Such happy faces to check out one of mom's interests!
Summer has officially begun! As a parent, by the time the end of the school year rolls around, I'm excited and ready for a break. But then I realize I've got an entire season to keep my kids entertained. While I've written before about how to come up with a balanced schedule for the kids, I think parents often forget to include themselves in summer plans.
You need to work yourself back in! Summer can be a great time to expose kids to new interests by showing them what you like to do yourself. And doing things together helps create great new memories and a more complete family experience. I write in my new book, Banish Boredom: Activities to Do with Kids That You'll Actually Enjoy, about the importance of parents considering their own personalities and interests when coming up with family activities. Here are my top five tips to get started!
1. Work on creating a Summer Bucket List together. Bucket lists don't need to be elaborate. Spend some time talking about the things everyone wants to include and make sure to add your own interests that you can share with the kids. For example, I always include whatever exhibit is at a favorite modern art museum of mine.
2. Schedule downtime together. Some of our best family time comes from simply hanging out together. Make time to talk about your day with your kids -- share something new you learned, an idea you came up with that day, or a problem they could help work through.
3. Come up with a family research project. Every summer we pick a country (usually somewhere we are visiting) and each family member picks a few topics that interest them to research. Working on a shared project, while allowing for everyone to explore their own particular area of interest, is a wonderful way to bring everyone together. If you're not interested in a particular place, try picking a general area of study (e.g., art, science, period of history) and letting everyone find their own part to research.
4. Take turns! As much as we like to think the world revolves around our precious kiddos, it doesn't. And having them try a favorite parent activity they might not be that interested in initially helps kids learn that not everything is about them. On the flip side, especially in this age of technology, parents (me included!) are constantly trying to split their attention between their kids and other obligations. Put the phone down a bit and really participate in an interest of your child for a minute.
5. Protect alone time. Even if you have no childcare in the summer, make sure to protect a little bit of time for yourself. Everyone needs some time by themselves to recharge, including parents! Some days that means I get up early and go for a run, others it means I ask the kids to occupy themselves for 15 minutes so I can sit quietly in the backyard. Find whatever works for you and let the kids know you need that time to help be your best self with them.