Summer as an adult may not mean much to most of us, only hotter days where work still has to be done—and bills still have to be paid.
But, if we think back to what summer meant to us as children, we might be able to unlock a little of that magic for ourselves again.
Remember when summer was a portal to adventure? Remember when hot days meant ice cream cones and splashing in a pool? Those days were filled with possibility—and they still could be.
As a parent, it can be easy to let the normal frustrations of life smother that sense of magic. So often I find myself impatient with my kids for their exuberance and high spirits, and yet, I find as they grow older, I long to have that time back—to cherish each age and stage just a little more.
We miss so many of the little moments working and cleaning and doing all the things that make up our daily lives, and yet our love for them is no less fierce.
Our time with them is precious, so we must learn to use it to create memories now, rather than waiting for an ideal time. We can remind ourselves of the magic of summertime and make it a point to give our kids the best summer adventure possible.
Here are a few ideas to get us started:
>> Work on a screen-free day each week. We all have shows and movies that entertain and delight us, but we need to remember the importance of spending time together without distraction. A screen-free day can give us the opportunity to find our entertainment in being together and doing fun things as a family.
>> Find ways to laugh together. As a parent, I make it a point to laugh with my kids daily. That might mean being silly, playing, tickling, or even watching something funny.
>> Have a regular family game night. Sure, video games would work if that’s what you’re into, but nothing beats a good old-fashioned board game. Parcheesi, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Pictionary, Taboo, Cranium, A Game of Things, Ticket to Ride, Scrabble…I could go on. There are so many wonderful games out there to make family game night fantastic! Throw in card games from Poker to Uno to Phase 10. Just have fun!
>> Make exercising as a family fun. It doesn’t have to be jumping jacks and sit-ups. Go for a walk or hike, swim together, or play a sport. Visit an indoor rock-climbing wall or a trampoline park. We can do something fun that also helps us be healthy together.
>> Go camping. Put up a tent, make s’mores, and tell ghost stories around a campfire.
>> Go fishing. Throw a line into the water, if that’s your thing. Or, just sit in a boat and enjoy nature and family time.
>> Enjoy an outdoor movie night at home, in the community, or at a drive-in.
>> We can even fight with our family. Wait—what? Yes, fight. But I mean with water balloons or nerf guns, water guns, or pillows. Plan a date and time, and everyone can prepare for an epic battle all in good fun.
>> Host a family Olympics in your own backyard.
>> Have backyard, or local park, game time. Try a real-life version of Hungry Hungry Hippos, set up a giant Jenga set, or play Twister on the lawn. If that’s a bit too wild for you, there’s always horseshoes, croquet, volleyball, frisbee, and badminton.
>> Allow each family member to suggest outings of interest. Have a banana split night with all the toppings!
>> Do an art project together. Build a fairy cottage using a dried gourd and whatever else can be found in nature. Take a painting class together. Let the creative juices flow—get messy!
>> Be tourists in your hometown. Visit places of interest. View the place you live through the eyes of a tourist looking to be entertained and delighted.
>> Have a scavenger hunt. If you enjoy garage sales or antiquing, interest the whole family by coming up with a scavenger hunt list and prizes to engage all. These lists can be fun and vastly entertaining when you get creative with it.
>> Cook or bake together. Pick a theme and make it together. Taco Tuesdays, homemade pizza, cookie-palooza. Whatever your theme, do it together. Your meals or treats could be shared with community helpers—firefighters, nurses, police officers, postal workers—or people in need.
>> Volunteer together. This, like exercise, doesn’t have to be boring. Volunteer at an animal shelter to walk dogs. Wash cars to raise money for a worthy cause. Find something the family is passionate about and make it a group effort.
>> Go on a picnic. Pack a delicious picnic lunch—think beyond simple sandwiches—and head to a local park or other scenic area. Spread out a blanket and enjoy a delicious picnic outdoors. Too hot to eat outside? Consider an evening picnic under the stars instead.
>> Visit area waterfalls. Hike to local waterfalls and make a day of it. Play in the water, picnic on the trail, and have a nature scavenger hunt along the way.
>> Enjoy bedtime stories together. Read to little ones or simply have family reading time. Talk about what you’re reading and why you like it. Read excerpts aloud if you like.
>> Hide sweet and encouraging notes for family members to find as they go about their day.
>> Say thank you often and sincerely whenever possible. A fun summer can also be a thankful one!
>> Enjoy rainy days rather than bemoaning them! Forget the mess, and head out to play in the rain. Stomp in puddles, go for a walk in the rain, or, if water is not your thing, stay inside and make a fun day of it with art projects, movies, games, and more.
>> Go fly a kite. Literally. Take a kite out on a windy day. You can make your own.
>> Learn something new together. Have you always wanted to scuba dive? Or learn Italian? Do you have an interest in horseback riding? Whatever the interest, try something new as a family.
>> Make it a point to take day trips. Get a map and circle a reasonable driving radius. Read about cities you find on the map and plan day trips to see local sites.
>> Visit a water park or theme park. Enjoy the summer with a sense of pure fun.
>> Visit a zoo, aquarium, or agri-tourism site to learn about animals, nature, and conservancy efforts in your state.
>> Plant and care for a garden as a family. Have fun growing flowers, food, or herbs together.
There are so many ways to enjoy the summer—the possibilities are endless.
Sure, we have busy lives and busy schedules, but we can make time to fit in a little fun. Trade a traditional dinner at home during the week for an evening picnic under the stars. Instead of a wasted day in front of the television when stuck inside on a rainy day, make it a point to create a sense of fun. Declare theme meals or theme nights to give regular evenings a little more excitement.
We all have the same amount of hours in a day, and I get tired of looking back and seeing them wasted when I could have been enjoying family time.
Let’s make this summer adventure one for the books by letting a little of that magic in again.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Lieselle Davidson