Make it a summer they’ll remember—with messy projects, good books and plenty of downtime.
When you’re a kid, there’s nothing quite as thrilling as the first day of summer vacation: three whole months (give or take) of white space on the calendar sprawled out ahead, and no school, homework or teachers in sight. Vow to make the most of these fleeting months with your kids by adopting a few (or all six) of these rules of summer. They’ve waited all year for this—let’s make it awesome.
1. I will keep schedules and spaces simple.
Too much stuff, whether it’s physical clutter or schedule clutter, saps our energy. Set the stage for a simpler summer by keeping some open space in the family schedule and in the home. If you feel inspired to do so, spend a day early in the summer clearing away excess clutter and taking it to a local donation center—your kids may not thank you, but they will notice the difference nonetheless.
2. I will remember that boredom is often a prerequisite for creativity.
Whines of “I’m bored!” are no parent’s favorite thing, but if you can endure the complaints without giving in to the demand (for screen time, naturally), chances are the kiddos will find something creative to make or do. Play forts, lemonade stands, DIY board games and homemade comic books—you might be surprised at what your “bored” kids come up with!
3. I will take it outside.
One of my favorite things about summer is that anything you can do inside is almost always better done outside. So whether your child is into reading, chalk drawing, craft projects, Lego building or tea parties, bring it all outdoors and enjoy your activity in the fresh air. Just be sure you have enough shade and that everyone stays hydrated.
4. I will let beach gear stand in as decor.
If boogie boards and surfboards are regular features in your house, don’t fight them—use them. Leaning against a wall, these props of summer make cheerfully beachy decor (and you’ll always know right where they are).
5. I will encourage reading in bed.
Speaking of reading, staying up late to read by the beam of a flashlight is an indelible memory for lots of grown-ups. Give your kids the opportunity to make their own memories of reading magic by stocking bedtime baskets with their favorite books plus a headlamp—it’s more practical to use than a flashlight but no less fun.
6. I will keep my sense of humor.
The beginning of summer is full of good intentions: We will be more laid-back, more creative, more organized, more fun! But of course, as with any time of year, there will be sibling fights that last all day, lost library books and crayon marks on the walls. At times like these, the best practice is to take a deep breath (or 50) and then imagine yourself in the future, when you can transform what feels like utter disaster (permanent marker on new white bedspreads, anyone?) into just another classic story from your little ones’ growing-up years.