Summer Break!

Do you remember the feeling you had on the last day of school when the anticipation of a summer filled with fun, friends, sleeping in and no homework, loomed over your head like a bubble about to explode?  I do; very distinctly.  There was almost a smell in the air that was different as I walked home on that last day with the full knowledge that responsibilities were a thing of the past and I was going to have carefree days ahead.  Accomplishment of another year completed was intoxicating.

I am a memory maker. I wholeheartedly believe that good memories are food for the soul and that they are what you can hold onto as the goodness in life when life isn't feeling so good.  I have a lot of these from my childhood because I was very blessed with a wonderful family.  The world wasn't as scary and I remember days of playing outside with my brother and our friends and coming home only after the street light turned on.  Those were the days! I wish that my son could encounter days like that but unfortunately our situation, although still blessed is different.   Kids nowadays cannot just play outside til the street light comes on because our world is a lot more dangerous.  Typically what summer means for a single parent home, is daycare and lots of it.  This causes increased expense and increased guilt that we are not able to be home with our children so they can experience the carefree days of summer like other children.  They still get up early with us, are rushed out the door to daycare, and spend the day in a routine with others in their situation then come home to a hurried dinner and finally get the relaxing moments before bed.  Vacations?  That isn't even an option most times with the added expense of full-day daycare.

Well all of that sounds pretty depressing but summer really doesn't have to be the day in and day out routine that we envision and presume will occur.  Here are some ideas to make your summer with your children special.

1) The night before you have a day off of work, have a sleepover party where they are allowed to invite one friend over for junk food, movies, and fun.

2) Create themed days with younger children.  For example, Monday's we will both wear blue.  Tuesdays, we will both eat the same lunch.  etc.

3) Text your older kids throughout the day letting them know how much you are thinking about them.  Tell jokes over text and give them motivation for having a great day.

4) Set aside one night a week to put all responsibility aside and have a dinner party.  The kids get to pick what is served and play word games throughout dinner.  (example: I spy something purple)

5) Leave notes to your kids throughout the entire house.  Pin them up on the mirrors, put them in pockets, back packs and lunches.  This will help them know that you are thinking of them.  I've even gone the extreme of decorating the house to liven up things.

6) If possible take a day off of work and make a big deal about it being "Family Fun Day".  Spend it with a picnic at the park, hiking, pool day, sprinkler fun...etc.  Do not be tempted to clean or do anything outside of FUN this day.  Keep the cell phone off.

7) Call them while they are at daycare to let them know you will have a special present for them when you pick them up.  Stop by the local dollar store and find something they will like that is inexpensive.

8) Play outside together when they are home.  Take a nature walk, or simply just enjoy time outside fully focused on them.

9) Make goals with them such as: "This summer we are going to read 1 book per (week) together." Build a chart to track the books read and celebrate in accomplishing those goals!

10) Finally and what I think is most important is to have one on one time with each of your kids every night.  Spend 10 minutes a piece at least and fully give them your attention for them to share how their day was (one good and one bad) and if they have anything that they wanted you to know about during their day.  Let them know at least one thing that came to your mind about them during your day so they are aware that you are thinking of them too.

School is out and summertime is here! Great memories are to be made!

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