Summertime: Make it Count

In Louisiana Ladies, Teri Netterville by Lola Magazine

I saw a quote the other day that said, “Remember, you only have 18 summers with your kids and this is one of them, so make it count.” I’ve been through 20 summers with at least one, then two, and finally three children by my side looking up to me to help them make sweet summertime memories. Luckily for them, I grew up in a home where making memories was a priority.  Providing opportunities for memorable experiences was more important to my parents than just about anything else…even, many times, more important than money.

Is money needed to make happy memories?  Many times it is, but not all of the time. If you can be creative and resourceful, you can ensure that your children grow up only to look back and reflect upon their childhood summer days as some of the sweetest and most precious times of their lives with you. The most important ingredient is your time and your attention.Time management will become your greatest antidote for a calm spirit.  When you can figure out a way to manage your adult obligations, while offering your children you without the phone or computer in front of your face, you are giving them all they really want and need in their young world.

It’s about choices. And life is chalk-full of them. Look, I get it. As parents, our days are filled with obligations and responsibilities…those things we really don’t have a choice about.  However, you do have a choice in how to utilize your time to complete your tasks at hand. Here is what I know for sure: Deadlines and obligations will come and go throughout your life. And yes, those things are important, but hear me when I say this: There will come a time when your child/children are grown and no longer living under your roof and your main concern will not be whether or not you got every work deadline in on time.  Your concern will be, “Did my children know they were my greatest priority? My greatest loves?” “Did I put enough time and energy into making their childhood happy and full?” “Will their memories include me being fully invested and present in their lives or will they think back and remember me with my face in my phone or focused on my computer screen?”

It’s all about the choices you make right now. Here is an easy way to make this summer with your children fun and memorable, while getting your work done and without being completely frazzled. Make a summer bucket list! Sit down with your children and together make a long list of everything fun that you all hope to do and accomplish this summer. There must be rules in place, of course, especially for those of you who work from home or have obligations that must be tended to throughout the day. But only you know what those rules need to be for you and your family, so set those rules from the outset.

Smiling excitedly, say something like, “Okay guys, I think I have come up with a perfect plan for us! Even though you guys know that Mommy has to work from her computer each day for my job, everyone knows that my biggest and most favorite job in this world is being your mom!  Everybody knows that about me! That’s why I need you guys to help me with this perfect plan that I think will keep my bosses happy, but mostly will keep you guys and me happy and having fun this summer!” This intro allows them to first and foremost know that they are your top priority, not work.  Your job is important, but what is more important to you is them and being with them making fun summer memories together.

So, in order for you to be able to follow through with some fun summer experiences with them, they will need to also help you think of ways that they can stay busy while you get your work done. Next, pull out an actual bucket for your “Summer Bucket List”…or you can pull out a huge poster size chart that you’ve already made into a “Calendar of Summer Events” with the calendar days blank and ready to be filled in with fun ideas. If I were you, I’d actually go online and look up things like, “Fun ideas to make summer memories at home” or “Ways to create lasting family memories on a budget.” Or even Google something like “Fun summer events” in your hometown. You will have hundreds of wonderful ideas pop up on your screen for you to throw out to your children if they can’t think of anything for themselves in that moment!

This search will suggest things like:

Lemonade day:  The all-American fun experience of selling lemonade at your own front yard lemonade stand! And as with everything, if you want to make it more memorable for your children, you can decide to give the money to a local charity. Maybe even post about it on Facebook so that their friends can stop by for some yummy lemonade and to also contribute to your charity.

Indoor camping: set up a fun campsite in your own living room, using chairs and sheets to make your own tent.

Backyard camping and add miniature golf.

Water fun. There are a zillion ideas about how to have water fun in the backyard.

Science fun. There are also many, many ideas online that are age-appropriate, fun and interesting!

Pizza and movie day

Backyard picnic

Smore’s night

Bake something fun and different together. Maybe even wear chef hats and aprons.

Plant a garden together.

Paint planters and then go to your local nursery to buy whatever seeds your children wish to plant.

Have a scavenger hunt!

Indoor obstacle course. Using chairs and other household objects, build an obstacle course that they can crawl under, walk over, do a crab crawl through and so on.

Game day/or night. Allow them to pull out their favorite games.

A real dance party!

Write a book together!

There are also hundreds and hundreds of fun ideas to do away from your home just waiting for you guys to take advantage of! Sometimes we just can’t think of what to do in the moment. The internet and the people who share ideas online can be a beautiful and wonderful thing. For those of you who work 9-5 jobs and just simply cannot be there with your children during these summer months, it’s okay! Here’s a solution: Hire a sitter who will follow through with these fun and memorable experiences with your children. I did that with some children for a couple of summers and it was so much fun! That’s what it’s all about anyway, right? Providing fun, happy, sweet summertime memories for your babies.

My niece, Sunny, thought of a fun way to share in the summer fun with the girls she babysat. During the summer months, she labeled her time with them as, “Sunny Camp.” Even though she kept the girls during the school year when needed, the summer months became something extra special to the girls, simply by Sunny naming their time together as “Sunny Camp!” Sunny created a folder full of ideas that ranged from pool day, free museum tour day, create a play day, go to the zoo day, etc.  The girls could go through the folder and pick out an activity they wanted to do each day. They loved “Sunny Camp” and it was the perfect solution for their parents who wanted their girls to have the best summer memories ever, even though they couldn’t be there with them during the daytime hours.

Summers are so much fun, especially for the kids. They are away from school, have endless amounts of energy and want nothing more than having fun and staying occupied.  For parents, these memories will be among the most cherished times of our lives and will give us such satisfaction as our kids grow up and retell some of the fun summer memories that we all shared together. But in order to provide these times for our kids, we must put in a lot of work, time, effort and energy. My gosh, it can be exhausting, so it’s a good thing that it’s all worth it.  …Hey…just keepin’ it real.