I have a memory of fishing off the rocks near the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA with my arm around my dad and my other hand holding a soda pop. It was summer and I was nine years old. I don't remember fishing much. I just remember the day out with my dad. It was a simple day that gave me a lasting and good memory.
I want to help you get your fun bus back on the road. When summer is over, and your kids are back in school, I want you to have given your children fun filled memories. I want your kids to remember laughter, fun, and adventures. Your kids will enjoy their moments with you. Remember: Kids speak the language of Play.
To help you, I came up with this simple list to jumpstart the fun.
1. Popsicle Day. Help your children make homemade popsicles from orange juice, lemonade, strawberries, etc. Add little bits of fruit. Enjoy them in the backyard, park, or anywhere outside.
2. Go to the movies. Make it an event -popcorn, candy, soda, refills. My parents always let us sneak in a pack of Red Vines. Let going to the movies be a reward. Give your children a manageable chore. Keep the task simple, short, meaningful, and helpful to the family. I vividly remember my dad's best friend (Brent) having me and my brother stack firewood for an elderly lady. The reward was a trip to the movies to see Return of the Jedi. My brother and I stacked wood like little lumberjacks for two hours. Brent helped us the entire time. To this day, it is a great memory. The funny thing is that I don't remember much about the movie from that day. I remember the wood stacking. I remember how good it felt to work hard, get praise, and receive the reward.
3. Picnic lunch. No explanation needed. Get outside and eat.
4. Art Day. Finger paint, brush paint, any kind of paint. Paint rocks, scrap wood, paper, or canvas. Just let them be creative and transform something. My kids loved to paint with only water on a sidewalk and watch it evaporate.
5. Sprinkler Fun. Get out in the yard and run through the sprinklers. When our first child was three, we didn’t have a yard. I took her to the Junior High School when they were watering the football field. We played in these huge sprinklers. It was a lot of fun. Consider keeping an extra pair of swim suits in the car for these spontaneous moments. Your kids will always remember how you jumped out of the car and ran for the sprinklers.
6. Get to the pool. Swim as much as possible. Don't just watch them swim. Get in there with them. I am still swimming in the kitty pool. I am one of the few parents that do this. In my town, the pool is open 11:30a to 1:30p then again at 4p to 5:30p. We can go twice. Consider make it a double header. Trust me, your kids will be in bed early and you will enjoy some quiet time.