9 Ways to Make the Best Family Summer Ever
We are in the heat of summer- quite literally. The temperatures are soaring to triple digits and kids are melting everywhere- or is that just the ice cream? The time has come to take charge of these precious days you have with your kids. They grow up fast and eventually will leave you alone on the river once they hit those teenage years. If you are like me, your kids may be spending perhaps too much time on electronics or involved in video games. Here are some ideas with coping with that issue here. It’s an on-going struggle, but creating other outlets is usually the best coping method. Don’t let the remainder of this summer break slip away. Make this summer a summer to remember. Here are 9 ideas to help you make this the best summer ever!
- Take a vacation (or just a night) away. A different town to explore and a different bed can make all the difference in the world. Even if you bring your own food and water (see the Family Packing Hacks post here). There’s nothing like chilling out in a hotel pool and dashing back and forth to the hot tub late into the night. Make use of the free hotel gyms available too and free breakfast if they have it.
- Plan an outing with friends. Sometimes a night away can’t fit tight budgets, so what about a day? Bring your kids and some of their friends (and yours). Find a local swimming hole or park and pack a picnic lunch. Bring along some camping chairs and a big picnic blanket (a sheet will do too), and stash a Frisbee, soccer ball or football in the bag for an impromptu lawn game. Your kids may not remember a summer spent helping you fold laundry, but they will remember that time they played freeze tag in the park with their friends!
- Go star-gazing. Use a ground sheet and sleeping bags or even just lounge chairs and check out the stars. There’s some great children’s constellation books and even apps on i-Tunes, if you want to know what you are looking at, if not, just lay back and enjoy. Make sure you are in a safe area first, of course, or if you are lucky enough to live in a place with a starry view, just use your back yard. Check your local paper for star-gazing in the local parks or observatories. Science centers plan these events during the summer months.
- Go on a treasure hunt. Geo-caching adventures may not bring in the gold, but you and the kids can hunt for hidden treasures (usually little toys, shells or marbles) all over the country, using longitude and latitude- great for building map skills. When you find your treasure, you have to replace it with a new one of your own, so keep those little green army men on hand. And you don’t have to purchase a GPS device, you can download the app on your phone. Check out geocaching.org for more information.
- Take up a family sport. Make this summer a team summer by including all the members in a family sport- anything from racquet ball, tennis to bowling and soccer. Many local recreational parks offer free racquetball courts and soccer fields. And bowling alleys tend to offer summer discounts and specials to draw in business. Pick a time that the whole family has available and make it your regular. Plan a final goal or championship play-off towards the end of summer.
- Go camping. Plan a camping trip at your local State Park. Though reservations for those tend to fill up fast. There are many wildlife management areas, like the sections of the Florida Trail and Dawsonville WMA (Georgia) that allow you to camp for free. Some require permits beforehand, so check their websites for requirements if you are doing some back-country camping. Check out nearby National Parks and County Parks too for other camping options.
- Make real ice cream. Homemade ice cream has been a summer tradition in my husband’s family forever, and it was them who introduced me and the kids into the world of fresh ice cream, bringing their electric ice cream churn, rock salt, cream to my mother-law’s house. We would all wait in anticipation until the churn stopped and the ice cream, (colder than any other ice cream I have ever tasted) was ready. Get the kids involved in ice cream making, by adding their favorite flavorings. The ice cream recipe is actually on the back of the rock salt box you buy at the grocery store. There are also really good no-cook ice cream recipes on line too (just make sure you have the no-cook ones to keep it simple (ie no eggs)) You can purchase an inexpensive electric churn almost anywhere, just keep the edges topped up with salted ice. Have toppings like M & M’s, bananas & strawberries, chocolate syrup & walnuts ready on hand for a sundae show-down.
- Plan a movie night. Going to the movies can be way expensive for a large family. Try a drive-in movie for an inexpensive way to watch the latest flix, or alternately, Redbox a movie, or if you have Amazon Prime, you have access to lots of movies for free with the Prime check next to it. Make your own popcorn and drinks (we used to have a pizza picnic on the living room floor with a Redbox movie). If you are a family of movie goers, plan a marathon (Star Wars anyone?) invite the kids’ friends over too. Go retro and put in a family classic like The Goonies.Your movie night might inspire your kids to create their own movie.
- Explore. Go, seek out different things in your own town. Go by foot, or bicycle or boat. Stop by the Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Board of your city and see what there is to do nearby. Become a tourist in your own town. You can let the kids do research on this one too, if they are old enough. Check out the different playgrounds in your city or splash pads and swimming holes. Are there any free concerts? Check them out. Are there ghost tours? Zoos? State Parks or trails? Botanical Gardens? Always ask about discounts or free days for places. As Mark Twain once said (I am paraphrasing here):” Years from now when you are old, you will not regret the things you have done, but those things that you have not done.” He then goes on to say:” Go forth, Explore. Dream. Discover.” Make this an explorer’s summer!
Start some family traditions. Find new places. Connect with friends. Have picnics and check out the stars. Make this the Best Summer Ever.
What family adventures do you like to do over the summer break?
Looking for things to do this summer? Check out these posts:
- Exploring the Gulf Coast with Kids
- Angling for Adventures
- Snorkeling at St. Andrews, Panama City Beach
- Riding the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad