For many moms, and for Sellabit Mum blogger Tracy Morrison, planning for summer means starting in February! With three girls (ages 9, 7, and 2 ½) whose personalities vary from the nurturer to the giggler to the cruise director/nightclub act, finding variety and avoiding the "I'm bored" comments can be a challenge. Here, she shares with Care.com her strategies for embracing those lazy (but fun!) summer days.
What were your childhood summers like?
My childhood summers were so long ago that they were during the days when kids just roamed free. My parents worked, so I remember just being home and hanging out with my brother and the neighborhood kids. We would ride our bikes to the pool and just play with friends all day.
I did go to Church camps for several years. I loved camp. I loved the independence of going away without my parents. I loved meeting new kids. I still find myself singing the songs I learned at those camps when I was only 10 or 11 years old. I also may remember sneaking into the boys' side of the camp for a quick first kiss. Those types of memories stick with you for life.
How early do you start planning for summer?
Our area has summer camp and activity guides that usually come out in February, and the good ones (camps) always sell-out quickly.
How does your family schedule change in the summer?
I stay at home and work from home so I'm here to transport them to activities and camps. We have a lot of downtime during the summer also. Sometimes it's nice to just hang at home and play with the neighbors.
What are some of the challenges you face when school's out for summer?
Avoiding the typical "I'm bored" comments. Making sure there is a good mix of scheduled activities and then just fun unscheduled time. Also, we go through A LOT more food in the summer; the kitchen seems to turn into a non-stop buffet.
What are some of your go-to summer activities?
We usually join the pool so we swim a lot. We love a picnic at least once a week and we try to take our picnics at a new park each time. We love family bike rides, playing tennis, going to the playground, swimming in one of the area lakes, and spending an afternoon running through the sprinkler. There are also great free outdoor concerts in our area.
What are some rainy day summer activities you do with your kids?
We usually plan for a few art projects we want to do over the summer and do lots of baking. A rainy day is also a great day to hit a local museum or go to the library.
Find more rainy day activities »
Do you send your kids to camp?
They have only attended day camps thus far. We found them through word of mouth recommendations and summer program guides. We are sending Eloise to her first sleep-away camp this summer.
Do you have goals for your kids for the summer?
We do have a "reading rule" that everyone must read for 10-15 minutes per day during the summer. We also usually brush-up on some grade-appropriate math work once a week.
What is your best tip for parents on making the most of summer break?
Don't over schedule yourself or your kids. Some of my best memories of summer were just enjoying those lazy days - a popsicle on the front steps, a picnic at a lake, playing hide and go seek with my neighbors. I really try to maintain a good balance between schedule time and downtime. Kids work so hard at school all year that sometimes summer can just really be a welcome break from being on the go. Cherish it.
Tracy Morrison had a high level, awesome paying corporate marketing job - but decided one day she'd had enough and never looked back. She started blogging in 2008 after she realized her kids never laughed at her jokes and she needed a new audience. She found that audience -- and you can join them -- at http://www.sellabitmum.com/. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.
Photo used with permission from Tracy Morrison.