You Can Have the Summer of Your Dreams

The last day of school is quickly approaching, and if you’re like most parents you’re a bit apprehensive. As Midwesterners we wring the most we can out of summer’s sunshine, but too often summer comes and goes in a whirlwind. I admit that in summers past I’ve actually looked forward to the first day of school because it promised a return to an easier level of activity for us.

But there are several tried and true things we can do to harness the madness to try to bring a little more repose into our summer weekends. Here are just a few:

Treat the weeknights a little more like weekends.

Trying to jam family bonding time and outings and errands into each summer weekend is exhausting. Instead, try moving a few of those weekend summer activities — going to the pool, bike rides, cookouts, grocery shopping, etc. — to weeknights. You can even find several farmer’s markets in the Milwaukee area that stretch until 6pm or 7pm on some weekdays: this web site lists local farmers markets and their times (hint: scroll down to Milwaukee County). Of course moving some of these activities to weeknights means that dinner will have to be super fast, portable or purchased on the go. But if you can manage it, moving some of summer’s essential activities to weeknights can free up huge chunks of time on the weekend, helping those weekends to have the “lazy summer afternoon” quality that we dream of.

Ask your kids now what three things they want to do this summer, and then schedule them in (trying for weeknights if possible per the suggestion above).

I asked my daughter this question last night, and was surprised by her answer. I imagined she’d talk about amusement parks and the State Fair, but she said she wanted to go to the local pool, learn to skateboard, and do more computer coding. Wow! Those are things I can help happen with the assistance of evening pool hours and websites like Instructables and Lifehacker that teach skateboarding and coding. Scheduling these activities in and sticking to it means that it’s more likely they’ll get done and without the stress of trying to jam them in during August.

Ask yourself what you want to do this summer, and schedule it in.

A pedicure with friends and without kids? A long run a few times per week? A fishing trip? Whatever it is, commit to it, schedule it, and buy tickets or make reservations or whatever you need to do to give yourself a little kick to follow through with it.

Have an unending supply of chalk and bubbles and finger paint, and, if you have a yard, get a sprinkler and some lawn games.

These are classic summer activities, and it’s the classic activities that often keep kids occupied for huge long stretches of time, so you can just haul out a lawn chair, get a book and a beverage, and chill. You can find these nearly anywhere, and we carry most of these items at Ruckus & Glee.

Go stargazing.

Few things will bring more lasting wonder into your life than looking through a high powered telescope into the night sky. Just the surface of the moon seems like a thing you can touch! Kids love it because they get to stay up late (and they love it more if it is combined with ice cream). We’re so lucky in the Milwaukee area to have access to some free or low-cost stargazing experiences at UWM, the Milwaukee Astronomical Society in New Berlin, and Froemming Park, among others.

Finally, go easy on yourself.

Summers never turn out quite like we expect. Things happen that will disrupt your plans and force you to abandon ship. Remember what it was like when your kids were babies and a productive day meant perhaps checking off one item on your list of 100 things to do? Give yourself that kind of space to get through the summer, one day at a time.

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