Summer is The Mama Bird Diaries blogger Kelcey Kintner's favorite season (after all, one of her children shares her name with it!). Her four children, Dylan, 7, Summer, 5, and 20-month-old twins Chase and Harlowe keep this Mama Bird on her toes, and though the kids' schedules don't always merge in the summer, she likes to keep things flexible and fun. Here, Kintner tells us how she plans activities to "maximize joy and minimize whining" and why you should think twice about overfeeding your baby on the plane.
What are some of the challenges you face when school's out for summer?
My kids are around. A lot. The challenge is to keep some structure so everyone can stay sane while also enjoying the flexibility of summer.
How does your family schedule change in the summer?
It's just more laid back. We spend a lot of time outside. My older girls love to swim so we spend as much time as possible at the pool. In the summer, I feel like the days aren't long enough. There is so much to do.
What is your best tip for parents on making the most of summer break?
Don't over schedule your kids. Summer is supposed to be about unstructured play, running through sprinklers and eating snow cones.
What are some of your favorite summer activities?
Something outside that we will all enjoy. I'm always reading local websites and trying to find out about fun things going on in the summer. [We also like] going to the pool, visiting local nature centers, the beach, playgrounds, visiting a local duck pond, the zoo, grilling dinner on the deck and walking downtown to get ice cream. Sometimes we go exploring in the woods, or set up a lemonade stand. This list is really making me wish it were summer.
What are some rainy day summer activities you do with your kids?
Art projects, watching old movies like "Singing in the Rain" or of course, the Justin Bieber movie, baking brownies, dancing like crazy to our favorite songs on the iPod.
Do you send your kids to camp?
I send my kids to day camp. I look for something that is affordable, creative and fun. Did I mention affordable? It is the best bargain ever. Dylan did mention something last year about seeing "Seinfeld" on a rainy day but then said she might be confused. It could have been a scary dinosaur movie. So she either learned about Jerry and Elaine or prehistoric animals.
What are some tips you can give our readers about how to travel with kids?
Keep your expectations low.
Don't fly at your child's naptime and just assume he or she will sleep on the plane. You will likely end up traveling with a very cranky kid. If possible, have a well-rested child.
Bring a DVD player. Have endless entertainment available on long trips.
Pack lots of special yummy snacks.
If you have a toddler, bring a Sit and Stroll (one of those cool strollers that turns into a car seat on the plane).
What's the most important thing you learned while traveling with children?
When I first flew with my baby, I gave her two bottles of milk during take off because I thought this would help her ears. Well, she threw up all over the guy sitting next to me. It was very embarrassing. He smelled so bad that I wanted to switch seats. Luckily, he was the nicest guy in the world. So my recommendation is that if you are traveling with a baby this summer, don't overfeed the baby and bring lots of changes of clothes. My daughter was in a t-shirt and a diaper by the time I got off that plane!
Kelcey Kintner has worked in the White House, been a TV reporter and anchor, and driven three hours in Montana just to find sushi, but nothing has tested her quite like motherhood. She blogs about her family life regularly at The Mama Bird Diaries. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.
Photo used with permission from Kelcey Kintner.