a little bit along the way. Fallen leaves, interesting sticks, little flowers that aren’t in a garden, and even real rainwater collected in a jar all make for great crafts at home. So you go around gathering your things, maybe stop for a picnic somewhere, and then go home. When you reach home again, then you can start putting your puzzle pieces together in a collage, or by making cards with it, or by telling stories about the objects and where they might have come from. In the case of water in a jar, you can decorate the jar all nice and pretty, and if you have a little kids you can add some glitter and a lid, you can talk about where water comes from and it’s cycle, or you can pretend it’s magical water that protects them from bad dreams.
A trip to the River or the lake takes more organization. And if you’re lucky enough to have a beach around, then even more fun is headed your way. You can organize these trips and put together a “play basket” that contains sunblock, swimsuits, dry towels, another things you might need beforehand. You can make the planning a whole family affair if you want. Sometimes planning for a thing can be almost as fun as doing that thing.
Summer is the time when parents are busy and children are bored. There’s not a lot we can do about this, but many of us don’t want our kids on electronics inside all day everyday. So we need to plan ahead and brainstorm. Is there any sort of nature reserve where you live? Do you have enough money to go to the zoo or to the local History museum? Are there any community activities planned around these things throughout the summer? Where I live, there’s almost always something going on in the community downtown during the summer time. We plan to go to these things if we have the money for them and if we don’t come up then we can always fall back on the river.
Look at where you live. Look around you, see what there is. Use those local newspaper and the local magazine listings to see what there might be to do. Check your local library for ideas. Visit your local Firehouse, or set up a time for a tour if they do that. Major local emergency workers. Go park hopping, visit every Park in your city if you can and maybe make a list of the ones you like best. You can make bingo cards that you take with you while you do your urban hiking so when you see something you’re expecting to see you can check it off your bingo card and see who wins at the end.
Summer can seem like a long, overbearing wave of heat coming your way, or it can be a time for adventure and fun, even if you don’t have money to spend. It can be what you make it. Until next time,