For most families with school age children, the school year is within days of being over. That means summer will officially begin. I well remember those years. The anticipation of summer was peaking and moms everywhere were both excited to wrap up another school year, and also anxious about the upcoming months of summer.
The best way to handle the dog days of summer — especially if you have young children — is to have a plan. If you have been too busy to think about a plan, and that is totally understandable with all of the demands the month of May presents, I’ve got you covered.
If you have young children, the library is a great resource for summer activities. There is the summer reading program plus numerous weekly activities. You can also create your own book club for your family. I remember re-reading many classics such as Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass.” I also loved re-reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s popular “Little House on the Prairie” series with our daughters. It was a great way to encourage reading, and we had so many fun discussions. You can also read the books aloud together.
Create a daily schedule. Sure summer usually means a less rigid schedule, but not having a plan can often lead to bored and cranky little people. Make a simple schedule such as going to the pool in the morning, the library or park in the afternoon and playtime with friends in the late afternoon.
Factor in some school work. Set aside time every day, or at least a few times a week, for your children to do summer reading as well as review school-related material. You don’t want all of their hard work during the school year to be diminished during the summer months. Create a reward chart to track your children’s progress — a trip to the ice cream shop or a movie are always welcome reward trips.
Plan some day trips. We are lucky to live in a county where there is plenty to do during the hot months of summer. In addition, we are close enough to Atlanta to take advantage of their offerings as well. Whether you plan on heading to Lake Lanier or down to the aquarium in Atlanta, there are plenty of options for taking day trips around town.
Encourage new hobbies. Summer is the perfect time to help your children try some new hobbies. Whether it is teaching your daughter how to sew, or helping your son put together a model spaceship, summer is a great time to take advantage of having extra down time to learn something new.
Explore nature. There are so many fantastic parks, rivers and mountains close by, be sure to take advantage of the great outdoors this summer. Pack a picnic lunch, bring plenty of water and make a day out of it.
Clean out your closets. Summer is a great time to help your children clean out their closets and rooms. During the school year, schedules are usually so busy the clutter tends to pile up. Help your children go through their rooms and decide what can be organized and what should be given away. Take the time to go through closets to decide what clothes should be donated or passed down to a younger sibling, relative or friend.
If you want to get a jump start on the upcoming school year, start a list of what you know your child will need this fall.
Plant a garden. It is not too late to get your children into the wonders of gardening. When our four children were young, we used to give each one a little plot of their own to plant a few things and tend to them. You can also do this with containers. Your children will be amazed to see their plants growing — and eventually producing plants they can eat. Just remember most vegetables need at least six hours of good sunshine to grow.
Have family cooking nights. If you have never made pizza together as a family, summer is the perfect time to start a new tradition. We have fond memories of making pizza as a family. Make a big batch of dough — I always used my bread machine for this task and let everybody make their own pie. You can even grill the pizzas.
Even if you haven’t thought much about the upcoming summer months, take a few minutes this week to map out your strategy. You and your children are sure to enjoy the summer even more when you have a plan. Happy summer vacation.
South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.