Monday, May 22, 2017

How We Create a Patchwork Summer

One of my favorite summer pics of the kids
Around the time of spring break *the* question started rolling around my parenting circles: "What are your kids doing for the summer?" This is often followed by panicking, but I've found that between our travel plans and hosting guests rather than pick a camp for the whole summer, finding a few weekly programs interspersed with weeks of rest have worked great for us. 

Our Mainstays

These include our local library's summer reading program, regular visits to the YMCA (especially on rainy days!), our playground as well as our memberships to Six Flags, the children's museum and the zoo. As a kid growing up in Columbus, Ohio the summer reading program was my absolute favorite kicking off with a huge party followed by the promise of cool prizes along the way as I completed my summer reading list. 

Walking to our library - I know it's the fall, but I love this shot!
Thankfully, we're walking distance to our library, Y and playground so I'm excited to get out and about the neighborhood with the kids. A new thing I'm looking to implement this summer is consistent volunteering. Our neighborhood just started a new clean-up initiative, and I'd like for us to be involved in an age-appropriate (safe) way. 

Our Variables

I like to keep an ongoing survey of Nia's interests and each year it's been fun to see what carries over vs. her new interests: she's participate in circus camp for 2 years now and last year was her first time at horse camp as well as robotics camp, where she was the only girl. 

This year Nia's been passionate about giving tennis a try and by word of mouth I've found a free program nearby. Our Black Girls Code chapter is picking up and I'm looking forward to signing her up for some of those programs as well. 

Regarding our school-year activities, swimming and piano, I haven't found a free program yet like the one we did in Portsmouth, NH, but we may go on hiatus or a scaled back schedule for both. I'm also looking forward to Grayson joining Nia in piano once he turns 3 which brings us to...

Our Summer Birthdays
Nia's 5th birthday in New Hampshire
Both Nia and Grayson have summer birthdays and this factors into our plans with Grayson's birthday heading into the July 4th holiday followed by Nia's in August. As homeowners with a yard at last (yay!) we're looking forward to celebrating Grayson's birthday in the backyard, and we'll see where Nia's party ends up - usually it's at a pool. 

Our Travel Plans, Hosting Guests & Other Events

Having just returned from Orlando for Mom 2.0, this weekend Uka and I have a quick couples getaway for a concert then the following weekend is my 15th college reunion. Now that we're in Boston it's great to be close to my alma mater so I can easily participate, and Uka and the kids will head get to join in too for some of the festivities. From there we head into Nia's last week of school, and my BFF and her family arrive from Ohio to stay with us. 

The new Nutella Cafe in Chicago is on my bucket list! {Image credit}
Next up, the kids and I will tag along to Chicago for Uka's business trip then just Uka and I will head down to Orlando again when I speak at BlogHer in a few weeks. This falls on our anniversary weekend so we've added a couple days to our stay to enjoy Universal Studios (shhhh! Don't tell Nia!).  

Vegas throwback from 2012 
July will be a couples trip to Vegas and hopefully Cape Cod as well as hosting more family and BBQs. I'm also hoping to make it back to Ohio in August for my grandma's and Nia's birthdays then celebrating her birthday here in Boston. After that it's all about school prep as Nia will be starting 2nd grade and Grayson going to part-time pre-K 3 

Whew! To get through all this here are 5 tips I've learned to help make the most of a patchwork summer:

Portsmouth Public Library's summer reading kickoff in 2015

1. Make the most of free programs - I stay on parenting Facebook groups and check out my local library's bulletin board and community newspaper 

2. Don't forget about Groupon and Living Social - We have a few deals that I've scoped out for water parks/play spaces that are especially helpful to hold onto for rainy days

3. Add in "do nothing days" - these give you days of rest to look forward to and leave time to recharge

4. Integrate brain work - we like to read and play games rather than worksheets that help the kids avoid the summer slump of regressing in-between grades 

5. Stick to a bedtime - we still maintain a set bedtime in the summer; while our kids usually go to bed at 8p.m. and wake up at 6:30a.m. during the school year we extend it when appropriate and don't leave it open-ended so bedtime looks more like 9p.m., waking up around 7/8a.m.

I can already tell it's going to be a fun, yet busy summer and I'm already looking forward to chances to intersperse lazy days for backyard fun. I'm pretty sure there will be no excuses for saying, "I'm bored."

Do you have a patchwork summer too? How do you stay on top of your plans?