My friend is a teacher and one of her first writing assignments of the year to her students is to write about their favorite summer memory. Every year there are a number of students who answer with, “We didn’t do anything this summer. My mom was busy so we just watched tv all day.” I don’t want to be that mom. I will admit, I have gotten distracted and let my summer with my kids fly by in the past. But I don’t want my kids to be a part of that statistic anymore. So, this year I vowed to change how my family does summer.
I’m going to intentionally savor every moment with my kids. Instead of fretting about perfection, I’m going to focus on just a few ways to make fun, and realistic, summer memories. Here are the 4 memories my kids will have this summer.
1. Memories of a joyful mom
At some point, the sight of our kids chilling out in their pajamas until 2 p.m. every afternoon will drive us crazy. Sure, a few days of intense summer relaxation are fine. But to avoid “angry mom summer memories” and create joyful mom memories instead, tell your kids that after their initial decompression, you expect them to be productive at least part of the day. (You can start with these four life skills you can teach your kids over the summer.)
Spell out your expectations so you don’t blow up when you’ve reached your limit. Then, entice them into action with these 50 ideas for summer fun.
2. Memories of the great outdoors
Summer weather can be extremely hot where I live. Unless you’re swimming or have the air conditioner cranked up, it’s pretty uncomfortable. The temptation is for kids to stay inside glued to a screen.
Even if it’s not 100 degrees in the shade where you live, get out of your house as often as you can. Take short day trips. Plan an inexpensive road trip by staying with family or friends. Closer to home, take in a movie, visit (free) museums, or get outside—in the shade. If the weather is pleasant where you live, tell your kids, “When the sun is out, we are too.”
3. Memories of thinking of others
Sometimes, the quest for fun summer memories can get off track if we make it our goal to fill our children’s summers with nothing but fabulous trips, amusement parks, and time at the mall with friends. Sure, they’ll have good memories, but they could have so much more.
The summer is a perfect time for our children to volunteer. Your little kids can go with you when you read at summer schools for underprivileged children. Older kids can take part in local mission trips around your city or work at a part-time job to have money to donate. All kids can help out neighbors or grandparents.
4. Memories of discovery
My husband has told me that his childhood summers were one long stretch of boredom. In those pre-Internet days, he and his brother watched a lot of the Spiderman cartoon, argued through games of Parcheesi, and accidentally caught the pasture behind their house on fire. (I guess it wasn’t boring when the fire department showed up.)
We don’t have to entertain our children every summer second, but if kids have options for discovery—reading a great book, learning a craft or how to build something, playing a summer sport—they will make some pretty good memories. And by all means, if your kids are old enough, get them to help out around the house or get a job. Make summer memories you’ll want your children to remember.
Tell us! What are your ideas for making good summer memories?