Debi and I met through our blogs and have even shared a few memorable in-person play dates with our kids. Make sure you check her Go Explore Nature website for ideas and LA nature locations. I asked if she’d want to share any tips with my readers and she provided her end-of-summer musings:
Did you ever have to write a “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay when you were a kid? At the time, I never felt like I had anything interesting to say.
But now that I’ve marked my first real summer vacation as a parent (my oldest is now a first grader), I feel like I learned a few valuable lessons worth sharing.
So here goes.
Having fun should be a priority.
When I was a kid, I loved summer. To me, it meant sleeping in, riding my bike every day, playing in the backyard until the sun went down, eating fruit off the trees, swimming at grandma’s and going to the family cabin in Yosemite.
I want my kids to love summer, too.
And so I found myself making fun a priority every day. Sometimes that took the form of an adventure at the beach, a nature park or a favorite museum. Other times, we rode our bikes to a friend’s house, ate lunch in the backyard or played in the sprinklers.
It didn’t matter what we did. It only mattered that we do something fun every day.
Time outdoors is a great remedy for what ails you.
Ever notice that kids are more agreeable when they’re enjoying the outdoors? While there’s plenty of evidence to support the idea that time spent outdoors in nature is good for kids, seeing it first hand was pretty convincing.
Whether we were tired, bored, and whiny or just feeling lazy, a trip out the back door always seemed to work magic. And the more time we spent outside, the stronger the effect.
Nature play is often better with friends.
My family loves spending time in nature. But until this summer, we usually did so on our own.
Over the past few months, we built fairy houses, mixed up magic potions, hiked and explored lagoons, wetlands and more with others.
With friends around, imaginative play took flight. Friends helped us spot things we wouldn’t have seen on our own and taught us things we wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
Summer doesn’t last forever.
Even though every parent feels like summer lasts forever, it doesn’t. Do your best to make the most of it, because next year your kids will be entirely different people.
Before summer started, I made a list of things I hoped we’d do. (My 5-½ year old contributed his ideas, too!) Then I took it a step further and actually scheduled time to do the things on our list. We certainly didn’t get to everything, but we did pretty well.
I’m not waiting for next year to put my lessons from summer into practice. Fall is calling!
Debi Huang is a Los Angeles-based wife, mom and adventure guide for two young boys. Her blog at Go Explore Nature is all about getting kids and families outdoors and connected to nature.