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5 Family Tips For The Best Summer Ever!

Updated: May 28

What springs to mind when you think about your summers as a child? Endless sunny days, playing the latest game craze with your friends or chasing the ice cream van down the road? We’ll have many fond memories and sometimes it can seem those days are lost to us forever. But they’re not gone, if we let ourselves get back to that carefree place again with our own families.

Young people may be growing up in a different, technology-driven, world but they will enjoy these simple pleasures just as much as we did once they are given the opportunity.

Here are our top 5 tips for creating a summer to remember:

1. Connecting as a family

Kids often yearn for connection with us, and for our attention. This is especially true during the busy school term when work, school and after school activities can seem like an unending grind. So, once the school term ends, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that your children won’t be young forever. Then make a promise to let yourself create time to connect with them as a family during the summer months, while they still want to. This may mean the odd missed dinner, later bedtimes, or untidy car or house, but kids will remember your time together much more than the state of your floors.

There are many ways to do this but here are a few easy suggestions:

· Take advantage of the longer days to fit an activity into your evenings after work. Something like a cycle, time in the playground or park, a kickaround or a stroll for an ice cream are great mid-week activities.

· Take advantage of the better weather to eat and hang out together outdoors when you can. This could be breakfast on the patio, BBQ’s, picnics in the garden or on the green, playing games in the garden or camping. Garden games like swing ball, tennis or badminton sets, or small pools and water pistols are all fun for the entire family.

· Create family traditions that are especially for summer. There are many options here, but ideas include cycling one of the many greenways around the country, beach days, hikes, fishing, swimming or paddling afternoons, rejuvenating the garden together, outdoor movie nights, star gazing, or going to festivals together.

Check out our Summer Bucket List for ideas to try as a family over the summer months.

2. Connection with friends

Kids love connection with their friends, especially as they enter their teens when their friends become their family. If you are planning an outing or activity with older kids, why not think about inviting a friend or similarly aged relative for the tween or teens to hang out with. Or make plans with another family with similarly aged kids and share the experience together. Outings to the beach, water park, adventure center, hiking, or cycling a greenway are perfect ideas.

Check out our Teen Bucket List for ideas particularly aimed at teen this summer. Why not print this out and stick it to the front of the fridge. You never know when they may take inspiration from it.

3. Create opportunity to laze around

Kids have very busy lives during school term, both physically and in their virtual worlds. So, they need time to laze around and rest on their holidays too. For tweens and teens especially, try to build in some chill out time when they can just lie about. You may find that planning activities for the afternoon works best.

Having a relaxing space in the garden for them to chill out while outdoors is important. Suggest they bring some music, snacks and a drink, and maybe even a book or magazine. You can find ideas for a teen chill out zone in your garden in our blog post 7 Steps To Creating A Child Friendly Garden.

4. Create opportunity for kids to challenge themselves

Summer offers space and opportunity for children to challenge themselves. They have time on their hands so it’s really a case of what they will do with it. Like most parents, ideally, we won’t want them stuck indoors on screens from morning until night. It’s a recipe for cranky kids and guilty parents. So, the best option is to have a few ideas up your sleeve for how they will spend their time:

Here are our suggestions:

· Bucket Lists – Use the Nature Days Summer Bucket List and Teen Bucket List to have ideas to hand when the inevitable happens and your child comes to you saying they’re bored.

o When at home, let your child pick something from the lists to try themselves.

o As a family, pick out some activities the kids would like to try over the summer and plan day trips and holidays around them.

You can find lots of the activities in the bucket lists in the Nature Days Activity Finder.

A Boredom Jar is also a nice idea. Sit down with your kids at the beginning of the summer and fill the jar with ideas for them to try over the summer. Tap into their interests and pop a few suggestions in there first to get the ball rolling. Often, kids struggle with the first idea but they can really take off once they get into it. You'll find lots of ideas for this on line too.

· Life Skills - Use summer to get kids to hone their life skills:

Set aside some time at the beginning of the summer holidays to list household chores and allocate them between the family in an age-appropriate way.

Older kids can help make snacks and meals for other family members too.

· Laundry

· Household chores

· Preparing food for themselves

· Doing shopping

· Helping maintain the house and garden

· Washing the car and watering the plants

· Helping elderly relatives or neighbors in their homes, gardens or with shopping.

· Older tweens and teens could do bob-a-job for relatives and neighbors.

· Try New Things – Use family holidays and day trips to give kids opportunities to challenge themselves and take supervised risks. This could be water sports, fairground rides, adventure centers, or whatever you find where you are. Encourage your children to take part and try new things, as it will help build their self-confidence and resilience.

This is especially the case when they are scared. Overcoming that fear to take part and complete the challenge is one of the most precious life lessons we can give to our kids. And it’s the perfect time for them to take risks, when they are with qualified instructors and in a safe environment.

· Try New Things - While at home, they can still challenge themselves in an age-appropriate way. Ideas include home baking, learning a new instrument, jewelry making and crafting, photography, home carpentry, learning to paint, gardening, learning new bike skills, teaching themselves skills in their favorite sport, board games, try new street games or writing outdoors.

Check out our Teenagers and Young People area for tips on keeping older kids going this summer.

5. Boredom isn’t all bad

Finally, remember boredom isn’t all bad. It is actually very important that children get used to being alone with themselves and being left to their own devices.

Screen time can become a source of friction in many homes, especially during the holidays. With this in mind, nominating set screen periods during the day can be helpful. Create a clear agreement about what is acceptable screen time in your family each day and set out the consequences for breaching this agreement. You can expect push back at times, but this often comes with the territory with the older age groups.

A nice counterbalance to this push back is to create opportunities for positive consequences for the kids too. You might award extra privileges for when kids complete their weekly chores, adhere to the family screen time agreement, or have positive behavior within the family etc.

Boredom isn’t bad for our kids so stop berating yourself for it. It may actually be helping their development more than you ever realized. Check out this excellent article below on why boredom benefits children.

The benefits of boredom, from the Child Mind Institute

If you like our latest article, please share with your friends and family. You can find more tips, motivation and Nature based content on our social media pages on Facebook and Instagram, including our weekly nature inspired Activity Of The Week.

And remember to check out our Activity Finder for a treasure trove of simple, free, outdoor activities to keep kids content this summer.

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