School is out, your kids have been home for just a few days and you're out of ideas to spend the time together! I mean, you can only make going to the grocery store an adventure for so long. So we put together a few ideas of activities to keep you and your nuggets busy this summer. But first, here are some things to keep in mind:
Listen, nothing is worse then going to the beach or on a beautiful hike, only to come home and be red as a tomato the next day. Then the peeling starts. Then the denial. Then the bargaining. Then the acceptance. It's brutal. Don't let your kids go through it. Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale of the Skin Cancer Institute suggests that we can never apply too much sunscreen, and instead that most of us are applying too little sunscreen! So lather up this summer. Don't worry about that golden glow: just prevent the firery burn!
Dehydration is no joke. We often forget that our kids can overheat just as easily as we can. Anyone who has a toddler who has napped in the summer with their favorite blanket can attest to how sweaty they can get! So you need to replenish that loss liquid and help them stay hydrated. Keep a few extra waterbottles with you when you go out. A great trick is to freeze a waterbottle that is 2/3 of the way full, then fill it up with water in the morning before you go out- you'll have chilled water for several hours.
HATS (& DAD VISORS)
Trying to keep a hat on a child is like herding cats. We know. But keeping the sun off their head and out of their eyes will really help make an outting outdoors much more plesant. TIP: let your kids pick out the hat. Yes, they may pick out the most horrific hat in the store, but they will be much more likely to wear the hat if they picked it from the start. Also, retire your dad visor. Please. Just... just leave it in the closet (or fireplace).
BUG SPRAY & FIRST AID
If you've not read my Diaper Bag Necessities article, you have got to head over there because I totally talk about other stuff to bring when you're with your kiddos. If you're going sans diaper bag, then remember to bring bug spray (even if it's not in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains). Bugs host their annual get together in the summer, so they're out and hungry. Put a little first aid kit in your glove box just for any accidents that may happen. It's always better to be prepared than to panic when you've got a bleeder!
Plan times where you can get out of the sun and into some shade, preferably with a little A/C. This will make EVERYONE feel better. Popsicles and ice cream (or a little fro-yo) also help to keep temperatures and tempers down. Nothing is more uncomfortable than being hot and sticky and sweaty, so try your best to plan moments to cool down on those hot summer days.
SUMMER TREASURE HUNT
ARRRRR! Here's the deal, I want you to have a great summer with your kiddos, but I also don't want you to go broke this summer. This is because I don't want to go broke when I have my kids in the summer. So I put on my thinking cap (not dad visor, see above) and came up with this little gem: a Summer Treasure Hunt.
Click on the picture at the top of the post to download this treasure hunt as a .PDF so you can print it out, put it on the fridge, and embark on the summer treasure hunt of your lives! There are enough summer toys and water guns in your children's toy chest, so spend this summer making memories with your kids doing things that are absolutely free of charge. Did you hear that? You can enjoy a fun filled summer FREE OF CHARGE :D and build memories with your kiddos along the way.
When you've completed one of these tasks, give the circle a check mark or a fancy "X" until the entire map is checked off. Then keep the map and any tokens from your adventure in a box for your kid's keepsake. Imagine how fun it will be for them to look back at the effort you put into planning a great summer with them! I did this and it was a total riot with my kids.
Here are some of my observations from planning this summer out with the Daily Dad Summer Treasure Map:
- Do not forget that you're CREATING MEMORIES. I have to admit that while I was busily planning activities to check off some of the items on the map, I got too caught up in planning and missed out on some enjoying! Once I realized that my kids were must more interested in spending time with me than doing something exciting or new, I decided to take a step back and really focus on making sure that the kids had great memories of our summer. Riding down the river with my kids singing songs and splashing each other was an absolute highlight of the summer. Hearing these nuggets squeel with joy as we hit little wakes in the river and laugh as we made fart noises rubbing our wet suits against the rubber raft totally captured what summer is all about.
- BE ADAPTABLE. Case in point: I had made a scary story for my kiddos to enjoy part of the "ghost story" item on the list. It took me a bit of time to put the book together and get it printed and bound and all that jazz. I thought, man I'm doing a killer job at this parenting thing, I legit made a book for my kids! Boom. Drops mic. But when it came time to read the book, my kids were less than thrilled. My four year old questioned, "If we're going to read a ghost story, can we read the Mickey Mouse ghost story on the iPad?" At first I thought to myself, hell no lady! Daddy done made you a book for hells sake! But I looked at her totally pure expression and agreed. We now read that book about once a week. Plans change. That's okay. What is it, "Man plans, God laughs"? Well I think it could just as easily be, "Dad plans, Kids laugh!" Be adaptable and life is much more enjoyable.
- Let your KIDS be KIDS! I love my kiddos. I love that they are still kiddos. If I had a nickel for everytime someone said to me, "Enjoy these years with your kids, they go by way to fast." I'd be well on my way to a billion bucks. When I told the kids I would let them pick out their outfits for the day, all my kids wanted to do was to dress up the dog! My poor pug sat through what must have been a painful process of trying on nearly every hair accessory in the house. I sat back and just laughed at how damn cute my kids were being. Their laughter and excitement for doing something totally fun made a memory that I'll not soon forget. Giving kids permission to be kids sounds like something Dr. Phil would say before closing his show, but I think there's some merit to that. Kids are goofy and wild and silly and sticky and messy. And that's perfectly okay. Expecting them to be the opposite is not.
- Be CREATIVE. While making the puppets I told the kids that we should make our puppets look like ourselves. After a minute or so of brainstorming, my daughter asked me to cut long strips of pink felt for her puppet. I asked her what she was going to do with it and she said she wanted her puppet to have pink hair. I resisted the urge to tell her that her hair was brown and so she should use the brown felt for her puppet. I decided to cut her pink strips as requested. The finished product is one of the best parts of summer. My kids still play with their puppets and I've found them in their beds lying next to them while they sleep. You can have so much fun when you're being creative with your time. And the best part is that being creative costs little to nothing. We made those puppets for less than $4.00. True story. Drops mic again.
So now with my official summer reivew complete, I can't wait for all of the fall festivities and memories we'll get to make in the ensuing months. I'm thinking leaves, costumes, witches, and buckets of candy. Bring it on.
How did your summers go? Put down some of the things you did with your kids and share them with us at The Daily Dad! We're always looking for new ideas and suggestions for maximizing your time with your kids!