Summer Entertainment for Your Sanity's Sake

The school year is coming to an end. This is always bittersweet, you know? While I love my kids (duh), I also love the me-time I've discovered when they're in school. But summer is short lived, and weirdly childhood is even shorter, so I've come to embrace summer vacation. Most of the time.

Part of the embracing comes from having a plan. Gone are the days when I said, "Guys, you're home! Now go have fun" because I've found that the kids aren't the best at entertaining themselves after a whole school year's worth of structure. They will, however, sit and watch TV endlessly, or play computer games, or fall to fighting with each other. And this is all within minutes of getting out of their wee kids bed in the morning.

In order to remind myself that I need a plan, I will write it down. This post is really for my benefit, but if you gain from it as well that would be awesome.

Camp is your friend. It's your kids' friend, too. Our church hosts a week of camp for kids of all ages and our kids look forward to going every year. We look forward to it as well. Remembering that we love our kids (duh), it is always nice to be able to do something special with just a few while the others are off having fun. It's almost like a date with your kids. Not only is it important to relationship building, it's fun. You should try it. And it's a win-win because the kid not home is enjoying themselves at camp. If church camp isn't your thing, we have a local Art Center that offers camps all summer ranging from drama to painting to mosaics. While these are day camps, it's still a ton of fun for the kids. Mine are still singing the Herman the Worm song they learned there years ago. And there are always sports camps for those in touch with their inner jock.

We love scouring the newspaper for things to do in summer. The library has a summer reading program that offers snacks and playground time as well as a reading contest. The school offers free lunches throughout summer just for stopping in. (Okay, call us weird, but we go for a free lunch and then hit the community playground. We call it a fun day out and we're all happy. We've also spent zero dollars.) The local state parks offer classes that the kids love. These range from free to inexpensive and the kids learn things like what they can eat from nature, footprint ID, water safety (complete with a day on the lake), and What Scat is That? (I know, but my kids actually find that one the most fun.)

We've also recently discovered the drive-in movies. I wish I'd have known about the wonders of this earlier. While it's not so much in the entertainment department through the day when you need to get some things done, you can use it as a bribe for the kids and this works miracles. "If you're good today and don't fight, we'll go to a movie tonight." And then it's a win-win because since the kids are excited and up late at night they will sleep in the next morning. Except for Micah. He's still up with the sun. Or the roosters. There's a reason we don't' have roosters; I don't take the chance that they might be up before the sun.

And don't underestimate the power of your own back yard. Sprinklers will entertain kids for hours. Hours, people. This is good. Keeping all your kids fully clothed will be the only hassle you'll get from this. And I can speak from experience that if you set up a Kiddie Pool, kids of all ages are in it. Okay, not the teenager. But from those below teen years are game to wet their ankles. Water is a winner. Always. Sidewalk chalk is a close second to water. Murals of all shapes and sizes are drawn because they can then break out the hose and wash it off. That is the best part to my kids. I generally save the chalk for days when my patio needs cleaned. I'm not stupid. Also? Bubbles. Again with the ageless thing. A small bottle of bubbles can lose it's fun-factor with the bigger kids, but break out an over sized wand and suddenly they're all wondering why they don't have their own.

Get creative in the kitchen as well. Pudding pops (frozen pudding on a stick) is a rare treat (because you've don't want the kids to get bored with them), Chex mixes, homemade slushes and smoothies (because they're cold) and of course s'mores. Wait, did I forget to mention the evenings sitting around the fire pit? Yeh, those are awesome.

I'm really looking forward to summer break.


(Keri) Auburn Gal Always said...

Great ideas!

We've done the local library reading programs for a couple of years now and have enjoyed it AND seen serious benefits from it with Sissy's reading skills.

We're going to explore our local parks and rivers and canyons and nature stuff over Memorial Day.

NASA's space and rocket center is nearby. My brother is a NASA employee and gets us free passes to the museum and hopefully to the IMAX movie. The space camp there is something we might let Sissy do in a few years.

Soccer camp is already paid and planned.

2 weeks of swimming lessons for both kids too.

I'm considering teaching Sissy to mow the yard too. But she said "yeah, right. Like I'm really gonna mow the lawn for you."

We had intended to plant a vegetable garden, but The Mighty Hunter's work schedule PLUS 3728" of rain prevented us from getting it tilled up and going. So, I'll be going to a local farm and buying some things to freeze.

The thing I'm looking forward to most this summer is being able to sleep in more. WOOHOOOOOOO!!!!

Michelle said...

Oh I LOVE that last picture. It's priceless :) We don't have a fire pit, but ... we may need to go hang out with people who do! Especially now that they've invented that new off product that you clip on.

I'm with you on activities during break, but my parents... want no structure so they can just go "do stuff" with no notice. So far the wee ones are being pulled out of summer camp three days in the six weeks of it for activities with the grandparents. *sigh*

Gina said...

We LOVE the drive-in. Luckily, there are 2 nearby. said...

Oh, I always loved summer when the girls were little. We had so much fun... long lazy days sometimes and fun, energetic ones at other times. We did tons of fun things and the backyard was usually an intricall part of it.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Great photo,

and in this economy of job loss and uncertainty of future income, I'd like to offer you a summer job as Activities Coordinator at my house.

I pay well.

The job may come with a bonus of being able to keep the kids you are working with.

Get back to me, soon, ok?

The Sports Mama said...

The best part about that pic? The metal woman (?) thing in the back holding the bowls! LOVE that!

While I've never sent mine off to a summer camp (unless you count the week-long football camp that Jock has to go to every year to ensure he gets to play on the high school team), it had always been in the back of my mind.

Until this past weekend, when I was watching my teenager, his teenage friend, and three teenage girls in my MIL's pool and had an ... enlightening... conversation with the girls' dad about why he won't allow his girls to EVER go to summer camp because of stories about midnight coed swimming excursions. Ugh.