Sunday, May 17, 2015

Home-Centered Summer Activities

Ahhh, summer time! Warm sunny days…drinking iced tea…family vacations…what’s not to like? But perhaps that’s not your vision of summer at all. Maybe your family summer means bored, grumpy children. Maybe it means thousands of extra activities. Maybe it means an exhausting family vacation from which you have to take another vacation to recover! If any of these visions match your family, read on!

Summer is the perfect time to focus on family-centered activities that you might not have time for during the regular school year. Without the distraction of academics, you can work on craft projects, home businesses, and fun activities. It’s a great time to teach some special skills to your children as well as build some memories for a lifetime. Here are some ideas and tips to consider.

Take control of your schedule now. It’s too easy in the summer to think, “Oh, school’s out so of course we have time for that activity!” Next thing you know, your family is over-committed and exhausted. Don’t let that happen this summer. Make a calendar, decide how many outside activities you will do and stick to it. Schedule in days that are free of outside activities. Plan not only your vacation(s), but also plan in days before and after to pack up and recover. This will allow you more freedom to consider some of the family-building activities below.

Try a home business. What better way to teach your children skills like balancing a bank account, maintaining a schedule, working on a budget, and customer service skills? The possibilities are endless, as you consider what would work best for your family. There are businesses that even small children can help with and businesses that require a high school student’s abilities. Dog sitting, yard work, baking, and music teaching are easy businesses to start. If you prefer something more in-depth, you can try a multi-level marketing company such as Pampered Chef or Mary Kay products. Look at what your child’s interests and abilities are and help him or her come up with a way to market those skills.

Read aloud together. Some of my best childhood memories are centered around our family’s read-aloud times. Studies show that parents who read aloud to their children help develop their children’s reading skills. And when your children get to read aloud to you, they can be motivated to become better readers. Let each person pick a book to read aloud and take turns. This isn’t a time for criticism (other than maybe occasional help in pronouncing a word), but rather just for fun. Help your children associate reading with fun family time. It may be too hard for the people not reading to sit still, so come up with some quiet handwork to be done during the read-aloud time – puzzles, sewing, crocheting, drawing, wood carving, legos, tinker toys, etc.

Check out some nearby educational sites. Rather than waiting for someone to organize a field trip during the school year, take your kids this summer! Museums, battlefields, zoos, nature trails, you name it. Pack a picnic lunch if you want to save some money and eat at a nearby park. When you visit these places as a family rather than in a big group, you have the opportunity to go more slowly and focus on what your children are interested in.

Learn a new skill as a family. Take lessons together and encourage each other as you learn. This could be anything from sewing to singing to rocket-building! Get books on the subject, read about it online, go to some classes. Let your children see that you’re interested in learning too, and they will be encouraged to learn more themselves. And who knows, this could be the start of a new favorite activity. (This is how my sister and I wound up becoming professional harpists, by the way!)

Complete a big home project. Clean out the garage. Paint the living room. Plant a garden. Remodel a bathroom. Get your kids involved in these activities. Someday they will own their own homes and these skills will come in handy. Teach them how to clean properly, how to remodel, how to build, how to garden – basically, teach them good stewardship of property. They may or may not enjoy these “chores” now, but will thank you some day when they have their own homes to maintain.

Let this be a summer of fun and productive family time. I hope you enjoy your summer! 

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