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How to Enjoy Summer Vacation Without Losing Your Mind, Part 2

The new Mighty Mommy has 5 more expert tips on how to keep your kids happy and busy during their summer vacation, without losing your sanity.

By
Cheryl Butler,
July 15, 2012
Episode #189

How to Enjoy Summer Vacation Without Losing Your Mind, Part 2

by Cheryl Butler

In Part 1 of this series, I gave you 5 tips to surviving your kids’ summer vacation without losing your sanity. When you have a moment, check out ideas 1-5.

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And today, I’ve got 5 more ways to have a lot more fun in the sun during summer vacation:

Tip #6: Practice Random Acts of Summer Kindness

Last summer, a single mom of two young boys in our community was scheduled to have hip surgery and would be off her feet for nearly a month. Summer camp was not an option due to finances so she was in a bind to keep her two little guys occupied while she healed. We organized a group of high-school students to take turns watching the boys and a few moms actually spent the night to help care for her while she was just out of the hospital. She was super grateful and the boys had a fantastic summer. This experience inspired a new family tradition of giving. This summer we are going to help out at a local animal shelter. Not only does this give the kids something to do, but it also teaches them the importance of random acts of kindness and community service.

Tip #7: Host a Kid Swap

One thing that other parents might find comforting during the long weeks of summer is that they’re not alone! As much as we all adore our kids, by the time August hits, we’re sometimes hanging on by a measly thread. If you know other families with kids that are about the same ages as yours, you might suggest a “kid swap” every few weeks. One afternoon you send your kids to their friend’s home so you can have some free time, and then you return the favor the following week. If you find a handful of families to participate, this can be a fun, free way to amuse the kids and give you time and freedom to run errands, or simply stay home, soak in a luxurious bubble bath, and read a book uninterrupted!

Tip #8: Don’t Leave Summer Reading Until the Last Minute

It likely that your children received suggested summer reading lists from school (unless of course, they’re too young). One of the first things we do in our house each summer is get the books on the list from the library, the bookstore, or from friends to make sure everyone has the recommended books on hand for the first week of vacation. I used to wait until August and wound up paying dearly for my delay. Either we couldn’t find the books we needed, or one of my kids would undoubtedly not start reading until a couple of nights before heading back to school. 

Schedule in regular reading time during the week right from the get go. If reports need to be completed, see to it that those are done immediately after the book is finished. This sounds so simple but for many families it can be a nightmare. Be sure and let your kids see you reading this summer, too. If they see you enjoying a good book, they are much more likely to follow suit.

Tip #9: Embrace Different Cultures

During the school year we are focused on schedules, studying, homework, and other such commitments, and there isn’t a lot of free time to explore anything extra. Summer is the perfect time to change all that and learn about something completely new and different for the sheer enjoyment of it, not because we have to. My family is going to shake things up this summer by embracing different cultures. One way to do that is by preparing meals from around the world. Each member of the family got to choose a country (for a total of 10), and throughout the summer, we’re going to create a complete meal from each of these countries, ranging from Cuba to Germany. During each dinner, the person who chose the country will share some interesting facts about the culture of that country with the family. We’re looking forward to this tasty new experience and hope to add some new dishes to our family favorites for the fall.               

Tip #10:  Establish Regular Quiet Time

If you think you have to entertain your kids all day long during summer vacation, I hope you’ll pay close attention to this tip: Establish regular quiet time for every member of the family, every day of the week. It’s really quite simple—allot a certain amount of down time for you and your kids every day. Setting the timer is one way to get your kids used to this unscheduled time, especially if they are younger. Even if you only take 15-20 minutes every afternoon and simply retreat to your bedrooms with a book to read, the idea is to teach your kids to settle down and learn to spend some quality time alone. This way, you can all finish out the day a bit more refreshed, and more importantly, the kids will learn to rely on themselves to stay occupied once in a while so you don’t have to be their constant source of entertainment.

Believe it or not, summer vacations really do go by much too quickly. So if you can implement some of the strategies I just shared, you will help your family ease into a relaxing summer mode rather than a stressful one. Here’s to the best summer ever!

If you have a question or have a suggestion for a future Mighty Mommy episode, please e-mail me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com.    Check out the Mighty Mommy Facebook page where I share lots of quick parenting tips all week long.   You can also follow me on Twitter @MightyMommy or join Mighty Mommy on Pinterest.com where you can visit all of my family-friendly boards.

Enjoy a wonderful summer with your family and as always—Happy Parenting!

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