Summertime can bring a variety of opportunities to connect with our children and enjoy new experiences together.
Here are three ways my family deepens our connections with one another during the summertime:
1) Start a Family Tradition
Creating traditions each summer, just as during other seasons and on holidays, can help children experience predictability and be a source of family bonding. You may want to bring some traditions from your own childhood into your family's summertime now.
In our family, summer traditions include baseball games, going to a carnival, visiting all the libraries in the county, and eating dinner outside. I admit that we didn't consciously set out to create these traditions: They just happened as we found things that our family enjoys going together in the summer.
2) Get Outside
I've found that my children seem to handle stress better when they can spend more time outside and just seem to be calmer.
There are so many opportunities to get outside in the summertime. Sometimes we stay near home and play in the backyard. Some of the fun activities we like to do outside is "painting" the deck with a bucketful of shaving cream and some paintbrushes, having a water fight with squirt bottles, searching for bugs, pretending to be bugs, doing messy art projects, and setting up an outdoor movie night.
Other days, we venture out for a hike or nature walk. I also like to visit different playgrounds. Sometimes, I climb the playground equipment along with my children; sometimes, when I'm craving self-care, I'll sit and enjoy a book in the fresh air while my children play.
3) Find Fun Activities, But Don't Force Them
A few years ago, I created a "summer wish list" of about 15 places to go or things to do during the summer. We didn't end up doing all of them, but it was helpful to have some plans and suggestions. Some of those activities became our traditions, while others were one-time outings.
It's important to remember that some summer plans may not work out as you hope. Sometimes, what seems like a great idea to us sounds boring to our children. For example, I've been trying to take my oldest son strawberry-picking since he loves strawberries and since it was something I loved as a child, but my son is simply not interested. Rather than forcing it, I find other activities he is interested in and focus on being present with him in whatever it is that we end up doing.
A note to parents: Remember that summertime activities are about strengthening your family connections. If the activity is stressful to you, not enjoyed by the kids, and/or not creating a good bonding experience, don't feel bad about scrapping it for something else!
I hope you are enjoying, exploring, experiencing, and connecting with your kids this summer.
What are your favorite summertime activities to do with your child? Is there an activity that just isn't jiving with your family that you need to let go of?