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Parenting in the summer looks a lot different than it does in the other months of the year.
In fact, authors Shari Medini and Karissa Tunis of Adore Them Parenting, have a whole book, Parenting While Working From Home: A Monthly Guide to Help Parents Balance Their Careers, Connect with Their Kids, and Establish Their Inner Strength, dedicated to each month of parenting. Check it out.
Whether you are a teacher off for the summer, working from home, a stay at home parent, or a parent going into the office, summer has a whole new vibe to it even if your kids are too young to be "off in the summer." The days are longer, more people are outside, and the workload of the other months seems to die down once Memorial Day hits.
For that reason, I like to create a theme of the day for each day of the week, so the hot summer days don't drag on. Although I know that there occasionally will be days when things pop up like vacation, family visits, and unavoidable appointments, I try to stick to this schedule throughout the whole summer.
Kids like predictable routines. They thrive off it, so when they know what's coming they are more likely to cooperate and have better behavior. You can even create a schedule in Canva for each day of the week and show to your kids the night before.
You can do a theme for all seven days of the week or just stick to the 5 days during the week and let the weekends be a free for all. You can double up on some days because you really enjoy one particular theme. Whatever you do, it's okay! The idea behind the themes is to be low stress and change things up.
Since my son is younger and still naps, we usually follow a morning routine, including my own morning routine, of breakfast, play, snack, walk/run, playground, and lunch before his nap and then hit up the theme in the afternoon. But whatever works for you is the way to go.
For your older kids, get their input and ideas for summer themes for the week. Need help with some suggestions? I have 7 ideas below that I have/will be using with my son this summer.
1. Water Day
Water day is a kid favorite. It's exactly as it sounds. On this day, we are going to do an activity that involves water. Here are some ideas for the day:
2. Art Day
On this day, expect to get messy. Plan ahead by having mats, towels, or cardboard boxes to put down on the floor and a bucket of water to scrub up afterwards. Head to art store to get some inspiration and here are some art ideas too:
3. Museum Day
Beat the heat and get indoors on Museum Day. Head to a local museum and let your kids wander around. Better if it's free. Some places to go:
4. Home Day
Home day is a day to catch up on things around the house or just lounge around. Some ideas on Home Day:
It's a day where your kids might get more screen than normal and everyone might stay in his or her pajamas all day. No guilt allowed on this day.
Get your kids involved in the chores too. For a list of age appropriate chores click here.
5. Library Day
Another way to stay cool is to go to the local library. Besides having a number of books to read, the library has a lot of programs to entertain kids throughout the summer. Check them out!
Can't leave the house? Create library day at home by
6. Cooking Day
A fun way to spend an afternoon is by adorning an apron and whipping up your favorite dish in the kitchen with the help of your kids.
Before beginning, lower your expectations and then lower them some more. Remember cooking day is all about having fun and teaching your kids some basic cooking skills like measuring, mixing, and stirring.
Head here to check out some kid friendly recipes.
7. Park Day
This is a theme you might want to do in the morning to avoid the afternoon scorcher. It's as simple as it sounds. Head to a park on this day. If you live in a big city, you can choose a new park each week.
At the park, delight in the walking trails, toss around a frisbee, or have a picnic. In my opinion, parks are some of the best things cities have to offer.
Other activities to do:
I hope these ideas can you some inspiration to begin the Theme of Day for those dog days of summer.
Since doing the day of the theme, I get excited for the next day instead of lamenting on what I am going to do all day. I am thrilled for you to join the Theme of the Day club!
As always leave a comment below if you have any questions! And continue dreaming up those themes.
You work all day in the kitchen to whip up a gourmet dinner for your family. You are excited. They will surely love it. You envision everyone sitting around the time, chatting and laughing, as the clank of dishes and bowls being passed around the table fills the air. It's something out of a sitcom.
Then, reality sets in and your dream of the perfect family dinner fades into the distance as your delicious meal is only greeted with silence and one word answers. Your kids sneak glances at their phones and scarf down their food in a rush to hole themselves up in their rooms for the rest of the evening. Even your husband slyly manages to turn on the TV.
