Making the Most of Summer Vacation

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Well, summer vacation is almost upon us! My boys get out of school on the 5th and we are all so ready for no more homework, schedules, hundreds of papers to keep track of, etc. I honestly think I may enjoy summer vacation more now, as a mom, than I did when I was in school myself!

I don’t usually put a whole lot of thought into what our summer is going to look like. We do a lot of sleeping in and just hanging around the house and take a few camping trips, but that’s about it. This year though, I want it to be different. In fact, it’s going to be different whether I want it to or not.

See, my boys aren’t little anymore. We don’t have the luxury of a lazy summer vacation anymore. Gavin has a job now working on a farm and I’m sure that will interfere with his plans of sleeping in and lying around the house. Gavin and Riley also do the yardwork for Brian’s aunt, so they will have to go off a couple days a week to do that as well. Basically, we don’t have the carefree schedule of just doing what we want when we want. Blah. That’s life though, I guess. But it’s something I want to point out to those of you who still have young kids. Treasure the simplicity of having your summer vacations be whatever you want them to be and the freedom of being able to just pick up and go do whatever, whenever. Because once your kids get older and have jobs, that changes the feel for sure.

I’m not trying to be a downer, just being real about the situation. What this means for us this year is that if I want to be able to do fun things with the kids, it’s going to have to be a little more thought out and scheduled. We have some awesome camping trips scheduled for the summer. One over on the west side of the state for 10 days, one not too far from home for 4 days with a ton of family and of course, our 10 day church camp that we tend to go early to so that we can enjoy being up there for about 12 days or so. We want to plan a couple more trips close to home though too. Camping is our family’s favorite thing to do, and since we got a new trailer at the end of last summer, we want to use it a lot. I know we’ll have to plan a trip up to the river that we love to go to too.

Fortunately, the jobs my kids have are flexible enough that we can still do camping trips all together, but who knows how things will be next year, so I plan on soaking up the moments with my whole family together on vacations this summer. Just typing that makes me want to cry.

I guess my main reason for this post is to remind you to enjoy every moment of this time with your kids and family. Do special things together and create memories. Material things don’t last, memories do. Don’t buy your kids fancy video game consoles where they sit all summer in a room away from you and play games. That is such a waste of time, such a waste of life, such a waste of memories that are just waiting to be made! I cannot stress that enough! Now, I get that I am fortunate to not have to work in the summer and that Brian’s schedule allows us to be a little more flexible. I realize that a lot of parents work and don’t have a ton of time or money. But they sure as heck can use the time they do have to do something that will create memories with their kids. There are plenty of things to do that don’t cost much or even anything.

Here are a few ideas of things you can do to make the most of your summer vacation with your kids this year…

Check out local events, festivals, etc. Many of them are free and have a lot of things to see and do that don’t cost anything.

Check out hiking trails, bike paths, etc. and go for family walks and bike rides. Pack a lunch and sit and eat somewhere. It’s a great time without distractions (only one of you needs to carry a phone if you’re worried about emergency situations and you don’t need to take it out unless you’re taking pictures for family memories!).

Go to the beach! Pack a lunch and sunscreen and head off to the beach for the day with your family. Get in the water with your kids, even if just for a little bit. Even if you don’t love it, suck it up! Your kids will love seeing you be playful with them. That means the world to kids!

Grab a frisbee, wiffle balls and bats, etc. and head to a park and play! We fortunately have a nice big yard, so we have family wiffle ball games and play frisbee together quite a bit. The kids love it, we laugh like crazy and it’s great exercise. Simple, free and fun!

Have a friend or family member who has offered for you to use their pool? Make a simple snack to share and head over for a couple hours of swimming! (My sister just bought a new house with a big pool and I plan to definitely spend some time there this summer).

Go camping! It doesn’t have to be a long, elaborate trip. You can even just go overnight or for the weekend. Don’t have a tent? Borrow one or rent a cabin at a campground. Again, keep the cellphones and electronics put away and just enjoy time together as a family exploring, sitting around the campfire and having s’mores and talking, etc.

