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6 Smart Ways to Embrace Summer Vacation

Whether you’re working or hanging out with your kids for the summer break, Mighty Mommy shares six smart  ways you can embrace your summer before things start to get too hot!

By
Cheryl Butler,
Episode #485
smart ways to spend summer vacation

4. Create a Vision Board

Each year, shortly before school lets out for the summer, my kids and I have always created a “Summer To Do List.” This has been a tradition of ours for over 15 years now. Each child and parent pick a few fun things we’d really like to do either, on an individual basis or as a family. I have more details of this in my episode 6 Ideas to Help Your Child Have the Best Summer Ever.

In addition to our highly anticipated “Summer To Do” list, there’s another creative project we started doing a couple of years ago that’s equally as fun—creating a vision board. Basically a vision board is a project that allows you to create a visual collection of things that excite you and inspire you and that you would like to attract into your life. These became all the rage when the law of attraction grabbed our attention after the movie The Secret was released several years ago.

Vision boards are a creative way to focus on some of your goals and dreams. There’s a wonderful youtube clip on how to create a vision board from one of my favorite authors, Jack Canfield.

You can adapt this project to your children’s ages and interests, and it’s also a great outlet for yourself as well. What I found so interesting about these vision boards is that I learned a lot of things about my kids I didn’t know before because of what they placed on their boards. For instance, one of my sons put photographs of guitars on his board. I learned that he had wanted to learn to play the guitar for a couple of years. That summer we rented a guitar for him, he learned to play, and now he’s part of a band.

5. Playdates After Work

During the school year we’re used to scheduling homework time, appointments, deadlines for projects, and all the after-school activities and practices that are a regular part of our September to June lifestyle.

With summer most of us don’t have as many rigid commitments and aren’t running around quite as much. The upside to all those scheduled times, however, is that I get to spend a lot more time with my kids because I’m shuttling them back and forth in the car. This may sound crazy, but truthfully it’s time I have with them that we have each other’s attention because we’re in a small confined space for a good chunk of time several times a week and we can chat, connect, and even problem solve.

Years ago, a good friend of mine turned me on to a way to spend time with my kids during vacation periods—scheduled playdates after work. Once a week we put a “date” on the calendar so we can do something fun like go out for ice cream, go bowling, or just take the dog to the park for a walk. These relaxed times provide just the change of pace you and your child need to de-stress and it’s something for both of you to look forward to. Most of my kids are in college or high school now, so we do something called “Take out Thursdays” where we choose a new restaurant and order take out and have dinner together, all of us, every Thursday no matter what.

6. Encourage Boredom

Finally, my best tip for embracing the lazy and sometimes long days of summer are to leave days on your calendar with absolutely nothing at all planned. In a recent podcast, 4 Great Reasons Boredom can Benefit Your Child, I received quite a few e-mails from listeners about how much they enjoyed and appreciated knowing that it’s absolutely fine to let your kids have unscheduled time where they fend for themselves.

Believe me, I spent many summers where I agonized over having enough creative projects planned for my kids so that they’d be enriched with clever activities and outings to keep them happy, busy, and most of all never bored. While that was great for them, I burned out in record time because it’s just not feasible to keep that type of momentum going for the sake of trying to avoid boredom.

Youth psychologist Janine Hubbard says that kids just aren’t getting bored as much any longer, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. She says: "Believe it or not, letting your kids be bored for at least some of the summer is probably one of the most important life lessons you can give them. Boredom helps encourage creativity. It helps encourage problem solving. It's how we learn to daydream. It's how we learn to navigate social situations."

So this summer be sure to keep a solid handful of free days on your calendar. You might be amazed at the variety of pretend play and other activities your kids will come up with all on their own.

How do you welcome the summer vacation months in your home? Share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT

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