School's Out For Summer
Today was our last day of school, and I can't believe I have a second grader! This summer I've decided the Sirons are going to have a whole lot less screen time and spend more time together as a family.
Last day of school!!
I cannot believe that Paisleigh is already a 2nd grader! How can this be happening already, and how am I so old?!
Somebody pass the Kleenex!
Sounds easy, right?
I mean, as a stay-at-home mom, I'm already here, so you'd think I'm halfway to the goal... The truth is, though, that being a stay-at-home parent is a lot like running your own business. You're the boss and you have the freedom to do what you'd like. Problem is, that can be a really slippery slope because it's SO easy to give your kids an iPad and spend your time doing your nails, putting on a sheet mask, or pinning things you can't afford on Pinterest (a.k.a. "Living the Dream").
This summer I'm choosing not to take the easy way out, and I want to challenge YOU to get organized with me as we try to make each day more fun and educational. WHO'S WITH ME?! (.....seriously..... any takers?)
When my daughter was little I was amazing at this.
Seriously -- I dedicated a TON of time to teaching her and focusing on what we could experience together. But the truth is, things really do start to get a little more difficult when you throw that second kiddo in the mix.
Looking back on last summer, I probably could have done better at planning, preparedness, and overall parenting...
So this year I'm starting the summer off right!
Without further adieu, I present my list of easy, cheap, and fun (yet educational) ideas that you can do at home or close to home to keep yourself sane and your kids happy this summer.
18 must-DO activities for summer fun:
- Waterpark in the back yard. Even if you have a nice, big pool, kids love sticking a couple of cheap kiddie pools, a slip and slide, and a sprinkler out in the yard. Last one dry is a rotten egg!
- Weekly trips to the library. Do you remember Book-It? It was my biggest summer passion when I was growing up. You can do this with your kids, too. Just set a weekly goal of how many books you'd like to read with your children and create a sticker chart to keep track. If you've got some extra funds, you could even throw in a special pizza dinner if you meet your goal. ;)
- Artfest (home edition). This one is huge for us because my oldest LOVES art. I plan on doing days where we paint rocks, a canvas or two, and make a plethora of crafty projects that I've stolen from Pinterest. If it's nice out, set everything up in the back yard so that clean up is a breeze.
- Local parks. We have a local water park that we love and will go to that a couple times a week. We also have White Water Passes and Silver Dollar City passes that we will use regularly. This doesn't have to be a specific kind of park. Near us there are theme parks, water parks, zoos, habitats, performance spaces, nature preserves... the list goes on! Do a quick google search to see what's nearby (don't forget the free ones!) and set some plans in motion.
- Household Chores. This may sound like a joke, but each time I "play cleanup" with the kiddos, they learn something new. Last week, my daughter and I had a whole conversation about why we have so many stinkin' pots and pans -- she didn't realize that different shapes and sizes could help make different kinds of food... and I learned that maybe I should clean out our cabinets more often... oops!
- Cook a meal together. Speaking of all those pots and pans, kids LOVE creating things in the kitchen. Yes, if we're being honest, clean-up is a real pain, but we're doing this for the CHILDREN, right?! (I'm really pulling at your OCD heartstrings here...)
- Go to a new store together. Sounds weird, but kids LOVE to explore stores outside your routine or go-to places. If you don't already, go check out places like HYVEE grocery, which will give kids free fruit so you can walk around, have a snack, and grab what you need for the week.
- Church night/Bible School. We LOVE our home church! If you're in my area, shoot me a message, and I'd love to send over the details. It really can change your social life if you'll take the time to get involved. Most even offer specialized children's programming for the summertime. Vacation Bible School is the perfect way for your kids to meet some new friends who might not go to their school, build their social skills, and learn more about the good book!
- Backyard Picnic. Complete with big comfy quilts, fun food, music, and bubbles. If it's not too hot, this can also easily transition into backyard camping - just add a tent and a fire, and you're in for a great night. Don't forget the s'mores!
- Barnes and Noble. Maybe it's cheesy to mention these stores you visit all the time, but we really love spending and hour or two just browsing at the local bookshop. Both chain stores and local bookstores often have extensive children's sections with toys and games. If you pop by B&N, you can even grab a Starbucks coffee and peruse your guilty pleasure magazine while your kids peruse. Oh, and check the summer schedule for story times!
- Popcorn and a Movie. Rainy summer days become special when you've got Netflix, an afternoon snack, and a pillow fort. If you're really great at building forts, maybe you can convince your husband that he's really good at the clean-up. ;)
- Learn how to budget. If you're like me, you really have to stick to a budget. To introduce your kiddos to this idea, you can let them have control over the "Family Fun" money. Let them decide what you all can do with a specific amount. Teach them that you can't go over your budget, and it has to be something that everyone would enjoy (always check groupon for low budget options).
- Evening walks. Get your steps in while spending time with the whole fam (we really love this one). Great exercise and lessons can be found along the way, plus it wears the kids out before bed!
- Go bowling -- FOR FREE. For real real. I'm not kidding. Check out kidsbowlfree.com
- Micheal's craft run. I know, I know... another store. But hear me out -- Your local Micheals (and other craft stores) do these special tutorials and craft days where you can take the kiddos and make something on-site. Often, they're also FREE!
- Wash the car. This one's a little odd, but my oldest has been dying to do this, and why not? Sometimes we forget what it's like being little and wishing we could do some of the things that grown-ups do. This is something that I never even thought about being fun, but we are going to have a BLAST washing the car next weekend. Who am I to deprive her? Next week: waxing.
- Volunteer. This one's pretty simple. Pick a charity or organization that's dear to your heart, and schedule a time to work there together. There's a lot to learn not only about the place you volunteer, but also the ideas of community, compassion, generosity, and so much more.
- Mani/Pedi Monday. This gives you a teaching moment with your little girly girls while also getting your very own (well deserved) D.I.Y. spa day.
Honestly, it doesn't take much to make your kids feel like they've had a special day. The hardest part is making the conscious decision to stay motivated.
Having a plan is so beneficial. Feel free to print or share this list, and add your own ideas! I plan to keep a rolling list on my fridge for easy access, and letting the kiddos add their ideas as well.
What are some of your ideas? I'm always looking for inspiration and suggestions that make life better, so send them my way!
But for now... screen time is over for Mrs. Siron.