Friday, May 29, 2009

How will you keep those kids occupied this summer?

This is a big question to tackle for most new to raising children (and some of us old hats!) If you're a stay-at-home, the endless days of summer can be a daunting time. You rise to meet each day filled with endless hours of how to entertain the kids.

That being said, let me remind you that it is NOT your job to entertain your children! Oooops, did I offend someone? Well, it's true. You are not a paid entertainer, nor should you be. That's what Disney World gets the big bucks for!

Your "job" is to give your kids a healthy environment in which to flourish. I believe it actually hinders a childs mental and, possibly, physical growth when we, as parents, interfere too much with the natural process.

No, I am not saying it's okay to plop your kids down in front of the TV or Wii for hours a day. What I'm recommending is time to allow them to explore their world on their own, in their own time with healthy, safe guidance. Children are fully capable of entertaining themselves with their own learning processes, without too much interference on the parents part.

Have you ever handed a one-year-old a piece of newspaper? a two-year-old some pots & pans? a three-year old an empty box? If so, you've surely witnessed them spending large blocks of time amusing themselves while exploring the possibilities of this "new" introduction. This process doesn't stop as they mature; it matures with them!

Okay, I'm off that soap box...

Now on to some tips on how to spend quality time together, as a family.

1. A few years back I ran upon this neat site called Kids off the Couch. You may have guessed - they encourage just what the name implies, getting those kids up of the couch to explore their world.

How do they tackle this feat? Through the back door, of course! They give you a family movie idea and then tie it into tangible events or activities that your family can do after the movie. Fantastic way to learn!

If your family is couch/TV oriented, this is a great place to start. It's almost like a sneak attack on their senses! They'll be learning and won't even realize it...shoot, you could even sneak this one in on your significant other...and take all of the credit for the ideas. Aren't you sneaky???

Kids off the Couch offers a weekly newsletter, delivered right to your e-mail for FREE. (And they're on Twitter, too!)

2. Check out your local PBS station for tips and ideas. Sometimes there are local gatherings or shows that tell about upcoming "things to do".

My local station has a showing each Thursday night for weekend day trips. Many can be done during the week, as well!

3. Now is a great time to try out your local YMCA or city pools. Many offer summer discounts. What better way can you think of to occupy all of that free time than to get healthy?

4. What about a week at summer camp? Many facilities offer sleep-away or day camps. This will give your children a vacation from you, which often strengthens your relationship! Also a great option for those of you planning on a "stay-cation" this year...

Check with your local museums for science, arts, and history for some amazing learning opportunities that the kids will remember for a lifetime! My son took a cooking class 4 years ago that he still talks about.

5. Check with your local and state visitors centers for FREE ideas, hints, and tips on things to do in your area. I've got a Historical Marker quest on schedule for this summer!

6. Most importantly - don't be afraid to explore and discover with your kids. Many of us get so involved in being an adult, we forget that it is okay to relax and laugh with them. I missed out on many fun times by remaining stressed and rigid while my kids were small!

Stay tuned for more hints & tips for summer activities...


Allison said...

I'm not a parent, but I really like your tips. I did summer camp all summer long for years and years, and those are some of my best memories.

Thumperdd said...

Thanks, Allison!

Glad you liked the tips. You know, a few can work well for adults, too...even the Kids off the Couch link - if you enjoy watching "Family" movies.

Summer camp was great for me, too. But I never went to sleep-away camp only the school systems' enrichment program. Gosh, I learned so much there & some much about myself!