It was one of those memes that stopped me in my tracks. It said, “You get 18 summers with your kids.”
Yes, summer days when your kids are off any kind of comprehensible schedule when the kitchen is always in a state of dive-diner disrepair, when snacks are consumed at an alarming rate, when simultaneous cries of both boredom and outrage at doing chores ring in stereo, well, summer kind seem endless.
But there comes a day when the sliver of days between one school year to the next is done. Your kids launch, get jobs, and move into #adulting. So what can you do to make the most of the 18 summers you have when your kids are still living under your roof?
It can be complicated, juggling your work schedule with kids put out to wild, released from the predictability of their school schedule. Parents know the struggle of trying to find childcare programs and nannies during the summer months. Hybrid work environments are helping a lot of parents make the most of summers without compromising their career goals. Ideas like nanny-sharing and part-time sitters can also be of help. While there might not be an easy solution, when strategizing how to manage summer months, consider working with your boss (even if that boss is you!) to create margin during the days for building memories with your kids.
You don’t need a huge travel budget or even buckets of creativity to make this summer memorable. All it takes is a little intention, an appreciation of the brevity of the season, and a goal of building some memories. Check out these ideas for making this summer count!
Play Tourist in Your Town: When I travel with my kids, I spend time researching where we’re going and what kind of offerings each new locale has. But have you ever done that for where you live? Sure, there are places I’ve meant to take the kids in our city. But because we live here, it can be all too easy to let other things interfere. Look at your town through the eyes of a tourist. What would you want to see if you were coming to visit? What is your area known for? Then get that museum or park or novelty on the calendar and stick to it.
Don’t Dip on the Day Trip: Sure, it would be great to have the budget and vacation days to take the kids on some kind of amazing European tour. But that’s not the only way to build great summer memories. Set a 90-mile radius from home and take a look at what’s available for a there-and-back day trip. (Here’s some inspiration to get you started.) Maybe there’s a farm that offers berry picking. Or maybe there’s a ranch that has a collection of exotic animals. There can be incredible experiences practically in your backyard that don’t require breaking the bank.
And speaking of backyards…
Going the Extra Mile in Your Yard: It can be all too easy to go to the default mode of letting kids spend a big portion of those precious 18 summers attached to screens. Getting the kids outside and into the yard doesn’t mean that you need an inground pool, complicated playset systems, or every outdoor toy known to man. Make it a family affair to take care of the yard together. Show your kids how to weed the flower bed, water plants, and trim hedges. They’ll love the time with you and the activity. Get a few inexpensive bottles of bubbles. Download the free version of the app Night Sky (or one of these astronomy app options) and head out to the backyard one evening for some star gazing. Paint rocks together on the back porch with bright colors and encouraging words and tuck them into flower beds and medians for neighbors to find. (Check out these 73 ideas for summer backyard activities.)
Teaching Those Life Skills: Advisors at universities have sounded the alarm that many of today’s young people entering higher education have no idea how to do laundry, cook a simple meal, clean a bathroom, or deal with laundry. The summer is an excellent time to make sure you’re getting in that training for your kids. Pick a day of the week when you’ll show them how to do one of these needed skills. Have them practice throughout the summer, and add more training for the next skill as the weeks go by. By the end of 18 summers, your child should be well-equipped to handle basic life chores. Their future roommates and spouse will thank you!
Library Liberties: Of course, you already know it. But it’s worth saying again. The library should be your best friend during your 18 summers with your kids. From weekly read-a-loud activities to instilling a love for all things literary, the library should make it to one of the top slots of your summer activities. Make it a weekly habit to hit up the shelves and bring home the goods. (a href=”https://imaginationsoup.net/free-summer-reading-programs-kids/”>You can also find more national reading programs by clicking here.)
Free to Be!: Boredom isn’t bad. Let’s say it again: boredom isn’t bad. While you do want to make the summer memorable, it doesn’t mean that you are responsible for entertaining your kids every second of every day. Make sure you’re giving your kids margin for creativity, free play, and opportunities to explore.
Calendar It: If you’re not tracking it, you’ll lose count. That’s one of the key things to remember when it comes to making 18 summers count. Set up a schedule for your summer to be intentional to fit in all that you want to do with your kids. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be on purpose. You can make that intentionality simpler by creating a rhythm to the week. For example:
CHURCH AND FAMILY MEAL PREP (LIFE SKILLS)
HOMETOWN TOURIST OUTING
FREE TO BE!
The most important thing you’ll do this summer, regardless of activity, will be the focused time you spend with your kids. Make it simple, make it a priority, and don’t get too caught up in the calendar chaos. Enjoy the time off from school, and when fall rolls around, you and yours will be rested and ready to jump into the next scholastic year. Spend this summer of your 18 summers having fun!