It’s Summer Vacation!
Now what do I do with my kids?

Saying goodbye to the school year is a bittersweet deal for most moms I know. We’re all ready for a break in the routine, a chance to go on adventures, to have more time to play and fewer battles over bedtimes. It doesn’t matter if you stay home full time, work part-time, or work full-time – its still a juggling act, just a different one. As I write this, I’m staring down one more day of my kids being in school.  And I’m in semi-panic mode. I love this time of year but let’s be serious, it’s not for the weak. You have to gear up for it.

A few summers ago I put together a list of activities/events so I didn’t have to recreate the process each year.  In case you’re looking for things to add to your schedule, I’ve listed some below…I know I love hearing ideas from other moms on new things to try.

Make a To Do list. Add all the things you and your kids want to do for the summer. Make it fun and colorful and hang it where everyone can see it. These are helpful on days when they have a lot of energy and you’re out of ideas.

Summer camps - I usually start with special interest camps such as Girl Scouts, Robotics, Lego, etc. The list includes Parks and Recreation programs, schools, public libraries, children’s theatres, even the Animal Humane Society for budding animal lovers.  These are usually one week long, so it’s good to choose these first when your schedule is more flexible. 

Reading! Raised by a librarian, there’s a lot of reading happening at our house. In addition to reading together at home, reading programs are a great way to encourage your kids to continue reading over the summer so they don’t lose the progress they made in school.

  • Most public libraries have a summer reading program for a variety of ages. We’re also fans of the Barnes and Nobles program, where kids can earn a free book after reading/telling a favorite part from 8 books.
  • The more creative the event, the more interest you’ll get. Our Parks and Rec does “pop up libraries” weekly in a variety of playgrounds around the area…they show up with a big box of books and a craft for kids to enjoy. Take turns doing this with a group of moms if you don’t have one near you.
  • Find or create your own Picture Walk. Pages of a favorite book are removed, laminated and posted along a path so you read as you wander. Our library does this along the path that leads from their doors to the Farmer’s Market.  Easy to create your own!
  • Weekly story times at the library and Pottery Barn kids have been on our list for a long time. Check out local bookstores for times/ages as well.
  • We’re creating a Free Lending Library that we’ll have in our yard – we’ll fill it with some of our favorite books and then other kids can donate a book and take a book. It’s a great way to share books among the kids in your neighborhood. Throw in a few for the other moms as well. You can purchase kits for these, salvage something you own, (I saw a bread box version on Pinterest), or find plans online to build one. (Or hire your brother-in-law to build it for you.)
  • Check with a nursing home and/or assisted living facility about coming in and reading to the resident’s…great practice for your little readers with very grateful listeners.

Playgrounds - our goal is to pick an open morning and go to a different playground each week.

Beach, pool, splash pads – we’ll try to get to one of these each week.  

Visit the Zoo

Lemonade stand - include fresh cookies. (Ok to cheat and buy the dough)

Local and State Fairs

City celebrations – we especially like those that include a parade! Check out towns around you as well…our favorite is a Raspberry Festival.

Children’s Theatre events

Children’s Museums events

Food trucks – track down a favorite for a meal or treat outside.

Get physical! Play games, run races, ride your bikes, go for walks…keep ‘em moving. We got hooked on kayaking last summer – my daughter and I in one, my son in another…at 9 1/2, he was able to handle it well, which surprised me. We’d go around our favorite lake from the boat launch to the beach, play a bit, and then head back to the launch. By the end of last summer, it was getting awkward for me to paddle with both of us in the kayak because my daughter had grown so much…and she moves around a lot. This summer our plan is that I’ll tow her behind me in her large inflated pink flamingo. Should be interesting. If nothing else, we’ll entertain the families that live around the lake.

Don’t forget quiet time! Summer vacation is a lot of together time and we all need a break. Try not to overbook your days. And make sure everyone has 30 minutes or so (depending on ages) in their room or another space by themselves to just play or read quietly, to catch their breath from all the stimulation. And for you to catch your breath also!

Here’s to a wonderful summer vacation full of giggles and new memories!




June 15, 2019 — Diane Janowak

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