Hindsight Parenting: Nothing Beats Planning for the Summer

Creative planning can maximize summer fun for kids

It’s that time again!  Although I look forward to it all year, I also DREAD it as well.  Summer!

Time spent with our children–Yippee!

Time spent with our children–UGH!

The dichotomy of feelings that come with school-free children are ones that many parents feel, including me…ESPECIALLY me.  Last year, I tried to head off the dread and doom by planning, planning, planning, searching, searching, searching for fun things to keep my preschooler occupied. I began this searching/planning process in May. It was a rousing success.  Summer with my posse of “things to do” went smoother, felt better, and was enjoyable.

So this year, I decided that summer would be an even bigger success and much less stressful if I started planning in January.  I have to say I am pretty pleased with this year’s summer ideas.  I have broken them down for you into three categories as shared on my Pinterest board:  Outdoor Activities, Rainy Day Activities, and Summer Day Trips.

Outdoor Activities

I don’t know about you but my mom-guilt gets the best of me if we’re inside on a beautiful day.  After this bone-chilling, snow-filled winter, I especially want to get out.  So I found lots and lots of projects and activities (fairly inexpensive) that should be done outside.  How about starting out your summer playing on a giant blob of water!  On a particularly hot day, why not try ice painting (with frozen tempera paint OR Kool Aid).  I am sure that chalk rockets will be a wonderful hit with my daughter, and I can’t wait to create the DIY soft hazy sprinkler and backyard KERPLUNK game!  Did you know that you can make an AMAZING marble race game out of a pool noodle?

Live on a quiet street?  Using sidewalk chalk turn it into an amazing “obstacle course!”  “Obstacle course?” you say.  Yes!  Like this:  Draw arrows in a circle and add the word “twirl”!  As you move down the street, have a box drawn with the words, “jump three times” above it.  Draw “cones” and have your child “weave” through them.  Get creative!  Draw a picture of a cat and have them “meow” until the next direction.  You get the idea!

Don’t live on a quiet street?  Then fill up your driveway!  All of the above are such creative ways to get your kids outside, but don’t forget the old standbys!  Go to the beach.  Take a hike.  Pack a picnic.  Map out and visit all the playgrounds you can by the end of summer.  If it’s nice, just get outside!  Be sure to check Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events for outdoor events and activities happening throughout western Massachusetts!

Rainy Days Inside

Alas there WILL be those days that are not suited for outside activities.  Rain and maybe even intense heat might make it so our little ones must stay inside.  Fear not!  There are a plethora of creative and easy ideas that a mom-who-needs-a-break can plan.

Start off with an ice volcano.  (Be sure to check the directions for some of these projects.  You may need to do a bit of work the night or a few hours before.)  This activity is sure to provide a mom at least enough time to say…put her feet up or drink herself a cool lemonade.  These bird and text collages are so easy and could veritably end up being pieces of art in your home somewhere.  Be sure to check this collage out.  The directions are so simple and it really could serve as a wonderful gift for someone as well.  Grab some golf tees, some styrofoam, a toy hammer and a sharpie and you have all the things you need to create a fun letter recognition and spelling game in which you challenge your little ones to hammer a golf tee on the letter or letters you ask them to find.  Not only is this game educational, but a great one to help our children develop fine motor skills.

(Moms of sons…look away for a bit.) If you are a mom of a daughter and have never visited Amightygirl.com, run (after reading this column, of course) and go check it out.  There are SOOO many things to do and see and glean for our daughters.  One thing you can find on the sight is the top 100 picture books that portray strong, intelligent and independent girls as the main characters.  I printed this list out and plan on visiting our local library to read as many of these as we can over the summer.  And speaking of our local library, if you haven’t checked out YOURS, I guarantee that they have an extremely full schedule of fun things to do which Hilltown Families highlights each week.  Nationwide, libraries have a reading initiative called “Fizz Boom” that we will take part in this summer among other fabulous scheduled activities. Other indoor activities this summer will include making lava lamps, a trip to a bowling alley, a good old fashioned dance party and standbys like cooking, baking, pillow fights and dress up.

Summer Day Trips

So we’re going to a national theme park very soon after school ends.  While that is extremely exciting, it leaves pretty much the whole summer without a trip.  Or does it?  Don’t ever think that a day trip can’t be as exciting for a kid, heck for a mom and dad, as a longer trip.  After all, a short day trip doesn’t come with all the hassles that come with an extended vacation.  Start in your backyard.   There are jewels there that you probably didn’t even know about. Right here on Hilltown Families is a Summer Bucket List of summer suggestions made by our readers filled with wonderful local and day trip ideas. Families in western Massachusetts can even find recommendations for beach day trips.

Closer to us in NY, Ila and I can’t wait to do some lazy river tubing designed for kids her age at Tubby Tubes in Lake Luzerne.  We also plan on checking out Natural Stone Bridges and Caves in Pottersville.  Both of these things I didn’t even know existed before checking out local websites like Hilltown Families.  For upstate New York ideas, check out lakegeorge.com!

Let’s face it, we all endeavor to give our kids the best summer experiences we can.  But we also endeavor to savor our downtime during the season as well.  By planning ahead and having a solid list of “go-to” activities, it will make our summer days so much more enjoyable.


Logan Fisher

Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s MotherhoodEye on EducationFaces, and Appleseed.  Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.

[Photo credit: (cc) downing.amanda]

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