Ah, summer! The delightful time of sunshine, swimming, snow cones, and sandcastles. My husband, Michael, and I love to make summer exciting for our three kids. As a stay at home mom for 12 years and now a public school teacher, I have the pleasure of spending every day with my kids during the summer. And while every idea of summer sounds wonderful as the days approach, without a plan it can become an endless cry of boredom and discontent, regardless of the age of your kids.
Years ago, in our house, we developed the annual event of making the Sunny Summer List. One night in the month of May, we all sit around on our kitchen stools and spew out ideas of summer fun. Some ideas come from the kids, some come from plans that Michael and I have been secretly planning for months, and others ideas are shot down by us or by the kids. The list has somewhat changed over the years as our kids have gotten older, but here are 5 keys to choosing activities that will help everyone thrive this summer.
1. Throw in some gimmies! — Even though the kids are the ones mostly bringing their ideas to the table, I am always quick to add my own easy to check off items. Here is where the neighborhood pool and watching the Summer Olympics make the list. We know we are going to do these things regardless of whether they are on the list or not, but it’s still fun to know we can mark them off at the inaugural event each summer.
2. Inexpensive doesn’t mean boring. — Each year our family plans a great trip to get out of town or even out of the country. We are very thankful for those opportunities, but that means that for the rest of the summer, we need to show some restraint financially. The inexpensive ideas are sometimes our favorite. Here are some of the ones that keep showing up for us: local parks for hikes and playgrounds, picnics in the library courtyard, a bike ride in the church parking lot, and kids cook day. We want our kids to find joy in the small things as well as the elaborate ones.
3. Develop traditions. — A fun and unexpected corollary of the Sunny Summer List is that traditions were started without even knowing it would happen. Our annual water balloon war is getting more intense every year, which is why we look forward to it more and more each summer. Fireworks with our church friends, cousin sleepovers, and kickball games continue to add to the fun of our summer and reminds our friends and family that they are a part of our summer traditions as well.
4. Local makes sense. — In Nashville, eating local is an easy task — it’s all delicious! But, you don’t have to live in Nashville to support local eateries, shops and activities. Find out if church members own any local coffee shops, snow cone stands or skating rinks. Add these to your summer list to be sure your summer fun budget is going back to those that you know best and want to support. Local can also mean giving back by volunteering. There are many churches, nursing homes, Baptist Children’s Homes, hospitals and food banks that would love for you and your kids to come with your energy and abilities. Be sure to make a call to plan your visit and bring another family with you. Volunteering with friends is even better!
5. Choose a summer goal. — On the last day of school each year, we take the kids to a relatively nice dinner and each one of us declares what our goal for the summer is. The kids have overwhelmed us with their plans and ideas. Since the start of this tradition, we have seen our kids be molded and shaped by their goals. They have memorized passages, read countless books, learned dances and run half marathons. Warning: their goals quickly become yours. As it turns out, 12 years olds need someone to train for half marathons with them!
Our Sunny Summer List creation day is already on the calendar for this year. Some ideas will make the cut and others will be laughed away because it is too cheesy or too expensive. Once we have a couple of pages of ideas, the kids will clamor over who gets to draw the picture of the pool and who has to draw the picture of the bicycle. But my favorite thing about making the list will be the stories of past years. Like, the year we put three question marks on the list and told the kids there would be a surprise that year — a new puppy! Or the year we knew it would be my mom’s last summer with us and rather than skipping the summer’s activities, we included all the joys of spending extra time with cousins while my sisters and I cared for my mom in her last days. We may not know what this summer will hold, but we do know that a plan to spend it together is what will make it meaningful.
Here is a fun, summer, printable checklist, inspired by Jana!
Summer Check List
Meredith Teasley Photography www.meredithteasley.com
Jana Kelley is back in the classroom as a full-time educator. After spending twelve years as a stay-at-home mom, Jana seized the opportunity to teach at the beloved school that all three of her children attended. Jana lives in Brentwood, Tennessee, with her husband, Michael and their three children, Joshua, Andi, and Christian. They love to travel and be outside together.
The post 5 Tips for Creating a Sunny Summer List + Our Printable Summer Check List appeared first on Lifeway Women.