For Parents

Parenting Tips

Simple Summer Vacation Ideas

Dear Janie,

As a child, the thing I loved most about summer vacation was all the free time I had to ride my bike and just hang out. With all the options kids have today, I don’t think my children (ages 8, 11 and 13) even know what “hanging out” is! There is always a birthday party, play date or baseball practice to run to.

My wife and I both work full-time, so this summer the children will spend their days at a child care center. But I want to make the most of the time they have in the evenings and on weekends. Can you give me some ideas for taking it slow and making this a summer they will remember?

Signed,
Daddio

Dear Daddio,

I’m with you! I love summer and the memories I have from my childhood. My friends and I would spend hours just sitting in the grass and dreaming about the future. We would ride our bikes, eat popsicles in the yard, listen to music and read books. We made the most of the freedom we had in the summer to escape the responsibilities we had during the school year.

Today, I see children who spend their summers going from day-camp to day-camp, committing hours to swim teams and diving teams, and eating most dinners in the car because they are running from one game or practice to another. I honestly look at these families and ask, “Why?”

Although many families (including yours) must utilize child care during the summer months while parents are at work, the evenings don’t have to be filled with activities. Why not make this an unstructured, unplugged summer?

There are so many “low tech” ways to have fun together. Think back to the days before Wii, computer games and the Internet, and remember the things you liked to do as a child.

Here are a few ideas I used with my own children:
• Buy sidewalk chalk and decorate your driveway.
• Put an old-fashioned tire swing in your yard.
• Blow the dust off that old ice cream maker and fix a big batch of strawberry ice cream.
• Take a long drive (remember that?).
• Buy a super-sized pack of bubble gum, sit under a tree and have a bubble blowing contest.
• Pitch a tent in your back yard, grab a flashlight and spend the night under the stars.
• Run through the sprinkler.

These are the things your children will remember – not who finished in first place on the video game. So make the commitment to take it easy this summer. If you do, I guarantee your family will make memories that will last a lifetime.