How to Have a Memorable and Stress Free Summer

 Crystal Miller



     In this day in age of busy, busy, busy, can it really be said that summer time is a relaxing and enjoyable experience for you and your children??  I would like to give you a few hints on how to slow down and have a summer that could be one of your most enjoyable summers yet.  Perhaps it will be a summer that can make many memories and be more stress free than you know.


     Parents often tend to look at summer with either dread or the need to start lining up lots of activities to keep kids occupied.  If you feel dread then perhaps I can give you suggestions to help you on a path that will bring back the times in life where kids were kids and had memorable summer fun.  If you tend to start lining up lots of activities that means that you are on a schedule that demands your time, energy and effort and takes you far from home and a relaxing summer.  Let me suggest something different.  Let me suggest a plan that may just help both you and your children to have a peaceful summer. 


     The things I suggest here are not the norm with those around me and I suspect they may not be the norm that you see either.  Sometimes in life I have felt the need to step out of the box that society says is “normal” and make my own plans, mold my own life in order to give my children and my life a look and feel that fits me.  It is not for the sake of being different but for the sake of giving my children a certain quality of life of my choosing, not the worlds. 


     If you would like your summer to be relaxed and family centered then here are a few of my suggestions for you.  First off, don’t sign your kids up for anything this summer.  Just try it and see what you think.  They really will survive a missed art class, or gymnastics, 4-H or whatever.  Tell them this summer you want a more relaxed pace and that it is time to try something different (if you are use to a very busy life if may even feel like you are stepping off the merry-go-round for a few months~smile!~).  Then take the time to stop and show your children the world around them. Enjoy some time wher! e not each week is scheduled and hectic.  Teach your kids by example that life is not always what is going on “out there” but what can be discovered “right here”.   Take a walk each day and point out the birds, flowers, bugs and enjoy time spent watching them.  Let your kids run through the sprinkler, eat homemade fruit juice popsicles and snack on homemade trial mix (that they have helped to make of course!).  Learn to play (if a child has had a lot of structured, scheduled time he may have to recalibrate and learn how to play again! :) , climb trees, dig in the dirt and make mud pies.  Have family barbeques and pot luck get-together’s with friends.  Take your kids to a pond, river or lake and search for pond life,! lay in the sun, swim and talk.  Find some good quality books and spend lazy summer afternoons under a big tree or your front porch reading to them.  A few suggested books that we have loved are the Little House Series, Chronicles of Narnia, Little Princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy, Heidi, Charlottes Web, Stuart Little, Trumpet of the Swam, The Cabin Faced West and the list could go on. 


     Give them things to invest their time in.  Plant a garden with them.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, try a small spot up against the house or containers on a deck or porch.  Let them pick something to plant and tend it and take some pride in their accomplishments.  Consider giving them something to love and care for, a puppy, kitty, rabbit, hamster, even fish. I admit a fish is hard to love!! ~smile~ but there is always something special about knowing that an animal is relying on you for its daily existence.  It has always been a worthwhile experience for my children.&n! bsp; Teach them a new skill.  Let them help you in the kitchen, bake with them and if they are old enough let them plan, shop and cook a whole meal on their own.  Teach them to sew and make something they can wear, or change the oil in the car or build a bird feeder and learn to identify back yard birds. 


     Take day trips to the zoo, science museums and parks.  Pick berries as each type comes in season and make jam together.  Invite friends over and do a craft project. Visit the county fair and be impressed and inspired by the beautiful quilts, homemade jams and baked goods and all the other blue ribbon winners. Or plan a bit ahead of time and let your child enter a plate of cookies that they have made on their own.  Go and see all the farm animals, pet them and learn a little about them.  Take pictures and make a scrapbook of your summer to save the memory. 


     Then, when fall arrives, evaluate your summer and see if it was more peaceful and more enjoyable then perhaps busier ones that you have had. See if the time spent together doing simple things at a slower pace helped you bond more with your children and made your summer one that will be a lasting memory. Ask your children if they enjoyed it too.  You may find that a life that is lived more like stroll down a country lane is a much better quality for everyone than a life that is lived on the fast lane of the freeway! :)




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