As I write this my two teens are finishing up their last week of school and I’m thinking about the 2+ months of free time they’ll have on their hands. I have a feeling a lot of moms are dealing with this same scenario and, depending on how old your child is, it can be a big challenge to make these next few months fun, but productive. As teens, if I don’t have a "plan" I know my two will spend the entire summer loafing around, unmotivated to do anything and end up driving each other crazy or giving me more gray hair than I already have!
I learned this the hard way after spending my first summer with them. It took about two weeks of no school to figure out they needed some kind of structure or else they’d find ways to keep themselves amused that were NOT amusing to me. I’ve since planned out their summers so that they have a good balance of free time where they do what they want and time spent on things such as summer reading lists, reviewing last year’s lessons and helping out around the house. They know that a typical week day during the summer they will spend their morning hours working on summer reading and doing one of the chores I’ve given them for that day. After lunch they’ve got the afternoon to spend doing fun things, but they also know that if it’s a nice day some of that time must be spent outdoors being active. Playing games with friends, fishing at the local pond or swimming at the community pool are things they do frequently. I don’t allow them to spend their summers planted in front of the T.V. or video game.
Younger children take more adult supervision and many of the things I’ve already mentioned would work well if mom, dad or a caregiver were included in the activity. Just recently, Fruits & Veggies–More Matters added some very cool do-it-yourself garden projects for children, which would be ideal for the summer months. If you have your own veggie garden, get your kids out there to help take part in the growing process. Not only will they learn about gardening, but they’ll be more likely to eat those veggies when they’ve been part of growing them as seen in a recent About the Buzz article.
The most important thing is to allow them to have some "down" time, but keep them active. Take it from someone who learned the hard way–if they have some structure to their days the summer months will be more fun for both you and your kids.