The 2016/17 school year has come and gone, and with its end begins the 71 days (that’s 2 months and 10 days) of glorious summer vacation! Yes, I did say glorious there, didn’t I? You might have to reevaluate that adjective by the time August rolls around, unless you do a little work now to plan out your kids’ summer days at home so that the days only feel carefree.
Hold a family meeting to make your plans together so everyone feels heard and included. You can have each person jot down ideas and ambitions, then you can discuss each one and formulate a plan to implement what is feasible with your schedule and finances. Take a look at the Family Calendar and highlight what interests you and the kids. Events are updated and added daily online as well. Pull up siparent.com/events anytime you need an idea. You’re welcome!
Summer doesn’t have to be a continuous playtime. Balance the time to incorporate what you feel needs to be done along with what you would like to do. You will be using this to teach your children that life is like that: a good balance of fun and responsibilities.
If a project you want to accomplish is too large for just one day; spread it out over a period of time so the kids are not overwhelmed.
Tackle the Mountain of Paperwork. Starting with the school backpacks and the endless piles of papers brought home, sort and discard what you don’t need. For artwork and craft projects, perhaps you don’t need to keep all the originals. Take photos, upload to a photo website and make an album as a keepsake for each school year.
Plan a Garage/Yard Sale. Sort through toys, clothes, books, and any other items you and your children outgrew or no longer use. Don’t forget the garage and backyard. Get the kids motivated by offering to use the money you make from the sale for a special fun daycation. Once you have a good amount of items put aside, have the kids make signs to hang around the neighborhood. (Remember to take them down when the event is over.)
Tips for a Successful Yard Sale
Plan your sale carefully. Most people host their yard sales on Friday, Saturday or Sunday mornings, theorizing that this is when the most people will be free to browse their wares. Early morning sales attract more shoppers because they don’t interfere with their plans for the day.
Arrange items for sale into categories and pay attention to presentation. You may generate more sales if browsing is made easy. Put the items you expect to draw the most attention closer to the street to entice passers-by.
A neat and inviting appearance also conveys that you’ve taken care of your home and your belongings. Play some music and offer light refreshments to create a convivial atmosphere.
Price things reasonably and be open to negotiation, but try to haggle with a “buy one get one” approach rather than marking down the price considerably. After all, the goal is to get rid of as many items as possible, with financial gain a distant second.
If a garage sale isn’t your thing, or if there are items left that did not sell, donate them to one of the many reputable organizations. You can call to schedule a pick up. If you are dropping items off, bring the kids along for the experience. Save those receipts for tax time!
Out in the Yard. If the weather is nice, spend the day outdoors planting vegetables, flowers, herbs, or fruits and watch them grow all summer long. The kids will get a kick out of choosing what to plant, and it’ll give them more of an interest in eating the “fruits” of their labor. Pun intended!
New Talents. Try a class or lesson in a skill outside your comfort zone. Painting, singing, cooking, yoga, rock climbing, sports, etc. See if you can schedule a trial lesson or two, just to expose your kids to new things.
Stay Active. Ride bikes along the boardwalk, head over to an open field and play an informal sports game, go swimming, take them to a spray park or playground. You can find lots of local information under the Family Fun tab at www.siparent.com.
Interview Your Children Individually. You can make this lots of fun by conducting it as a formal interview. Record it with the audio feature on your smartphone or videotape it. Ask about their favorite people, activities, songs, places they want to visit and why. What do they hope to accomplish in the upcoming year, five years, and by the time they are adults? Do this each year and save the interview. It’s fun to see how their focus changes and matures over time. If you have teens, this is good practice for college and job interviews they need to master in the future. The actual questions matter less than getting them to be comfortable answering on the spot.
Keep Sharp. Schedule in regular reading time (indoors or outside) so that the required reading list isn’t causing stress the week before they go back to school. Arrange tutoring in a subject that may have been a struggle during the school year. Focusing now on one problem area may get better results.
Organized Fun. Look for special events to plan outings and day trips like kid-friendly shows, library programs, fruit picking at pick-your-own farms. See www.siparent.com/pickyourown or www.siparent.com/events to help you plan. Invite friends and go together to double (or triple!) the fun.
Do Good Deeds. Select age-appropriate volunteer opportunities to ingrain this habit into your kids while they are young. See some ideas at www.siparent.com/volunteer-opportunities
Be Prepared for Rainy Days. Keep a list of indoor activities—board games, dance party, cooking/baking, favorite movies, etc. Let us help make your list; see www.siparent.com/indoorfun.
Free Time. Ahhh!!! The beauty of it is not to be denied. Let their imaginations solve the problem of boredom. It will inspire questions and wonder and lead to all kinds of spontaneous teaching moments.
Of all the plans, trips, and money spent, the most memorable may well be the free time spent together without an agenda. Carpe Diem!
By Gerri Friscia, who looks forward to Summer Break each year with the enthusiasm of a fifth-grader!