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Summer is Short: Play Hard

Melissa Roja Lawlor
Feb. 28, 2012

Things I Can't Say blogger shares her survival tips for summer as part of the Care.com Interview Series

Summer words of wisdom? Don't watch the clock, says blogger Shell, who writes about life with her family of five over at Things I Can't Say. Between the pool, the beach, the park, and camps, Shell keeps her family on their toes. And while those summer months with three outgoing boys (ages 7, 5 and 3) can be crazy, Shell reminds us that it's also a time to relax and use the heat as an excuse to have ice cream for dinner.

What were your childhood summers like?

My childhood summers were spent playing around the neighborhood: riding bikes, roaming the woods, in and out of neighbors' houses, reading in the backyard, and swimming. I didn't go away to summer camp until I was in high school. I loved the freedom of it, even though I was freezing cold (summer on Lake Michigan) and eaten by bugs.

How early do you start planning for summer?

I think it's important to start looking at the summer schedule at least 2-3 months in advance. Camps/activities fill up early!

How does your family schedule change in the summer?

Our mornings are much lazier. There is no rush to be out the door for school. Even when we have camp or swim/soccer lessons, they generally start later in the mornings than school does. We are also much more lax about bedtime.

What are some of the challenges you face when school's out for summer?

Trying to keep three very active little boys busy is my biggest challenge. They want to be on the go. Also, with brothers, there's a tendency to fight if they have too much togetherness.

What are some of your go-to summer activities?

We go to the pool several times a week and the beach at least once a week. Visiting different parks is a hit. Day camps help fill the time, too.

What are some great free (or semi-free) activities to do with your kids during the summer and how do you find them?

We try to find as many free activities as we can! We also try to make sure that we take turns doing activities that focus on what each of our boys most like to do. We check the paper, the library, and ask friends for suggestions for new activities.

The park and the beach are two huge ones for us. We use the outdoor pool at our gym, too, which is no additional charge since we are already paying for the membership to work out. Many churches do not charge for their Vacation Bible Schools and my boys love going to those.

What are some rainy day summer activities you do with your kids?

We'll do craft projects, play video games, or make an at-home movie theater.

Do you send your kids to camp? How did you find your child's camp and what was important to you?

We only do day camps at this age. My boys call Vacation Bible School "camp." This summer, they are also doing a sports camp or two. I look at how age-appropriate it is, who runs the camp, cost, and if my children would enjoy it.

Do you have goals for your kids for the summer?

Reading every day is so important. Even if it's just a few minutes. And if it's possible to get outside, we go!

What are some tips you can give our readers about how to travel with kids?

We drive when we go on trips. Having snacks, drinks, games, videos, blankets, and pillows gets us through. We also like to start our drive after dinnertime so that the kids will sleep through most of the trip.

What is your best tip for parents on making the most of summer break?

Realize that summer will go by so quickly. It's a time to relax and do things you wouldn't at other times of the year. Don't watch the clock as much, let the small things go, and know that it's okay to use the heat as an excuse to have ice cream for dinner.

Former Yankee turned Southerner Shell spills all in her candid blog, Things I Can't Say. The mother of three uses her blog as her own place to say what she wants, and "everything you read is always completely me: open, honest, and real." You can also connect with Shell on Twitter and Facebook.

Get more tips and ideas for summer activities in the Care.com Interview Series: Summer Survival »

Photo used with permission from Shell.

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