Every summer it seems to happen. We build momentum to the end of school, celebrate a great year and the new beginnings yet to come, and then we make all sorts of plans.
Classic summer fun always makes the list, such as a trip to a state park or to a local museum. The girls always vote/beg for a visit to a not-so-far-away theme park. Also on the list: festivals, summer reading, movies, ice cream dates, camps and swimming as much as possible.
Then somewhere a week (or month) into break, I discover that instead of making the most of every minute, our family of four is in front of the TV, letting the days waste away.
I would never find myself in this sort of predicament on a vacation trip to another part of the country. In fact, I spend weeks and even months planning where we will stay, places we will visit, even restaurants where we will dine on vacations. I’d like to suggest that if you don’t have travel plans for this summer (or maybe even if you do), you should make your staycation plans in the same fashion.
Don’t just let the lazy, hazy days of summer slip up and then slip by you. No, this is a summer to remember. When school begins again in the fall (or late July), you’ll know that you did it all and made amazing memories.
Whether you’re plotting the entire summer or just one week of concerted fun, you need to do your homework. The very best way to know what’s going on is to hit the web. Visit the websites of the convention and visitor’s association for your town or a nearby city, don’t forget to see what’s going on at your local library, and of course check the calendars on your city’s website. From free workshops to fireworks, parades, festivals, you may be surprised at all of the options you have.
When you recall magical summers of the past, many of your memories probably find their setting in the great outdoors. From romping on the playground to hitting the trail, there’s much to be seen and done during the summer months. Whether you hit the park just down the street from your house or opt to drive 30 minutes to an hour to visit a state or national park, you won’t be disappointed. Pack a lovely picnic and enjoy a meal in the shade of a shelter. Better yet, build a bucket list of a number of parks you’d like to visit during June and July and cross each one off after logging a visit.
Do your research and plot some specifics. Where will you have lunch? Which trails will you trek? Are there local restaurants nearby that will give you a chance to have a quick snack and cool off from the summer sun? Everyone is sure to sleep well after a long day at the park.
Maybe you identify more with my husband. His idea of camping out involves roughing it at a Holiday Inn. If you don’t love the idea of sleeping outside on the ground, consider bringing that experience indoors. Pitch a tent in the middle of the living room and let the kids enjoy a camping experience minus a leaky roof in the middle of the night. Make s’mores in the oven, sing a few camp songs, open the windows and listen to the sounds of summer.
You also could flip family movie night, pulling it off the couch and projecting your favorite flick on a sheet outside. Spread out a blanket and pop some popcorn. You can actually turn your iPhone or other smart phone into a projector with the magic of science, a shoebox, and about one dollar’s worth of supplies. For directions, head to http://content.photojojo.com/diy/turn-your-phone-into-a-photo-projector-for-1.
No matter how you choose to spend your summer, make a plan. Write specific dates on the calendar. Let each family member choose a special outing. Drink plenty of lemonade, swing on the swing set, build your own ice cream sundaes and invest in your family and friends this year. Magical memories don’t have to come with a high price tag, but they do require careful planning on your part. Summer is just a season. Don’t miss it!