Tuesday, May 31, 2016

summer break with kids - low key activity ideas

When school is out for the summer, we all celebrate. I really like to have my kids out and have a free schedule. I always wanted to be the mom that was fun and had all these things planned to do with my kids. You now like go to the beach every week.
There was a time when I was a fun mom. My husband would go to work and I did fun things with my boys during the summer. We drove to the train museum near by in Perris, CA, in San Diego we spent hours at Balboa Park exploring, we drove long distances to visit cousins, we went to swimming lessons, we went to get frozen custard, we spent countless hours at the park, we went to watch baseball in the evening, we did fun things! Summer was fun and I wasn't a yelling mom who wanted them to go entertain themselves so I could get stuff done.

We once tried the "choose a slip of paper" activity, or the "summer list" to help us with ideas, but I found we did better when we just thought of things the day of, or even the day or week before for things that needed planning.

I enjoyed doing things for them to make them happy because it made me happy too!
I haven't changed, I still want those fun things for my kids. I still want them to have a fun mom. I just have a hard time being that fun mom because that mom needs a lot of energy. I have changed though because I'm not a full of energy mom these days so I have to be a fun mom in other ways.

So what doesn't take a lot of energy for me? What do we do? We don't spend a lot of time on our screens or devices. I'm not saying that never happens, but during the summer they get 1 hour max a day because there is so many other things to do. Many days they don't have time for screens at all. But I'm not focusing on that in this post.

These ideas I share are also perfect for any mom who wants a low key day but still loves spending time with the kiddies. Now, these are not all new and novel ideas. These are just regular things, but to the child of a tired and limited energy mom these things are still enjoyable if done with fun intentions.

1- I still love taking my boys to the park. We load up their bikes and they'll ride around the trails and play on the playground. I'll sit in the shade or walk around for exercise. This is one of easiest things to do to bring joy. Some times we will meet up with friends.

2- We still go get ice cream. I love treats and that is very simple. Some times we get it and take it to the park. Custard, shakes, smoothies, ice cream, we are not picky and welcome anything frozen and cold.

3- The city library. Summer reading programs are always a fun things for my boys. They have always loved reading and we leave with our bags full of new books that keep them enthralled for days. The programs we have participated in usually offer a t-shirt, free In-N-Out, free books, and lots of reading time to get lost in a new adventure! My boys have grown out of the children's story time, but when they were younger it was a big hit.
Here is a reading program that Barnes & Noble does every year. It goes from grades 1- 6th. It starts June 4th.

4- The swimming pool. This works best for us now because my boys can swim and I don't need to be in with them. We live 100 steps from our community pool and it's always pretty empty. We usually have it to ourselves. The hours a day we spend here makes for the perfect day.

5- Outside gardening. One day is spent at the local nursery gathering our flowers and plants and necessary supplies. Another day or so is spent planting. We use large patio pots and potting soil for our veggies because we don't have a designated area for our garden yet in the ground. We have been successful in planting tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, basil, green peppers, and peas. We try to plant what we eat on a regular basis. Flowers are easy and we do a few pots with different mixtures for our front porch. The fun isn't over after the plating is done. No, they get the fun of watering the plants, looking for weeds, and getting scissors to cut off what we need from the basil or other plants wehn they start to grow.

6- The Dollar store. We live so close to a dollar store that it's so convenient to go there. My kids love picking out a treat, a unique toy, or a frozen Popsicle to enjoy.

7-Summer school. This is usually for about 2 hours a day most days, when we are not traveling for vacation. Our summer school usually focuses on about three fun topics. One summer we did the United States and Capitals. I realized my 5th grader was graduating elementary school and he never was taught the states or the countries! I learned these in 5-6th grade and was sad they didn't teach it in school. So we learned them at home. We focused on 1-3 states a day and learned a few fun facts about the state and it's location on the map.
We have also learned to sew, starting with simple projects. I think it's important for my boys to learn the basics of the sewing machine and the construction process of different items. We started small with bean bags. They even sew on their own scout patches on their shirts. This summer we will continue sewing by focusing on hand sewing on a button as well as making pillows in themes they choose(Minecraft has been on their mind for a while now).
This summer I will also be teaching them more about finances, like balancing a check book, writing checks, basics of credit cards and how to budget with groceries and other expenses by using local grocery adds and a mock check book.
Another "school subject" we do is keyboarding. This is sadly not taught in our schools either. It's an important skill to have and I expect them to do 15 minutes a day on their keyboarding program.
I have a desire to teach them a little about photography and Photoshop, but that has never happened quite yet so I'll keep it in my mind for the future.

8- Cooking. It's amazing how much our kids can do when we give them the opportunity. Simple skills in the kitchen can easily lead to accomplishing harder tasks. Littlest E can now fry zucchini in the pan on the burner. I never let them my youngest cook without me in the kitchen supervising. But my oldest can now cook macaroni and cheese and even bake biscuits and cookies without me in the kitchen. Being able to accomplish these tasks are very rewarding for them and they love eating the final product.
This Summer we will be focusing on making a specific meal. They will get to choose and then plan for it.

9- Have a garage sale. Throughout the year, when I have things I need to donate to good will or Deseret Industries, I've been pretty good about just putting it in an area to save for a Summer garage sale. One year I had a few things saved up to get rid of. I got the idea to let my boys have a garage sale with the stuff instead. I wanted everything to sell so I wouldn't have to drive to the donation place. The kids were excited at the idea and helped price and label everything. I was very convincing to have low prices so that everything would sell. The next morning, they woke up early, set up a table with the stuff to sell in front of our house and waited. They had such high hopes for getting rich. Eventually, after a couple hours, everything was gone save a few items of clothing. They earned over $20 each and felt very successful.

You can see the second part to the Summer break with kids- night time activities addition HERE.

*I'm sharing these thoughts and ideas from my own experience. I'm not working with any blogging agency or brand, I'm not being paid or compensated in anyway to write this.

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