THREE WAYS TO BOND WITH YOUR FAMILY THIS SUMMER by Grant Stenzel-Submitted by Kathy O’Neill RN, Parish Nurse

Posted on July 28, 2019 by Published by

Summer is here, and there is no better opportunity to spend quality time with the family. Summer break for children typically lasts 10-11 weeks, which can fly by, so be sure to make the most of it! If you are having a hard thinking of some fun, creative ideas that will help you spend some meaningful time with your kids, then look no further. Here are some steps you can take to fully enjoy connecting as a family this summer.

  1. Be Purposeful: One of the most important steps you can take to spend time with your family is to be purposeful.  Make sure that you are setting time aside from everything else in your life to focus on spending quality time with them. At some point, you have to leave the work and chores for another day, put down the phone and focus on your children. Make sure you have a plan so you can make the most of it. A good idea is to brainstorm with your children to figure out what they are interested in so you can plan things that the whole family will enjoy.
    If you are part of a parenting team, make sure to discuss these options with your partner before they happen. Throwing plans onto your partner last minute can be stressful and conflict with other plans they may have had. Good communication on all fronts will only improve the relationships and time spent together. And most importantly, try to be patient with your family. Kids can often be resistant to change, so getting them to try new things might be difficult at first.
  2. Spend Time Outside: Sometimes it seems like screens have taken over our lives, but summer is the perfect time to take advantage of every opportunity to get outside. Whether it is going on a bike ride with your kids, walking to an ice cream shop or going to a nearby park, being outside is great for everyone in your family.
    Being outside increases serotonin levels, which can boost mood levels. Cooking or barbecuing with your children can be a great way to spend time outside together as a family. Day trips also provide a lot of quality time, and there are plenty of places nearby where you can easily spend the whole day. Starved Rock State Park, the Indiana Dunes and the Morton Arboretum are all family friendly parks that are only a hop, skip and a jump away. If you are looking for a more personal touch that is a little closer to home, try creating a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood for your kids.
    If you have a day planned and it rains, this does not necessarily mean disaster. Go play in the mud with your kids! They will love it and remember the moment forever. Find a playground and frolic—it will create wonderful memories. If you do stay inside, you can create a pillow fort and watch a movie together. Getting your children involved in cooking family friendly meals, like personal pizzas, can also be a good way to have fun  indoors.
  3. Complete a Project: Want to spend time with your family, and do some good along the way? There are many ways you can do this. You can go to a local forest preserve or beach and pick up trash. Look up #TrashTag to be inspired by the all the spots that people have cleaned up together. This will not only make you and your kids feel great about doing something good, but it benefits your community as well.
    You could also pack food at an amazing organization like Feed My Starving Children. Feed My Starving Children is a nonprofit organization founded in 1987 that helps feed children in over 70 countries.  Packing meals for children that are malnourished and impoverished is rewarding for the whole family.
    If you are looking for something closer to home, you can start and complete a project with your kids. There are plenty of ways you and your children can make some improvements and spend time together. Building birdhouses, cleaning the garage (with music playing in the background) or planting a garden are just a few ideas. Get creative! The more hands-on the kids get the better.

When you hit the end of summer and your kids are going back to school, what will you wish you did? No one gets to the end of the summer and says, “I wish I watched more TV” or “I wish I would have worked more.” Spending time with your kids will create memories that last a lifetime for them.

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