Summer Family Fun
by Linda Gilden
Just the word “summer” sends fear into the hearts of some moms and dads. School’s out and that leaves an entire 24/7 for the children to be supervised and entertained.
But why not have a different perspective? Summer gives parents an opportunity to do fun things with their children while building relationships. So plan some family outings and activities that will be fun and contain some team-building skills. And, the good news, the activities need not be expensive.
Eating is part of every day. So why not make summer mealtime special and different.
- Take a blanket out in the backyard and have a picnic. Whatever you have planned for supper will work just fine. Or pick something up on the way home from work as a special treat. Be prepared to guide the conversation to the joy of eating outside.
- Let the children take turns acting as the sous chef. Involve them in meal planning, shopping, as well as cooking.
- Pull out the ice cream churn for a special treat. Rotate making everyone’s favorite flavors. Try new recipes with fresh, summer fruits.
- If you are one of those people who loves a crowd, organize a block party. Delegate responsibilities such as food, entertainment, set up and clean up, etc.
- Buy a box of doughnuts. (Gluten free works here, too.) Tie a string through the hole and hang them from a hook outside. Have the children put their hands behind their backs to eat their doughnuts.
- Check national parks. Many offer free admission on special days.
- Some communities offer concerts in city parks. Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy the music.
- Churches offer Vacation Bible Schools for all ages. These are free, involve multiple activities indoors and out, and have the tremendous benefit of building your children’s faith as they play.
- Sports camps abound during the summer months. Look for church-sponsored options that are often more affordable.
- Turn out the lights and have a shadow puppet show. Or create shadows and make a game out of identifying them.
Don’t have any extra funds to spend on recreation? Here are a few more suggestions.
- Use sidewalk chalk to have your own original art show on the driveway.
- Summer reading programs are often free and offer prizes for reading books. Check with your local Christian bookstore. Encourage your child to read on the porch, in a swing, or relaxed in a hammock.
- Search the internet for free ebooks for children. You will be surprised at how many you find.
- “Paint” the patio. Give each child a bucket of water and a sponge brush and let him or her draw pictures on the patio. Almost no clean up for hours of fun. If your patio is really bad, give older children the pressure washer to “draw” with. You will end up with a looking-like-new patio and your child will have had fun, too. Just remember to check when you hear the pressure washer turn off. Make sure the drawings were totally “erased” and didn’t leave streaks!
- Get out the lawn sprinklers for a fun family romp. Use the hose for a game of jump rope. Or create a limbo challenge with the water.
- Visit a local farmer’s market. Talk with some of the farmers about their growing process. Find out what “crops” could easily make up a backyard garden. Stop and buy a few seeds on the way home and plant them in your backyard. Be sure to find out the growing season. Plant something you can harvest before school starts again.
Summer is a great time to reach out to others. Incorporate community service into your summer by reaching out to those you don’t know.
- Have a backyard cookout for friends you have not seen in the last few months. Summer schedules are sometimes a bit more relaxed and the days are longer.
- Visit a local nursing home. Make arrangements to take the family dog and allow the residents plenty of time to pet him or her.
- Volunteer at a church, park, community center or event.
- Interview an older person about the “good old days.” Write a story about what you learn.
- Organize a neighborhood campout in your backyard. Invite those who play to bring instruments and sing around the campfire.
The ideas for summer fun are endless. If you don’t see something you like on the list above, be creative. Find new fun ways to spend time with your family and friends this summer.
Linda Gilden is an author, speaker, editor, and writing coach. She is the author of the popular Love Notes series encouraging you to encourage those you love. Her newest book, Words to Live By, will be released in July. Linda lives in SC with her husband, three adult children, and the six cutest grandchildren in the world!
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