One of the most rewarding things about having children has to be watching them grow from the tiny baby they once were, to the intelligent little person that they are now. In the moment, certain things can feel endless, like watching the same Disney movie over and over or that phase where your son wants to do everything himself because “he’s a big boy now.” The thing is, that phase rolls right back around toward the teen years, and it doesn’t go away. Take advantage of the summertime and create lasting memories with your children before they get to the age where they’re too embarrassed to be hanging out with mom and dad.
Here are some ways to maximize family time before the little ones become young adults and spend all their time at a part-time job! They’re frugal, enjoyable, and can be placed in whatever time slot you’ve got available.
Use Evening Hours to Your Advantage
While you may not be able to do this every evening, reserve the last hour or two before sending the kids off to bed to do something fun together. This is around the time when homework is done, dinner has been eaten, and everyone is just watching TV or looking at their phones anyway. Bring the family together by playing a round of Jenga, Clue, Uno, or any other game from the time before smartphones. To make deciding easier, put everyone’s game choice in a jar and take turns picking each night.
Instead of prizes, allow the winner take one night off of a chore such as dishes or taking out the trash. You get to spend more time with the family, and they get to keep a tradition of their own.
Food is the Gift That Keeps on Giving
Okay, I know cooking and food preparation doesn’t exactly spark the words “good times” in your mind. However, there are a few incredibly fun and creative snacks you can prepare with minimal effort. Allow your little chef to help you with a “dirt and worms” recipe and use a gluten-free or vegan chocolate pudding for your mud.
Place Oreos in a plastic bag, and press all the air out before sealing it up. Your kids can grind them up by going over the Oreos with a dough roller, or simply pressing with a cup. Shake the bag up and empty your “dirt” over the pudding evenly. Add a few gummy worms and voila!
There are plenty of other raw and non-cook recipes available that work for both older and younger children. Your family has to eat no matter what, so why not give the little ones a chance to get involved? This is also a learning moment for them and an opportunity for them to become more confident and hands-on in the kitchen. It’s a valuable skill they’ll someday need as adults, plus it’s nice to have someone else stir the pot while you cut veggies.
Herb Gardens for Kitchen Use
Try a simple gardening project with herbs and fruits that can be eaten at home. Mint, aloe vera, rosemary, onion chives, and basil are all excellent starter options and won’t die off as quickly as others. For a better chance of success, grow them in indoor pots where the temperature and environment can be controlled. Your kids can decide how much sunlight and water is needed for their plant, and keeping it indoors reduces the possibility of spider mites and pests getting after the foliage. Spearmint in particular is an incredibly durable plant, you can pluck off pieces for your meals and find new leaves within days. If your kids forget to water it and the plant begins to wither, give it a good drink and it’ll be back to normal after a few short hours.
The best thing about gardening? There’s no specific time of day it has to be done, work it around you and your family’s schedule.
Quality Time is the Goal
There are so many things you can do with your kids this summer, but these open up the door for a conversation. Ask them how their day is going, what would they like their future career to be, what do they want to pursue in school. The point is, you’re spending quality time with your family on the fly, but you’re still spending time with them!