Are your kids back in school yet? Around here, school starts on Wednesday. My daughter and I were saying just this afternoon what a shame it was that the last few days of summer vacation have been so dreary. We’ve had a number of very strong storms in the last several days, and it’s been raining almost non-stop since Saturday.
In my mind, no matter when school actually starts, it never really feels like school until after Labor Day. That means that there’s time for one last bit of fun before we get back into the rat race of school, homework, conferences, meetings, and after school activities.
Now, no one should need an excuse to have a little family fun, but in case you do, here’s my reasoning:
- Family bonding. Never mind the Waltons and the Camdens and the Brady Bunch, real families need to feel connected, as corny as it sounds. Studies have shown that kids with a strong sense of family have higher self-esteem, and all kinds of good things come from that. Having a good time together doing something you all enjoy helps strengthen that bond. P.S.: Strengthening bonds between siblings is a good thing, too, and having fun together helps.
- That rat race I mentioned earlier. No matter how great your parenting skills, no matter how organized you are, or how much you all love one another, the school year is more stressful than summer. Take some time now while you have it to relax and have some fun. For ADD kids especially, the school year can be very stressful; this is the time of year when the relationship between parent and child can be especially charged. If your kids have a warm memory to draw upon during these moments, it can really make a difference.
Having one last summer fun event doesn’t have to be a big deal, it just has to be fun. Take some cues from your kids – ask them what they would like to do – and while you’re at it, see if you can’t muster up a little childlike enthusiasm yourself. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Sleepovers are always a big hit, until they outgrow them. It could be a camp out in the backyard or the family room. When my kids were younger, we had a tradition of sorts. (Family traditions are also great for bonding). No matter if the sleepover was at our house or a friends, I was the designated junk food run mom. I am a night owl and tend to stay up late. My kids knew that they could call me up until about 11 or 12 o’clock, and I would drive over, pick everyone up, and take them to the party store for whatever junk food that wanted to buy. (A little junk food now and then is OK, and if it’s consumed at someone else’s house, all the better.)
- The “who do you have for math” party. This was a chance for my kids and their friends to get together for a few hours and compare schedules after they had picked them up. It was a relief for everyone to know that they had a friend at lunch or in math class, and made the first day of school a little more bearable. Add some pizza, and in our case, a pool, and you’ve got a party.
- Let the kids choose a day trip. My youngest daughter has a friend who’s just crazy about the zoo. One year, we bought her a membership as a birthday gift. At the end of summer, that was a tradition in her family – one last trip to the zoo. If you have a vacation cottage, maybe that’s your tradition – one last trip. For our family, it was usually a trip to a fairly local place – someplace that tourists would tend to visit while they were in town.
- Have a pool party or giant BBQ. One year, my daughter and her friend wanted to model their new school clothes, so we organized a fashion show and took pictures.
You’ve got about 2 weeks until Labor Day; go out and have some fun!