By Michelle Mady
The summer can be a time of joy in a child’s life. There are extra hours of daylight, friends are out and about in the neighborhood, and everyone is around to have a good time. There are family get-togethers, barbecues, s’more and vacations. Families go camping, to the beach, to the pool or find new hiking paths. Ice cream becomes an option on the dinner menu, and life is just a little sweeter. That is, until the temperature rises. Those 90 degree days are wonderful the first few times, but they just keep coming. The heat is on!
But the temperature outside isn’t the only thing on the rise. As the newness of summer starts to wane, the emotional heat rises as well. Siblings have been together much more than they are used to in the summer months, and quite frankly, more than they want to. Parents are getting tired of putting on a show every day to keep their children’s summer entertaining and fresh. The lack of routine and normalcy (as we have learned in the past few years) has everyone in a tizzy. Oh yea, the heat is on!
But the temperature outside isn’t the only thing on the rise. As the newness of summer starts to wane, the emotional heat rises as well
Then we add in thoughts about going back to school. After having a summer full of lackadaisical attitudes, we add the stress of shopping for fall clothing (even as we sweat on our way from car to store). We prep backpacks and make lunch menus.
As things continue to heat up, here are some activities that are easy to prep, will be sure to bring down both the literal and figurative heat, and bring a little of that early summer joy back.
Check Out Your Local Library
OK, this one might seem like an obvious one, but hear me out. So many libraries do some fun summer reading events, have activities for kids of many ages, and offer some air conditioning with a calm atmosphere. My teenage boys follow our local library on Twitch and learn a bit about new games. My third-grade daughter made a worm farm, and my kindergarten daughter enjoyed storytime last week. The best part is, most summer reading programs are super busy at the start of the summer, but interest declines over the summer. So, it’s a great time to get in there and see what they have going on.
Have A Pollock Art Day
This one’s messy, but what better time to make a mess than in the summer? Grab some paper, paint and a few brushes, and head outside. Put the paper on the ground and let the kids splatter paint all over. You can also put the paper on a fence outside and add some watered down paint to spray bottles if the thought of paint EVERYWHERE makes you uneasy. The best part is, when they are done, grab the hose and clean up the mess! Have the children wear their bathing suits for even easier clean up. Look at that! We’ve painted out your emotional heat and then cooled off the literal heat with the hose.
Freeze The Summer
Ice can help cool down any situation! Last summer, I bought each child a small Lego set. Then I dumped the Legos into a plastic container of water and froze it. The next day, they had to bring the ice block outside and break their new Legos free. I gave them paintbrushes, eye droppers, water and some winter gloves to keep their hands warm. It was a wonderful (almost) hour of laughter and ease. Then, they go to put the sets together making the activity fill most of our morning. We also make our own popsicles, use colored water to make ice paint, and add ice to our water table.
This is my go-to activity. When the temperature is too hot to think about and the children are emotionally charged, I put on a movie, pop some popcorn and allow screen time. We make the living room a movie theater and bring down all of the pillows and blankets. Sometimes there is a fort involved, but mostly it is a movie marathon for the day. We eat lunch between movies, chatting about what we watched. Take this as your permission to “screen it in” for a day.
Although summer can feel like an overwhelming time, especially with small children, it is what we make it. My five year old told me that going to our public pool for an hour, then stopping at the grocery store for ice cream was the best part of her summer. We did go camping, and she attended a camp. I went out of my way to plan outings every time I had a day off, including to New York City and into the mountains. But, it was the time that just she and I went to the pool and store together that made the biggest impact. Keep in mind that the heat of the summer comes up, but cooling it off doesn’t have to take a lot!
About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15. As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.
Photo credit: iStock.com/South_agency