SPEND TIME TOGETHER AT HOME!!!! Play board games, watch a movie together, cook something together, do a puzzle, do some sort of craft or activity. Just do something TOGETHER!

Sit down and make a Summer Bucket List as a family. This is an excellent way of seeing what your kids would love to do, what interests them, etc. This also gives a great guideline of things to plan for or things to do when you get some extra time. If you have a list made, you can say “Hey, we’ve got some free time tomorrow, let’s do this off of our bucket list!” This will avoid just sitting around and wasting time that you could be using to make family memories!

I cannot stress this enough and this is where I’m going to go into a little bit of a rant because this makes me so angry and honestly makes me feel sick. PUT AWAY THE STUPID ELECTRONICS! I feel I have every right to “yell” about this because I’m yelling at myself too. This summer is going to be different in the fact that there are going to be designated “screen times” and otherwise the phones, ipad, laptop, video games etc. are going to be put away! There is no reason to spend your days all in the same house, yet completely separated from each other because you are all in your own little worlds, playing on some sort of electronic device. I am super guilty of this with the laptop and will be designating the time when the kids can have “screen time” to be my time to blog and mess around on the computer. I hate how much time I waste online and want to make the change for myself as well as my family. Our time together is so short and so valuable. I want my kids to remember their childhood and think of all of the fun times we had together, just being together. That’s kind of hard to make happen if everyone has their face in a screen all of the time. Parents, be parents and spend time with your children. Get off of the computers, phones, etc. Get your kids off of the video games, tv, and other electronic devices. You are wasting precious time and missing out on so much. Your kids need to be outside and reading and playing and exploring and doing things with you!

In going along with that, your kids don’t need to be attached to some sort of device when you are out either! You don’t need to appease your kids with a phone or ipad or something every time you are out somewhere to “keep them occupied” or “give them something to do”. Um, do you not remember that there was a time before all of these things and kids were expected to behave without being appeased with an electronic device? I can’t stand that! Also, your kids don’t need to be staring down at something in the car every time you go somewhere. Now, I’m not opposed at all to them playing stuff on super long trips and things like that, but if your ride is half an hour or less, why in the world do they need to spend it on some sort of device? Here’s an idea…TALK TO EACH OTHER! Crazy, I know. Spend the time in the car talking about things, looking at stuff outside, making plans for fun things you would like to do together, etc.

Our family time is being destroyed by abusing electronics. Don’t believe me? Look around at sporting events and see how many people are on phones. Look around at the park and see how many parents are looking down at phones while their kids are playing. Look at how many families have kids in separate rooms playing video games all day. It’s true and you know it and the only ones who can change it are us. Sadly, so many of our kids are so used to having these things that they throw a fit and are “bored” if they can’t be on them. That right there should be enough to show you there’s a problem. If your child can’t sit and behave without playing on something, there is a problem. It’s time for us to do this parenting thing right and limit our children’s use of these things! I’m so incredibly sick of it! Ok, rant over. That feels better. I’m serious though, it’s so terrible and destructive and such a thief of family interactions. It’s changing in my home and I hope it will in yours too.

Ok, moving on. LOL I want to make the most of this summer vacation with my boys and enjoy our time together as a family. These days are fleeting and we’ll never get them back, so we need to make the most of them. I wish I had taken in more seriously when people tried to tell me this when my boys were younger, but you just never seem to be able to see it that way until the time has passed. I’m making sure from here on out, that I enjoy every moment that we have to make memories together. I think I’m looking forward to this summer more than any of the others before. I’m going to be intentional about how we spend our time. This is a summer vacation for making memories that will last forever. For making memories that my boys will tell their kids about someday and that I hope will prompt them to want to make these kinds of memories with their own families when that time comes.

So let’s do it, friends. Let’s make the most of this summer vacation!

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