Character is the key

As I write this piece, it is mid May. I think ahead to the end of the school year – only 33 school days to go – and realize that I still some planning to do in preparation for the summer months. Hey, aren’t summers supposed to be relaxing, unplanned and a time for reflection? Time to laze around, contemplate life and spend the day in pyjamas. However, too much of that can be boring too. I try not to schedule too tightly within the first week of summer holidays. I know that it’s tempting to see the doctor, dentist and specialist with the kids, but give them and yourself a break. If you’re a working parent, any chance you can take a few days vacation with them during the first week of July? Just hang out, enjoy simple activities in the backyard or local water park. Or if you’re all feeling particularly energetic, maybe venture a little further afield to play tourist in your own town. After the first week or two at home, I find that most children start to complain about being bored. So used to the structure of school and the social interaction with their peers, they may tire of a less structured schedule. Although I don’t believe in programming your children for the entire summer holidays, unless you work full time and have no other choice, I do believe that children benefit from some consistent daily scheduling at camp or other program for at least half the summer months. Since we’re planning time as a family during the month of July, I didn’t enroll our kids in any structured program for that month.

However, we did research several day camps for August. Since neither of our daughters has attended the camp we ultimately chose, we decided on a two week option as opposed to the four weeks. Two weeks of day camp is a good way of weaning them into the experience and gives them just enough time to experience enough aspects of camp to know if its what they’d like to continue with the following year. There are a multitude of camps to choose from – day and overnight, community camps and family run camps that have been operating for decades. Do lots of research prior to picking a camp as each has different options for kids. Make sure that the camper/counselor ratio is comfortable and safe and visit the camp before the children attend, if possible.

After camp ends, the kids will have about three weeks before the start of the school year in September. Although I haven’t planned those weeks, I’m sure they’ll want to hang out with friends and go on day adventures.

Summer is a great time to re bond as a family. It’s the time that most parents choose to take their vacations from work. If you’re like most parents, it’s often best to plan time away from the house with the kids. When you’re at home with dishes, laundry and cleaning to do, it’s challenging to really connect with your kids in a way that you might like. You don’t have to plan expensive trips if you’re on a limited budget. Camping as a family can be a great experience. With no television or video games (other than the hand held ones which you may want to leave in the car), parents and kids can actually chat. Card and board games, reading, hopscotch and other simple games can be enjoyed.

If you’re going on a trip that requires a lot of driving, it’s best to plan activities ahead of time. Although I don’t believe in having a permanent DVD player in the car I do subscribe to a portable DVD player being used during long car rides. Once you’ve found a solution to whose seat it should be placed in front of, a couple of movies can be a great way to lessen bickering in the car between kids. Aside from movies, there are a great assortment of car games to play such as the simple count the number of cows along the way to thinking of all the things we eat beginning with an R.

Although the summer months are long, spent wisely they can be a time for rejuvenation for the children, yourself and the family. Enjoy.