If this is you or eerily similar, you might feel defeated and teetering on the brink of canceling family dinners from now on. I mean, why not? Everything else is canceled nowadays anyway.
But stop, take a deep breath, and read on.
Research has shown that family dinners are crucial to your children.
They decrease stress, open up communication, build self-esteem, and promote good eating habits.
Family dinners are some of my most fond memories of my childhood. Growing up, my parents made sure we had dinner together almost every night of the week, and on Sundays we all went over to my grandparents for a large family dinner with my cousins, aunts, and uncles. The values of those dinner times are still instilled into me to this day.
But I get it? With all the distractions and entertainment readily available at our fingertips, family dinners are dull in comparison.
However, I have 8 ideas to increase engagement on how to have lively conversations with your kids at family meals. These tips especially ring true for your older kids (preteens and teens). Trust me. I teach high school students.
For tips on eating with toddlers, click here.
1. Do a Draft
I first heard of these drafts on the Bobby Bones Show. They are wildly entertaining. I have done it with friends, family, and my high school students. The verdict? They love it and have fun. No one was on his phone.
How to play?
Pro Tip: Announce the topic for the draft the night before, so everyone has all day to think about it. This will get the game moving faster.
This game is a great warm-up at the beginning of class. Instead of asking "How are you doing," and hearing a mumbled response of the trite answer, "Good," I ask a more specific question.
"What was a high or best of your weekend? And what was a low or worst of your weekend."
Parents at family dinner time can adapt this to be the best or worst of the day. Everyone takes turns going. Expand upon responses.
I think you'll be surprised at the different types of responses and openness you'll get just by rephrasing "How was your day" to this new question.
3. Would You Rather
I never tire of Would You Rathers. I always think they are hilarious or thought-provoking. Teenagers, from my experience, typically agree.
Browse the internet for a premade list and go to town firing these off. Allow time for your family to expand on their responses about why they chose their answers. Hopefully, you'll gain some insights into your children's thoughts and behaviors.
Pro Tip: Debate this one - Would you rather get a million dollars with the one stipulation that for the rest of your life you will always get red lights or not get a million dollars but always have green lights?
For me? I choose the green lights. Time is money!
4. Easy Trivia
Another Bobby Bones game, easy trivia is sure to get a few laughs and awaken everyone's inner competitiveness.
Again, the internet is the place to go to print off some questions. Go around the table and ask away. If you get it wrong, you're out. Keep score. First one to five is the ultimate winner and gets a prize. New pair of shoes perhaps?
5. Humans of New York
One of my favorite sites is Humans of New York. The stories are generally uplifting, thought provoking, and very interesting. The photographer and writer, Brandon, really capture the essence of the diversity of the human spirit.
Pick one of these stories and read it during family dinner. Discuss it afterwards. Everyone can take a turn picking a story from the website and being the reader.
Pro tip: The inner teacher in me also suggests that you should prepare a couple of discussion questions to get the conversation rolling.
6. Read a Book
In similar fashion, pick a book to read to the family. My dad did this when I was a teenager, and I just remember laughing so hard. My family still quotes a line from the book. "The meatloaf will have to wait."
Pick a high interest-low reading level book for an easy read that flows throughout the meal. I have a complete list found here.
7. Pick a Place to Travel
I'll never forget the educational placemats my parents bought for us growing up. I think they instilled my brother's and my love for geography at such a young age. We had detailed maps of every country.
Buy some of these placemats and have each member of the family pick a place for your next family vacation. Even if you never go on the trip, just planning, dreaming, and talking about a trip can boost happiness. Check out some of my favorite places to travel.
Pro Tip: Close your eyes and hover your finger back and forth over the world map, when someone says, "Stop," place your finger on the first place. That will be your next travel destination. Fingers crossed for New Zealand.
8. Take Quizzes
I love quizzes, even all the cheesy Buzzfeed ones. I have also found that high school kids love them too.
Find a couple of these quizzes and take turns taking them and comparing the results.
Some quizzes to consider:
I hope these suggestions sparked a desire to either start family dinners or ramp them up a notch. Let me know in the comments what ones worked for you or any new ideas you tried with your family!