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Believe it or not, Summer Break is coming to an end fast!
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or you work full time, if you have school-age kiddos, you know the differences that come with Summer Break. For working moms like me, the differences between the school year and summer vacation are smaller than most stay-at-home moms but an adjustment, none the less.
- Dropping my son off somewhere other than his super close school (he goes to an in-home daycare in the summer)
- NOT having to make his school lunch each morning, since lunch is provided at daycare
- Letting him stay up just a bit later on week nights
- No homework or projects to stress over
- An overall more relaxed vibe and dynamic within the household
Now, while I can’t speak for stay-at-home mommas, as I’m not one, I can imagine their summer vs. school year differences would look something like this:
- Going from having the kids gone all day to home all day. (Obviously this is huge!)
- The ability to take the kids out during the weekdays for fun activities.
- Suddenly having to serve lunch to the kids 7 days a week, instead of 5!
- So. Many. More. Groceries! We can all imagine how many more groceries have to be kept in the house when there are tiny snack monsters there every day!
- Having to drag the kids along for grocery trips, doctor appointments, and all the other errands normally ran during the school day.
Whatever the differences are in your household, they are definitely there and definitely an adjustment each year. Once we get into the swing of summer break, it can be easy to let the days fly by without realizing how truly fast they go. I recently read something somewhere that stuck with me in a major way and made me think about how we spend our summers and what we do during these months. The post I read was something along these lines:
“You Only Have 18 Summers With Your Kids.
This Is One of Them.”
Um… Whoa. If that isn’t a huge wake up call, I don’t know what is. Now, this post stated 18 summers but I don’t really count the summers before the kids start school. When your kids aren’t old enough for school yet, your routine isn’t really affected as much by the school year schedule. If you are a stay-at-home mom then you have your non-school-age kiddos with you all of the time anyway and if you are a working parent, it’s likely your young ones are in daycare year round anyway, without much change.
Because of this, I view it more like 13 summers (including kindergarten) that we have with our kids before they head off to college or careers and start their adult lives. To be honest, I was completely shaken by this realization but also extremely pleased to have come to it when my son is only in his first, true summer vacation from school. He just completed Kindergarten and will be starting 1st grade in the fall! This being said, 13 summer breaks is NOT a lot and we are already more than halfway through 1 of them!
I have decided that every summer must count…
When you think about the fact that you only have this limited number of summer breaks with your kids, it makes you want to create memories, experience life, and give them the best childhood possible. When I think back on my childhood memories, most of them occurred in the summer months. During the school year we were always busy with school and sports and various clubs or extra curricular activities. The times that we took family trips to the lake or spent a day at the local zoo or played in the creek behind our house for hours…these were all during the summer months. As a mom, I have a couple of priorities. One of them is raising a kind, loving, intelligent, and strong-minded child. The other one is giving him a childhood that he can look back on years down the road and feel lucky to have the memories that he has.
Where we live, school starts the third week in August.
I know, it feels like school JUST ended but truthfully, we will all be shopping for school supplies before we know it. Summer break is quickly coming to a close and there are so many of us who need to make a point to really make the most of these weeks we have left! So, without further ado, I am going to give you guys my 5 Must Do’s before your kids go back to school and we all get back to that weekly grind.
5 Things You Must Do Before Summer Break Ends
1. Take A Family Picnic
This may seem like something small but if you have never taken the kids on a true picnic, it’s a must! Even if you have done a picnic before, you can always find new and exciting ways to make the experience new again. This is one that is on my immediate list to do in the coming weeks, on a weekend probably. Since I work full-time during the week, I pack as much fun as I can into our weekends. If you are a SAHM, this is a GREAT activity for a weekday when parks and shady trees are less crowded.
Don’t go lazy on your picnic though. A true picnic isn’t driving through and grabbing a happy meal that you eat at a picnic table near the playground. Most of us have done that at one time or another. This needs to be a true, authentic, family picnic. Pack the biggest blanket you can find, make sandwiches, bring crackers and cheese or any snacks your kids love, pack something fun for dessert, and don’t forget the cold drinks! Find the biggest shady tree your can and setup right underneath it.
As cute as the classic style picnic baskets are, insulated is truly the way to go in most climates. I don’t know about you but I like my drinks cold and my desserts un-melted! I found this AMAZING picnic style backpack that I absolutely adore. This is literally the reason we pack up and adventure out for picnics now. Everything is included and so convenient. This picnic backpack includes a full silverware set for 4 people, 4 plates, 4 plastic wine glasses (kids can feel fancy with their juice!), 4 washable napkins, a cutting board, a matching blanket, and even more!
I absolutely love one-stop-shop items like this but I wasn’t about to drop a heavy hunk of change on something I won’t use for a good part of the year. That’s the best part of this… it was under $40!! Also, since I have Amazon Prime, I ordered it and got it in 2 days!
(If you don’t have Prime, you can sign up for a 30 day trial right here!)
Avoid The Playground This Time
Sometimes it is nice and convenient to be next to a playground but in this instance, you might want to go to the other side of the park. This will give the kids a chance to really focus on the picnic and the family time without begging to run off and play. Bring along a Frisbee or a couple of other easily portable outdoor toys for some fun family time after you eat.
