Some of my most fond memories of childhood are from the summertime. My parents only have an acre of property, but it was a vast “natural” playground for us, as kids. I remember swinging on our rope swing through huge puddles after a sudden, summer thunderstorm. I remember hiding in the hollow of an ancient lilac bush, reading books and sneaking away from the world. I remember lying on quilts and gazing up at the stars, learning constellations and catching lightning bugs – on nights unpolluted by city lights and sounds. The smell of freshly cut grass, sun-warmed hay, and just-turned earth all take me back to those glorious, country-summer days.
Summer is best spent outdoors and I hope that my kids will learn to glory in the small wonders of nature, even living in a more urban setting. I think the most important thing as parents is to value it (the out-of-doors) ourselves and then provide as many opportunities as we can for exploration and discovery! I don’t think there is a kid out there (once given the chance!) who would pass up an afternoon splashing in a stream or exploring a wooded trail for staying indoors watching TV or playing video games…but maybe I’m an optimist. 😉
- Gardens: whether it’s a small, urban, raised-bed garden or a not-so-perfectly weeded flower bed, exposing our kids to the growing world of plants is a must for our family. We have enjoyed ours this year and N (along with some of her toddler friends) are already identifying and EATING things fresh from the garden. It really is true that kids will get more excited about eating their vegetables if they play a role in planting/picking them! Our friends’ 3-year old loves to exclaim: “Lettuce? I LOVE lettuce! Peas? I LOVE peas!” as he is picking them & shoving them into his little mouth. One day I hope to have the space/time/creative-will to have a “Kids Garden” where the kitchen garden gets a little whimsical makeover! 🙂
- Nature Walks: walks at the park can definitely make up for lack of space in our own backyard, but it is harder to feel comfortable with “free play” – there are rules about climbing trees or leaving the beaten path and more uncomfortable facts like “stranger danger” to worry about. However, I can’t wait to share these wild spaces with my kiddos as they get older. There are so many creative ways to get kids interested in nature and exploring the world from making your own field notebooks, to rock collections, to nature scavenger hunts! These little treasure boxes (recycled mint tins) are such a cute pinterest find – N loves to collect treasures while we are on our walks and it is so hard to not want to collect & save every little thing she finds special (although our house would be overflowing with pinecones & leaves by now!).
- Picnics: I mentioned this last week in my Things I Love post, but it is so true: it is more fun to eat outside! Grab a blanket, some salad or your favorites snacks, a bottle of water & head out! 🙂
- Planning Ahead! I have realized the benefit of planning this summer – not a hard-and-fast, schedule-your-life-away sort of plan…but a loose guideline that helps you not to waste precious time. So many mornings/afternoons get away from me in running errands or they just drag on and on until naptime. When I take the time to have a few “scheduled” events (playgroup, trip to the library, play-doh/craft time) the day seems to flow so much better. I saw this simple summer schedule on a blog the other day & thought it was pretty neat & easily adaptable to toddler-life.
What are some of your favorite summertime memories? Have any “everyday” summer plans for you or your kids?