Saturday, June 5, 2010

Getting Ready for Summer with Kids!!!

I am starting The Soulful Parent's June Birthday Celebration with some great guest bloggers who I love and respect very much! As Summer is upon us, I will be focusing on how to keep cool during the hottest time of the year...both for the weather AND for our relationships with our children, now that they are home! - Sandra


Getting Ready for Summer with Kids
By Susan Heid- The Confident Mom

It’s the time of year that busy moms everywhere are either pulling their hair out or rejoicing! SCHOOLS OUT – now what? As you begin to think about your summer, I have a few tips and suggestions that you might find helpful as you put together a plan for summer.

Even though school is out and in most homes there is little urgency to be anywhere at a certain time or accomplishing anything in a particular order, it is amazing how good it is for children to still expect some kind of routine. Instead of having chaotic mayhem, sit down and come up with a regular morning, afternoon and evening routine that you can pretty much stick to, however loosely that may look for your family. I know for our family, having an expectation that certain things, like eating breakfast, brushing teeth, taking medicine, making beds and getting dressed are done by a certain time helps everyone out. I am not nagging or reminding and it helps us all have a more pleasant morning. The same routines can be set up for afternoons and evenings. When your children are comfortable with routines and the expectations that come with them, it eases anxiety and frustration for everyone.

Avoid the Summer Back Slide
Okay, schools out and now school work gets a backseat to fun! Do you know research has shown that students lose 2 months of math learning over the summer? YIKES! I know that unless you are intentional in providing a space and place to encourage your child to continue learning over the summer, they will back slide. Usually we have picked a subject to concentrate on over the summer – reading, spelling, handwriting, math skills, letter writing – just to name a few. This year is Math. I have discovered a new way to incorporate math learning in a engaging and fun way for my kids - TenMarks Education.

They have a great personalized summer program mapped to your child’s needs and it is done completely online – with video lessons, hints if they get stuck and incentives to complete the work. My son has already started working on this great program and he loves it! Watch the video here for more information on how it works. It is only $39 for the entire summer. That is a little more than $10 per month and the best part is I don’t have to take the time to put together any program; I just encourage and watch my child succeed!

I don’t know about you, but with older kids it seems like it gets harder and harder to come up with new and fun ideas to pass the long summer days away. I have gathered a few new ideas to share with you that we will be trying this summer as well as a few true and tried favorites! We are going to do some solar printing! I found this great little kit that comes with supplies so that you can make cards and more just by using items you have around the house and placing them outside on the solar paper! This will be fun. Solar Print Kit I am sure I will have to buy some plain paper too; this will surely be a hit for us all! I even think my husband will love it and a great camping activity too.

Our family is always looking for new and creative games and I stumbled upon this one Mad Libs Card Game. If you are not familiar with Mad Libs – CHECK THEM OUT! They are a great source of fun, learning entertainment and I guarantee a lot of belly laughs and if you are not careful you may even pee your pants. They also come in a booklet format that we take to the beach, use on airplanes and car rides. Vacation Mad Libs. I can guarantee we will get a lot of use out of ours this summer on our RV trip to Yellowstone.

I can’t wait to try this Homemade Sidewalk Paint too. We live in a cul de sac so have lots of sidewalk and a big area to paint away. You make the paint out of water, corn starch and food coloring. This environmentally friendly sidewalk paint takes the place of traditional sidewalk chalk. It’s also very, very inexpensive! You can make standard shades of red, green, yellow, and blue; or, mix and match to create other shades. Here is the recipe.

If you are traveling at all this summer I have a few tips that will surely save your sanity.

Pack clothing for younger kids in zip loc bags. Pack everything you need for an outfit in a bag and then everything is in one place and you can either give the child the bag of clothing or have your partner help get them dressed. No one is looking around for a clean pair of underwear or that hair ribbon that matches the shirt!

For car or airplane rides, pack snacks in smaller “snack” size bags rather than just bringing a long the larger purchased sized item. This elevates messes as you distribute snacks, you have less over eating since there is portion control and it makes it easier to pack too!

Have surprised! When we are traveling and when space accommodates it I have went to the dollar store and bought a few new items for my kids. Some times I even wrap them up so they can anticipate the surprise. They don’t get these items in advance of our trip and now they always look forward to finding out what they got – yes even my 17 year old still loves this tradition!

Listen to stories on CD if you are traveling by car or download them to an MP3 player for your child if you are taking a plane. You can get a ton of great stories at your local library. I have found I even enjoy listening to the stories – and when we take a break we end up talking about what has transpired while we have listened. It is a great way to engage everyone in one activity.

Summer is such a great time of year and has the potential to create such great, lasting memories for you and your family. I know for me, some of my most vivid memories are from summer vacations or activities we did as a family. I hope you have a few new ideas to incorporate into your summer plans and it is certainly one full of great memories!</b>

Susan Heid is the amazing mom and coach behind the The Confident Mom – Reviving the Art of Home & Family Management with practical tools so you can re-energize your role as a mom & develop your God-given potential! She is a proud mother of 3 awesome kids – ages 17, 13 and 9, married to her very own prince charming. She loves coffee, cloudy days, and does think the “bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle.”

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