Summer brings with it some pros and cons; like having more time with the kids, and er…having more time with kids!
While most school aged kids are pretty excited at the prospect of summer, many parents seem less than enthused.
So we’ve come up with a few tips to help you and your family survive (and perhaps even enjoy) those long, hot summer months.
Create a summer routine
Children thrive on consistency but it’s easy to get into irregular habits for meals, sleep and activities. By planning your day and theirs it can help ensure everyone’s needs are met – especially your own!
Plan day trips
It’s important not to overdo these…being ‘tripped out’ is not always a happy experience…but by interspersing the summer months with some planned activities, this helps ensure fun happens. The benefit: breaking the monotony and creating adventures and lasting memories you can all enjoy.
Make time for physical activities
Not only will this help kids get the daily exercise they need, but it will help bonding and may not do mom and dad any harm either. Consider swimming, paddling, cycling, hiking, skating, rock climbing, dance, martial arts or a plethora of sweat and cardio inducing pastimes (other) people do.
Ship them off to relatives
People in your family may like your kids even more than you realize. Test their love, and take complete advantage of their naivety by seeing if they will take care of your little person for a short break. Hint: grandparents rarely say no to such ‘opportunities’.
Rock it old school
Equip them with minimal toys and encourage them to use their imaginations – remember summer when you were a kid - building play forts, jumping through sprinklers, making sandcastles on the beach, playing frisbee, kicking a ball around, flying a kite, chalking on sidewalks, running a lemonade stand…
Arrange reciprocal playdates or childcare
Arm yourself with parental contact details for your kids’ most palatable friends, and help each other out by offering to mind each other’s kids on alternate days. It can be a win-win if you play it right.
Make use of summer camps
...if you can get into them. If like us you beat the life out of your alarm clock at 5:25 AM instead of dutifully waking and booking the best summer camps before they all filled up in 20 mins, then you may be out of luck. Sometimes people drop out after booking a gazillion spots on the off chance they’ll be in town that week, so do get onto wait lists if too late for initial registration!
Seek out free activities!
Consider drop off opportunities at the library and the pool. For example Nelson has loads of great places to take kids – the Skate Park in Rosemont, Lakeside Park with awesome beaches, green space and play park, Gyro Park with it’s free pool, Lions Park with summer splash park. Kokanee Creek is loaded with great beaches, safe trails, a visitor centre, and play parks.
Explore stores they love
It’s been over 5 years in Nelson for us, yet every time we walk down Baker Street we feel like we’re on vacation somewhere fun. Why not have a 'staycation' in your own town. Consider taking the kids for a trip to their favourite stores with a little hard earned pocket money in hand. For us in Nelson it's Pixie Candy, Secret Garden, Mountain Baby, Through the Looking Glass, Waits News (for ice cream) and of course Play It Again Kids! It’s fun the family can enjoy together, and a great way to teach kids budgeting and math skills. Whether you live in Castlegar, Kaslo, Creston, Trail, Salmo or anywhere else in the Kootenay Boundary or beyond, your kids will likely have their own favourite haunts.
Keep them learning
By encouraging games that make learning and development fun, and also having the kids enjoy books for pleasure, this helps them keep fresh the learning they’ve done throughout the school year. It also makes the transition back to school easier by boosting their confidence!
Take advantage of the wonderful Kootenay weather and send the kids outside for as much time as possible. As long as they’re lathered up with sunscreen and the correct attire, with adequate boundaries and supervision, they’ll be good.
Force them outside
Create a ‘boredom jar’
Write down several potentially fun activities your child may be interested in doing. Cut out each task, and place them in a jar labelled ‘bored?” Any time they whine about having nothing to do they must randomly select a task, and do it. Problem solved! You can save yourself time by Googling 'bored jar printables'.
Set up limits on screen time
It’s very hard to cut out screen time altogether, but it’s important to set realistic limits and expectations. Without this discussion kids will happily slip into a daily routine of TV and games if allowed.
Brainstorm activities together
It’s important to have kids come up with suggestions of things they want to do. Having them make suggestions will encourage ‘buy in’ - helping them feel empowered and valued, while making them more inclined to want to do said activities. It will also help develop children’s problem solving skills and free thinking thereby encouraging self-motivation and initiative.
Bee stings, bites, cuts, scrapes, bruises and sunburn – with more time outdoors, summer can bring more opportunities to showcase your first aid skills. Be sure to top up the first-aid kit and have one close at hand whenever you’re out with the kids – remembering prevention is always better than cure!