The Hip Mom Rolls Out Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days…
Between homework, activities, meetings, work and play dates, you’d think we Hip Moms would welcome a break. I’ve noticed, however, that this is not always the case. Thanks to specialized camps, summer sports leagues and even summer tutoring, our kids remain over-scheduled even during what should be their lazy days of summer. And while many of us can’t take off from work all summer, we can still try to keep their days lazy while creatively engaging them.
Ready, Set, Grow.
Kids of all ages can take part in planting and tending a garden. The wonder of watching a seed sprout and grow is still fascinating even as an adult. It connects children with nature and creates a real link to food that in today’s world is sadly lacking. My husband is the gardener in our family and he keeps the kids involved by letting them choose interesting varieties of vegetables such as purple cauliflower, red cucumbers and black tomatoes. And he reinforces their three R’s — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — by using things such as egg cartons or even Tic-Tac containers as starter pots.
Composting is not only great for the environment and your garden, it also shows kids how food turns into nutritious soil and back into food. Let your kids experiment with the effects of sunlight, water or compost on their plants. (You may have next year’s science fair project in the bag!) Pretty soon they’ll be fighting over who gets the first ripe strawberry instead of what to watch on TV.
I love taking my kids on “treasure hunts” at consignment and thrift stores. We also like to check out the Habitat For Humanity ReStore store. It’s the perfect place for finding materials for a building project or even replacing the one-of-a-kind plumbing part that has been discontinued. Check out their old doors to use as an art table or let the kids design and help build their own playhouse as a summer building project.
Kids love getting mail. You remember, the kind with a stamp on it that is hand delivered to your house? Surprise them by subscribing to a magazine or service by mail. My kids get BrickMaster from LEGO and, although expensive at $39.99, is a must for any LEGO enthusiast. They get six exclusive sets plus a special BrickMaster Magazine and coupons for the LEGO store or website and Legoland. For budding builders, sign up for the free LEGO Club Magazine, bricks not included. [Editor’s Note, 2020: BrickMaster is no longer published.]
My daughter also has a monthly subscription to “Little Passports.” Each month “Sam” and “Sofia” send her a package (appropriately affixed with a foreign stamp) from a different country from Japan to Brazil. Each package comes with a letter describing their visit in the country, a photo, activities and a souvenir (think Japanese erasers or a small game). Also included is a sticker for her “passport,” which came in the welcome kit along with a suitcase and other goodies. You can sign up for a few months or the whole year. From $10.95 per month.
Let your child enroll to be a pen pal at Amazing-Kids.org. For $10, the non-profit will pair him with another kid with similar interests. Don’t worry, parents have veto power if it isn’t a good fit and must confirm with the “Pal’s” parents as well.
From classic lemonade stands to dog walking or “Mother’s Helper,” a summer business can give kids autonomy and purpose while teaching them responsibility and money management. American Girl makes a great babysitting kit that we have adapted for my daughter as a ‘Mother’s Helper.” She made business cards, has a client book and a bag of books and toys to bring with her on her jobs. A Smart Girl’s Guide To Making Money, also from the American Girl Library, includes 101 business ideas to jumpstart their plan.
Summer activities don’t have to be stressful or expensive. Let your children direct their energies and creativity while exploring their interests, and help them keep their summer fun!