1. Loosen Up! Summer means changing the rules – stay up later, eat outside, have dessert, forget your shoes, get dirty, stay in your bathing suit (or PJs) all day, take your time to explore and take in all that you miss during the busy school year.
2. Enroll in camp. Your kids may be too young for sleep-away camp, but mini camps – lasting half or whole days for a week at a time – are an ideal opportunity to test drive new activities and sports or improve existing skills. Better yet, they are a place to have fun and make new friends.
3. Get outta town. Change the scenery, even if just for a night. To keep costs low and really change the pace, camp out! Or, if packing up the car seems like a daunting task, pitch a tent in the backyard for a slumber party under the stars.
4. Introduce something new. School year routines don’t often leave time to do the things we wish we could do. Summer clears our plates a bit and presents the perfect chance for you to be “That Mom” – visit a museum, take a mother/child art or yoga class, have a family fiesta night, or read your children a classic book that takes an entire summer to finish.
5. Get moving. Here’s their chance to play hard. Organize a neighborhood kickball game at a nearby park, start an evening bike ride routine, take the long way on your walk home, play chase, skip rope, find a spot to draw a hop-scotch game or start a relay race.
6. Connect with old friends and get to know new ones. Back to school transitions will be easier if there are familiar faces to share the new routine. Take the time to schedule play dates with school friends and host an afternoon at the pool or your place for new friends who will be together in the fall.
7. Celebrate the season. Nothing says summer like stopping for ice cream, catching fireflies, eating a hot dog at the ballgame, watching fireworks on the 4th of July, having a picnic or lying in the grass to look at the stars. Help your kids build happy memories of summertime that will stay with them a lifetime.
8. Keep learning. Teachers say they spend as much as the first three months of school re-teaching the skills kids lost over the summer months. Give your kids a head start by dedicating a few minutes every day to academics. For preschoolers, coloring, cutting and tracing or writing their ABCs goes a long way. For older kids, have them keep a summer journal and pick up a few workbooks to refresh and preview next year. Make it fun by playing school and taking turns being the teacher.
9. Get wet! Whether you live in the city, the country or somewhere in between, find some water! Visit a pool, beach or lake, run wild in a sprinkler, play with a garden hose, host a Barbie pool party or a Matchbox Car wash on the back porch. Recycled squeeze and spray bottles are great for water fights, and also make excellent tools for writing on the sidewalk and watering anything remotely resembling a garden.
10. Give them a break from Mom and Dad by hiring an energetic sitter. Call up the neighborhood sitter or find an experienced college-aged sitter looking for work. Wouldn’t it be fun to catch a movie, meet up with a friend or have a date night with your husband? The kids will welcome the change of company, too!
Tell us: what are some of your favorites from this list? What makes summer awesome for your kids?
Lynn Perkins is the founder of UrbanSitter, a service that enables parents and babysitters to connect online through Facebook and their existing networks.