Some families panic at the thought of being home with the kids all summer. However, with a little planning and ingenuity your togetherness can be lots of fun.
To begin, gather brochures and community events to begin planning your ‘outings’. Use your local Town’s resources, ballgame schedules, children’s summer class schedules, vacation books, etc. If you have different age children, plan on doing something different from day to day based on the age group. If each child knows that they are going to get to choose their special day, then they should, with a little coaxing, be able to tolerate the activities geared for their younger or older sibling. Rather than make children of different ages wait a whole day until it’s their activity day, perhaps you can break up a day so that everyone gets a little of what they want to do.
When considering activities, you and your spouse should meet first to discuss and determine your budget for the summer. You should also work with a calendar and find out which days each of you can take off from work to be the ‘counselor’ for the day. It can be very exciting for the children if busy “Dad” takes off a day here and there to take the kids on a ‘surprise’ trip, or out to lunch. Talk about which activities you both agree on for your children. Consider your children’s interests, your work schedule and be sure to ‘assess’ each individual child’s needs. Keep the schedule flexible in the event something doesn’t go as planned. This is a great time to schedule your kids for swimming lessons, sport lessons or enrichment classes.
You should always consider the home activities, crafts, treasure hunts, water games (using the sprinkler and water guns), academic games, races, board games, etc. With a little ingenuity you can come up with a long list of things to do with the kids at home. There are many different ways to divide up a week’s worth of activities. If you have young children that need to nap, you can do the ‘home activities’ with the older children until the younger set is ready to get out and go. Try to do all day home activities only on rainy days. It’s best to get the kids out every day, but try to keep to a similar daily routine so that everyone knows what to expect.
Have all the kids participate in the preparation for a day’s outing. If lunch has to be made, do it the night before and let all the kids do what they can to help make the sandwiches or pack the snacks. The older kids can help wash the fruit or get the drinks prepared. They can also help you pack up the car. Include the kids in the preparation and clean-up, but be aware when the kids are getting too tired. Cranky kids can truly turn a good day into a very challenging day. Try to remain calm despite your exhaustion, and try to use humor to diffuse the fighting and the crankiness. If you know that you don’t have enough energy to face an entire summer with the kids alone, then hire a responsible teenager to help you out.
If you get ‘stuck in’ unexpectedly for a day, whether it is for either weather reasons or one of the kids gets sick, use that day to order lunch in. Try to maintain a constant sense of excitement throughout the week.
Use some of the days to visit relatives. Or plan days to do volunteer work with your children. If your children can handle 30 minutes at a nursing home, take them to visit senior communities. Afterwards, try to encourage your children to discuss how they felt visiting the elderly.
Living on Long Island gives you an advantage of having access to boat rentals. Take your kids fishing one morning, before it gets too hot. Take bicycles to the boardwalk before dinner, when it’s cooler, and let the kids have the fun of biking or roller skating along the beach. Tell the kids that when they get home they can help you put together a BBQ. Keep it fun and exciting.
Consider giving each of your kids a ‘throw away’ camera, and let them take pictures of their visits with family or when you are on an outing. At the end of each week provide time for each child to work on a personal scrap book to capture all that they did in the summer. Encourage the older kids to help their younger siblings put the scrap book together.
Speak to friends who are planning the same type of summer vacation with their family, and arrange days to swap kids. Each week let one child invite a friend to spend a day with him/her, while another one of your children spends the day with another family. At the end of the day, let your children play a game to guess what their sibling did with the other family. They can play charades or choose another way to ‘act out’ what they did so the other siblings (and Mommy) can guess what they did without the use of words.
There are some great activities going on this summer on Long Island. Look into the activities at Old Bethpage Restoration. Remember that old-fashioned picnics, visiting parks and playing ball is a good way to give the kids physical activity without spending money on an activity.
If you are going to be in the car for long periods of time, be prepared to play car games so that the kids don’t get bored or tired on the way. You can also prepare special snacks for the car rides when you know the trip will be exceptionally long. Let the kids take turns being ‘DJ’s’ and choose the music played in the car, as long as the music is acceptable to you.
Decide if you can have a family vacation away from home at the end of the summer and talk it up so that everyone looks forward to it.
Last, but not least, have the kids finish their summer scrap books, which they can take to school so they can ‘show off’ what they did during their summer vacation.
Debbie Ginsberg, cSMM and Frady Moskowitz, LMSW are partners in Uncluttered Domain Inc. We are Professional Organizers and Move Managers. Our services include all-inclusive moving assistance with a special focus on senior relocation services in addition to providing room by room organization. We welcome comments and questions and can be reached at Info@UnclutteredDomain.com. Please visit our website at www.UnclutteredDomain.com.