How-To: Summer Fun with Your Kids
By Andrea Yim
Every year comes around and with each passing year we all look forward to summer break. But looking forward to that summer break comes a huge responsibility for us mommies to keep our children entertained, happy, and without spending too much money or putting them in front of the TV all day! Our list of a fun filled summer may look different than the list of our children. I asked my boys (eight and five years old) what a perfect summer would look like. One said Disneyland and every other amusement park possible in Southern California and the other one said going to the beach, playing with friends, and video games. My version is not spending any money, while learning life skills, exploring the great outdoors, and having family game nights. So, what do you do over a three-month period that satisfies everyone – lists or striving to attain the perfect summer?
Before my kids got out of school I had each week planned out perfectly. Thursdays were library quiet days, Fridays were beach or pool days, Mondays were craft days and so on, and you get the point. I had good intentions being organized and following my list. Well, surprise surprise not one day has looked like my perfect list that was all written on the chalkboard. Should I beat myself up over it? Nah! We have had a very busy fun filled summer and we have just left our schedule open to allow for those “unplanned” days. I’ve learned that big events like going to an amusement park are fun but should be sporadic so that my kids will actually enjoy it and not take those special things for granted.
So with that, I made a point that we would do one or two amusements parks. So we did! We went to Legoland and The Cove Water Park and I spread them out so that the parks were not too close together. I packed snacks and lunch but ended up spending unwanted money on food anyway because of the long day but I did plan for that in the back of my head (smile). We took full advantage of church outreaches such as Vacation Bible School at two different churches. VBS not only taught my boys about Jesus, but it got them out of the house and taught them to be with other kids and adults they didn’t know. They did crafts, got wet, sang worship songs, and had Bible stories read to them – all for free! I also sent them to Karate camp that was three- days filled with self defense and the boys could get their energy out.
My outlook on summer is to get your children involved in activities that require them to learn life skills and being able to meet new children in the community as it develops good social skills. So, those were the big events that took place over the summer as well as taking advantage of free community activities. Keep in mind, some are not free, so weigh out what is beneficial and what is not. Now, what about every other day? Well, we have had lots of park days, finding someone with a swimming pool, visiting farms in the area, taking walks in the neighborhood, riding bikes, building tents, playing with legos, and of course leaving days for Mommy to clean so we turn on the video games (don’t feel guilty!) and have Netflix playing some days for a few hours.
Summer can be dreadful because of the burden to feel as though we need to be doing something everyday. You don’t! Everyone’s lives, and bank accounts look different so do what you can and what your family would like to do. But we all have one thing in common, trying to keep our kids busy. Getting involved in church or the city’s free movie nights (parent approved) can be just as fun as going to Disneyland. If you just have a big smile on your face, the key to a great summer isn’t necessarily “doing” something. It’s ENJOYING it with your babies.
God has given us our children to enjoy and although it can be tiring at times, it’s the walks and talks down your street that your children love and remember. Giving them what they need the most is your undivided attention and love! Looking at them in the eyes when they show you what they drew or built and maybe even helping them and encouraging them makes the day good. In my eyes, the key to a great summer is just enjoying your children. Yes, making it fun by “doing” but also playing a nerf gun fight at home, or letting your child play with your hair as if she were a hair stylist. It’s not being on your phone all day but making sure not only do they see your love, but in our media driven world, remembering how much YOU love. Enjoy them just by putting your phone down, waiting to do the dishes, and setting aside “the perfect summer” expectations to have a joyful summer with your family. Don’t forget to laugh at the unplanned but also enjoy what is planned.