Summer is officially here…my kids are finally out of school. They had to go until almost the very end of June because of all those snow days this winter. But now what…
Lucky for me I don’t have to entertain my oldest any longer. He’s got a job and his own life, which doesn’t include me very often. I remember being 17, seems like just yesterday, but in reality it was quite a while ago. Now, instead of him asking me to do things, I’m on the begging side – trying to make every idea seem like the ultimate experience. As you may have guessed, he doesn’t fall for it very often!
My daughter is going to her preschool this summer. She loves it and is learning so many new things each day I can’t bear to take her out too often. Although I do have some things planned for her that will involve a day or two away from school.
However, this is the summer of dreams for my middle son. Matt is 12 and is at a perfect age to do really fun stuff and is actually still into doing them! He does have a few summer camps and has All-Star baseball practices and games, which we’ll have to work around but I’ve got some great ways to keep him entertained this year.
To begin this great summer, we decided to start it off right…seeing the sunrise at the beach on the first day of summer vacation. Well, technically it was the second day…my husband needed to take care of the baby while we were doing this and he was traveling for business on the first day, but it still counts in my book as the first day…
After a little research, we found out the sun would rise at 5:35 am. We live about an hour from the beach so taking everything into consideration we would have to wake up around 4:00 am. Did I mention this was mainly my idea?? Matt was a trooper though, he still wanted in on the adventure!
On the day of, we woke up at the designated time. Here are a couple pictures (not so pretty). In the first one, we are not faking sleep; we couldn’t keep our eyes open with the flash. In fact, we had to take about four more to get to the second one with our eyes open…very weird.
We drove, parked, grabbed our blankets, put on our jackets (keeping in mind it’s always a bit cooler near the water) and were sitting on the beach at 5:30. What did we see…yep, clouds! No biggie though, we made the best of it. And, it was even more exciting when we could actually make out the outline of the sun.
We only stayed about 30 minutes and then we were off for a good breakfast; unfortunately most places in the area were still closed. Again, no problem, we decided to drive most of the way home and stop on the way. Of course, I did have to stop at a rest stop and catch a few “zzzs”. I hate driving when I’m even a little tired! But the rest of the drive we talked about all the fun things we wanted to do this summer and the things we wanted to accomplish, just another bonding opportunity!
We had breakfast at a great Jersey diner and made our way home. We had a really fun time and although it didn’t work out quite as I’d hoped, we made the most of it and created a great memory, maybe even a new tradition.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan for your fun summer with your kids:
New is good: Don’t be afraid to try something new (even if it means getting up at an ungodly hour). Your kids might balk at first but don’t back down, they’ll appreciate it in the end.
Fun is better: Find ways to infuse fun into the event. For example, Matt and I could have brought a ball and had a catch on the beach too, I could have packed food and we could have had breakfast on the beach (your kids will think this is totally cool because it’s something you probably haven’t done), we could have drawn pictures of the sunrise as we watched it. All fun things to make a possible “boring” event into something they’ll love.
Traditions of the past are the future: Look to create new traditions, things kids will remember fondly as they grow older. For example, we usually go see the fireworks at our local high school on July 4. It’s not that big of a deal (although the show is spectacular, really- the best I’ve seen), it’s a quick walk from our house with a few chairs scattered on the football field, and then the fireworks. However, this year my son did a whole school project on our tradition of going to the fireworks, how he loves it, and how much it means to him. Don’t underestimate the power of traditions, even the small ones.
Ask, listen, and talk: Take opportunities during the fun to talk with them. Ask them questions and listen to the answers. For us, the drive to the beach took some time, we could have just listened to music but instead we talked about a lot of things: the sunrise, the planets, the atmosphere, having a summer job, the value of money, and of course, all the other cool plans we have. It’s the perfect time to understand the way they think and let them understand how you think.
Plan well but don’t dwell: Plan things you all will enjoy too. If you’re having fun, they are having fun. The most important thing…keep your expectations in check. If things don’t go as planned, it’s okay. It may be even more fun, you never know unless you let your guard down and go with it.