Submitted by Danny Grubb
It's summer time and the heat, humidity and thousands of gangs of school kids on summer vacation sure make the prospect of sitting in your air conditioned home watching TV seem very appealing.
Well I'm here to tell you to GET OFF YOUR ASS!
Summer is the traditional season for spending time with your family. In fact, it is your job as a parent to spend so much quality time with your kids that they will be thrilled to go back to school just to get away from you. I'm sorry, but watching television doesn't count as quality family time, especially not during Summer. You must go outside.
Don't worry, I don't expect you to think of things to do all on your own. You can steal any of the ideas below and take complete credit for them. We won't tell.
Just because your kids are home doesn't mean they should spend their time just playing video games and watching cartoons.
You can find summer reading lists for all ages on the Internet, in libraries, or even in your kid's backpack. I'm sure they just "forgot" to show you the summer reading list from school. Don't be too hard on them.
If your kids aren't keen on this idea, a little bribery never hurt. How much is it worth to you to have your children quietly expanding their minds in their rooms? My guess is a bodily appendage from the non-dominant side of your body would be a good trade off... but ask your kids if they'll take money instead.
2. National Parks
This country is home to some of the most beautiful landscape on the planet. National Parks are a very popular summer destination, but if you do choose to go, do your homework first.
Call the park and ask about must-see places within the park and when the best (least crowded) times to visit these places is. When it comes to travel of any kind there is no such thing as "inside information." All the good info is freely available as long as you call in advance.
Try to find some good local parks as well for some daily fun in the sun.
3. Family Gardening
Not everyone has a backyard, but a balcony, open window or even a terrarium (for the windowless apartment dwellers) can help to create the illusion of nature in your life.
If you are lucky enough to have some outdoor space to put at least a planter box, a quick call to your local nursery will give you a short list of relatively easy plants you can grow in your area/climate. Offer this menu to your kids and let them help decide what makes it into the dirt.
On top of getting some yummy veggies fresh from the garden, your children will learn how to care for plants and about your backyard ecosystem (or how your plants will be eaten by bugs).
If the idea of going to the local swimming pool doesn't appeal to you, try and find a local lake with a swimming area. If your child does not yet know how to swim, summer time is a great time to start. Most local pools will have year-round swimming classes available for kids.
It's summer time. That means that even the messiest of crafts are possible... outside. Think of the satisfaction of cleaning up a mess with a garden hose instead of a broom and mop. This site isn't a good place for craft ideas, but Chasing Cheerios is (a seriously awesome blog... go check it out).
6. Charitable Giving
Give your kids an inspiring speech about helping their fellow human beings. Fresh off the speech, when they are still motivated, take them through every room of the house and ask them to help you find items to donate.
If done correctly you should be able to declutter/clean your home and fill a good portion of a donation truck in a weekend.
There are many ways to volunteer. From collecting old sneakers from family members and sending them to Africa to participating in a park cleanup. You will likely be able to find many local non-profits and volunteer organizations that would be more than happy to make use of your and your offspring.
8. Photo Safari
If you're anything like my family you'll have a couple of old cameras lying around the house. If your kids are old enough to handle a camera responsibly you can have a great time going on a photo safari to a local park or attraction.
To make it more fun, make a shot list for your kids. For instance, you can create a shot list with a range of colors for your kids to find. Just make sure that your kids are courteous when taking photos of other people.
Do you have an idea on how to keep a family busy during the summer? Please share it in the comments!