Summer is what we, as Canadians, look forward to each year. After months of grey sludge and rain, we hold our breath for the days that we can finally be outside for an entire day. There are many outdoor festivals and vacations that are options but the day to day with kids can get a little tedious without any real ideas of how to fill the days. Here are a few options to keep your summer with your kids filled with wonder and good memories.
1. Grow a vegetable or herb garden together
Really get the kids involved in this so that they can learn the plant names and learn how each different kind of plant needs to be taken care of. This is an excellent way to keep them occupied and also slow them down a bit at the same time. Engage the kids creativity by asking them to design the labels that will identify where each plant is located. Buy your children their own gardening gloves and mini shovels to help them to feel that this is a very important job that they are part of. Let your kids plant the plants with you and ask them to check on them each day and make sure they have enough water. Weed the garden together and by all means, go with the flow and let their hands get dirty!
2. Find a corner in your house or backyard that can be their own
Bestow your kids with fun and creative building materials so that they can build a ''play time' corner that is all their own. This will promote independence and a wildly creative backdrop for their imaginations that are running at full speed. Ideas for fun materials could be: decorated cardboard boxes, streamers, wooden dowels, old clothes that can be ripped into long strands to hold up larger pieces of fabric, old food containers that can be painted or coloured and old bookshelves to hold books and fun finds that they find outside.
3. Go for a hike
This seems obvious to encourage physical activity, like hiking as a family, but don't stress over finding the latest and greatest outdoor space. There is a benefit to re-visit the same outdoor spaces to see how they change over the seasons. It also allows you to focus on the behaviour of local wildlife.
4. Check out your local beach
You don't need to travel far from home to enjoy a beach. Even if the beach is not completely accommodating for swimming or sandcastle building, it can do wonders for the soul to just walk along side large bodies of water. Feel the wind on your face and take many deep breaths. Beaches are great for children to explore and feel a bit of freedom but can also be quite meditative for the kids and parents alike.
5. Sunday dinners with your community
In this age of technology advancement, we are often kept far apart from each other. Reach out to your family, friends and neighbours and plan a rotating group dinner each Sunday. Everyone brings a dish or something as simple as a few pieces of fruit to cut up, set it all out on the table and gather. Emphasize the need to keep the dinners low maintenance and that the focus is just about gathering together each week and eating.
6. Savour the mornings
Somewhere over the years we have been led to believe that we are being more productive when we are rushing and filling our days as much as possible. Working parents can set the tone for their day and do their kids a service by teaching them to make the most of your mornings together. A few steps that can be taken to ensure this are: turn on some music and dance it out first thing in the morning, take a few deep breaths together, hug each morning, chat about what your plans are for the day, drink a large glass of water together and add to your nutrient intake for the day by boosting your water with your Progressive VegeGreens or Phytoberry powder.
7. Keep a family gratitude book
Bring the kids to the store to help you pick out your ''story book of gratitude'. End each night by asking each other what 3 things you were grateful for that day and write them down. Let the kids doodle on the page or talk through any of their points. This way we can focus on all of the tiny gratitudes of the day. It is also a great resource to flip through when anyone in the family is feeling down at any moment.
It's time to remember that simplicity, community and creativity are just as important for the health of our children as summer camps, vacations and expensive day trips can be.
Guest written by Marieke Nassara of Green Bean Wellness