Everybody loves summer vacation, or at least the idea of summer vacation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long before the novelty wears off and the whining begins. It starts as a low murmur, then an irritating buzz, until it finally bubbles over into a roaring rush of foot tapping and kitchen pacing.
“I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!”
I think part of the problem is how much our kids are entertained on a regular basis. Between day camps and organized activities, television, video games, hand held devices, and electronic books, the summer streets are eerily empty. Where are the bicycles and the bathing suit clad bodies running through the sprinklers? Where is the sound of forts being built or water balloon fights? My childhood summers are speckled with memories of riding bikes, walking up to the corner store for Slurpees, creating hammocks in our backyard out of mom’s old sheets and dragging every last piece of Barbie paraphernalia out on the lawn with the other neighborhood girls. Toys were community property. Moms kissed their kids goodbye in the morning and didn’t expect them back in the house until dinner time.
For a while, I thought it was my job to entertain my children all summer, provide schedules full of play dates and activities. But that is not only tiring, but costly. I also don’t want them sitting in front of the television all day. So instead, we came up with some summer ground rules and expectations. Here is our Top Ten list to help avoid those “I’m so bored” summer time blues.
- Predetermine when or how much technology can be used per day in your home. Set their expectations.
- Enroll kids in a reading club through the public library.
- Set a specific “quiet” time to be used for reading.
- Have children write a postcard a week to a distant relative or family friend.
- Create summer specific chores to be completed each day. I am not a maid.
- If it’s age appropriate, make them responsible for preparing, or helping to prepare, at least one meal a day. I am not a personal chef.
- Plan one or two fun activities a week to give everyone something to look forward to. They do not need to have their social calendar filled every day.
- Encourage them to seek out other children in the neighborhood. It’s okay to have summer friends and school friends. I’m not a chauffeur.
- Stock a multitude of craft supplies to encourage creativity and inspire projects.
- Have children write journal entries about their daily activities. This is especially great when on vacation to help preserve memories.
And if all else fails, send them to Grandma’s.