Getting more out of summertime

Maria Cunningham

As I stood in line at the local movie rental store, I noticed the man in front of me had an armful of DVDs.  The guy next to him seemed to know him and inquired about all the DVDs. 

“Oh, they’re for my kids.  You know, school is out.  My wife sent me here with a list.  She says she gonna go nuts with the kids home all day for the next three months!”

Later I was sitting by the baby pool and overhead two moms talking about all the camps and classes they had enrolled their children in for the summer to keep them busy.  One mom commented, “I don’t want them to get bored!”

Sure, summertime can be an adjustment with having your kids home all day, but is it really that bad?

I think not.

Summer break offers a wonderful opportunity for kids and parents to relax, develop their imaginations, read the classics, and play in a way that only the summer allows.

There is nothing wrong with summer camps or even watching DVDs in the summer, in moderation.  Kids do not need to have every minute of their day scheduled, nor should they.  If they are provided with constant activity and entertainment, they will come to expect it. Definitely not something you want to instill in your kids.

I think back to my summers as a kid – squirt gun fights, long afternoons at the pool, building forts in the back yard, trips to the library, sewing projects with my mom, the never ending Monopoly games with my siblings, week day sleepovers at my best friend’s house, day trips to museums and parks, making homemade ice cream, afternoon movies at the local theatre, planning a neighborhood carnival in our backyard, reading books that were not “assigned” to me, and trips to visit my grandparents.  Those experiences created memories that I still carry with me.

Here are some ideas to get you started … How about a summertime reading program for your family?  What about teaching your kids to make an easy dinner from start to finish?   Choose a week day to go to daily Mass.  Consider starting a small garden in your backyard.  Go camping.  Take a bike ride.  Make a mini pilgrimage to a local church or shrine.   Look into your local parks outdoor theatre programs for puppet shows and concerts.  Find a pen pal for your child.   Visit  your local zoo or a farm.  Participate in the Summer Faith Adventure online (http://www.holyheroes.com/).  How about creating a scrapbook with your kids?  Plan a family picnic.  Go strawberry picking.   Choose a volunteer opportunity for your family.  Tie-die some t-shirts.   Visit an elderly neighbor.  Just allow time for the kids to play … an activity that seems to be neglected these days.

Don’t feel the need to schedule every minute of your kids’ summer.  Instead, relax, enjoy them and have fun with each other.

What are some of  your ideas?

Topics: Culture , Family , Parenting

Maria Cunningham lives in Fairfax, Virginia with her husband Chuck, and their ten children.   Maria provides a look into her life as a "mom-of-many" at her blog Home Sweet Heart.

View all articles by Maria Cunningham

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