Getting the kids outside of the house, away from the tv and iPad and video games… all without spending any extra money? This is fantastic way to break up the week with a fun little activity that the kids are sure to remember and enjoy!
2. Tie-Dye Shirts
Okay, this is definitely not something my mom ever did with us as kids but I have no idea why! It can be incredibly easy or more involved and detailed, depending on your crafty-mom level and your level of patience! Most local craft stores actually sell tie-dye kits these days that include all of your supplies in one convenient purchase. Sometimes they will include a couple of t-shirts but I find it to be easier to just go to a craft store (Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc) or Wal-Mart and get some of their cheap $2-$3 t-shirts!
What I did, and what I will suggest to you, is this One Step Tie-Dye Kit. It includes 18 colors in easy squeeze bottles for application! There is also a guide with it that shows you how to do some of the coolest designs, gloves and bands. Everything you need is here, besides shirts! It’s super affordable too, so that’s a plus.
Not only is this a fun outdoor activity for the summer, this is also a great way to teach kids that making something of their own can be very fun and rewarding. They will have a craft that they can be proud to wear and show off, knowing they put in the work to make it!
3. Amusement Park
If you have an amusement park in your city (most of us do) it is definitely worth a full-day adventure! You can typically find discounts on tickets either through the park’s website or at many local grocery stores. Even if your kiddos are young and not quite roller coaster lovers yet, all amusement parks have kids areas! Often times, these “tiny towns” or “kid corners” are the best part of the entire park. They tend to be the least crowded, cleanest, and most exciting place for the little ones to experience some serious summer fun!
Some of my fondest childhood memories involve going to Six Flags regularly during the summer months. Whether it was the entire family or I went with a friend’s family, it was always a staple activity during summers in the Midwest. Nowadays, many large amusement parks have water parks attached, so you can get in two fun parks in one day! (Typically, your main gate ticket price is all you pay for entrance to both the amusement park AND the water park.)
Even if your closest amusement park is an hour away, get the kids up and packed up nice and early and get a full day of fun in. The kids will be sure to sleep on the ride home!
Pro-Tip: Food at amusement parks can be on the extremely high side. Check the info
for your park before you head out. Some let you bring in food, but even if they don’t, they
will all let you leave and come back in with a simple hand stamp. We always pack lunch
and snacks in a cooler and just head out to the car mid-day to grab the food and find a
4. Take A Trip!
Listen, I know this can be a tough one. Some of us don’t EVER take family vacations. Whether it be work or financial reasons that hold us back, we have to find a way to make these memories with our kids! A vacation doesn’t have to be a week-long, include an expensive flight across the country, or include a pricey hotel stay!
If you can afford a trip but just work too much to get away, take a weekend. Leave Friday evening and come back Sunday! Go to a fun town a few hours away, just to get away from the daily routine.
Does a family trip sound great but there is no way you can afford a pricey hotel stay and a ton of dinners out? That is so many of us these days! Ever think about taking the family camping? You can do a tent, find a campground with affordable cabins, or even borrow an rv or pop-up camper from family or friends! The best part about camping is getting the kids outside and away from electronics. There is something so monumental about letting your kids roast their own hot-dogs over a campfire for dinner. If you want to read some of my favorite family camping tips and tricks, check them out right here!
5. Clean Out The Kid’s Closets!
Okay, maybe this one isn’t as fun as some of the others but it will feel SO much better when you go back-to-school clothes shopping and come home to a dresser and closet that actually have space for things! To add to that, it can be so frustrating to tell your kids to go get dressed and have them return in an outfit from 2 years ago that doesn’t fit AT ALL. I know I am guilty of slacking on rotating out his clothes as he grows; it just happens so fast!
Pick a day and make a game of it! Let the kids play “dress-up” by trying on clothes that you’re unsure of. Grab a big plastic tub (I love these ones!) and place EVERYTHING that doesn’t fit and can’t be worn by a younger sibling into the tub. If there is a kiddo to pass the clothing onto, put these in a separate tub and label it with the size and season of the clothes you’re putting in it.
Once you have gone through all of the clothes and gathered up anything that can’t be worn anymore, take the kids with you to drop it off at a local thrift shop! This is a FANTASTIC lesson for kids that while things may not fit us anymore, there are so many people who could use our older, lightly worn clothes. If you can find the time (and motivation), try going through the toys to. Ask your kids to place anything they would be alright with giving to someone less fortunate in a tub. We always try to find thrift shops/local churches that give these items away to those in need for free or an extremely low-cost!
There you have it. My list of 5 things you have to make an effort to do before summer break ends this year. While I am sure you can come up with so many more fun activities to do, location-dependent, these are some suggestions for things that will build up your kids! They’ll also strengthen your family bond, create a learning experience, and build memories for a lifetime.
I hope that however you’re spending your summer break, you’re living it to the fullest and enjoying every moment with your sweet babies.
What are some of your favorite memories from your childhood summers? Do you have other ideas for things we should all do with our kids before the end of summer? I’d love to hear from you!