by Dana Arevalo,
P.O.V. Contributing Writer
This is the first summer ever that I do not have my children in a day camp or an activity. We are only at the beginning of July and they are bored. Not to mention, they are eating me out of house and home. Here I am pondering over what to do with them. While summer is time for them to relax and play, I believe keeping them busy with structured activities is also important; that is why I have always had them in summer camp to remain on a schedule. It's my job now, therefore I have gathered some ideas. If I have to play hide and go seek one more time, I may go bonkers!
1) Assign age appropriate chores. My children are ages nine and 11. It is never too early to teach them responsibility. While some children may already have chores during the year, now is the time to introduce some additional items to keep them busy. My son is responsible for feeding the family dog, keeping his room tidy and taking out the trash and recycling when asked. My daughter helps put the groceries away, empty the dishwasher, put away her clean clothes and keeps her room neat and clean.
2) Breakfast & Lunch. Children are used to eating at the same time daily; continue this as it will be easier to stick to a daily eating schedule. Involve them in meal preparation and ideas. They love to help in the kitchen. It makes them feel happy and special. Maintain a healthy diet and encourage them to drink water so that they remain hydrated.
3) Take weekly trips to the local library. Many times their teachers will assign summer reading. Take them to the library at least once per week. Make it a consistent activity. They will enjoy looking around and choosing other books, magazines or videos that they want to see. It is important to allow them to begin making decisions; it will help them express their own opinions and share their likes and interests with you.
4) Take inexpensive day trips. Conduct an Internet search for local parks, lakes, amusement parks, museums, exhibits and more. Many places have discounted prices for family day or deals such as, buy one adult admission, one child admission free. Some restaurants also offer specified evenings or days that children eat free. Take them out once per week to these establishments.
5) Schedule play-dates or allow their friends to visit. I rarely refer to them as play-dates, anymore, because the reaction I get from my daughter. However, I allow my children to invite friends over. They play inside and out. I allow them to have water balloon fights and just have lots of fun. This will allow you, the parent, to have a little down time.
6) Have a camping trip in your backyard. We did this last summer. I invited my dad over; they loved it. They set up a tent, ate pizza and even had time to roast marshmallows. Create memories that they can appreciate when they grow up.
7) Incorporate daily exercise into their routine. Do you have a family dog? When the family is awake in the morning, take the dog for a walk before the sun gets to hot or in the early evening when the sun begins to set.
I recommend pre-planning activities as much as one can. It is hard to stick to a strict schedule during the summer, however, if you sit down and make a plan you can enjoy a semi-structured week with less stress and boredom. You will have activities planned, happy children and a delighted you. They will begin to look forward to what is in store and everyone will have a joyous and memorable summer.