by Kathryn Streeter
Whoever first penned the phrase, “the lazy days of summer” surely never had kids. Parents with young children are especially apt to be scratching their heads or on the couch in a fetal position, wondering how to manage the open, unconstructed stretch of time called summer. Even if you’ve successfully penciled in camps and a trip to visit grandparents, there will still be slow days, hot days, blah days, when boredom rules the house like a tyrant and brings out the worst in the kids—and you.
Nat King Cole’s song “Those Lazy, Crazy, Hazy Days of Summer” ends with, “You’ll wish that summer could always be here.” If that phrase rings ridiculous, here are 5 freshly-hatched ideas to think about implementing this summer to create enriching, memorable moments.
Surprise your kids by asking them to co-host afternoon Tea, inviting one of your girlfriends you’ve struggled to schedule time with to be the guest of honor. Conduct a reenactment based on proper etiquette to prepare the kids for the occasion. The catch being, the kids will adore this idea because it involves cookies—or cucumber finger sandwiches, if you’re going to be doctrinaire about it! With the snack angle established, your kids will greet your friend at the door, help serve tea, eat and talk cordially like real grown-ups for a pre-established amount of time before they’re allowed to dart off to their rooms or a nearby stash of toys, depending on your children’s ages.
Surprise your kids by asking them to explore the internet. Yes, you read that correctly. With the computer monitor in a public area of your home, let your child loose to explore areas of interest. It’s not too unlike the old days, when having a set of Encyclopedia Britannica within easy reach for even the littlest family members was common. Does your kid have a weird obsession with turtles? Do they love World War 2 history? Harry Potter trivia and the subject of wizardry? Fast cars or popular backpacks? Let them learn as much as they can about subjects they’re wild about. Then, allow them to upload their information around the dinner table.
Surprise your kids by asking them to help plan an ethnic dinner meal. Starting a week in advance, ask, “What country far away would you visit if you could snap your fingers?” Using food to “travel” there, help them find this country on a map and conduct simple online searches to isolate one or more dishes which are doable for the family meal, such as Allrecipes.com’s collection of easy Indian fare. Whether Moroccan, Filipino or Indian ingredients are on your grocery list, Houston has you covered, with scores of ethnic groceries dotting the region.
Surprise your kids by taking them bowling! Go to one of many AMF locations, or visit TripAdvisor to hear what people say about the many bells & whistles independent bowling alleys offer. Alternatively, strap on roller skates and beat the heat while bebopping to 80s tunes (or whatever theme you encounter). The kids will be mesmerized by the shimmering light displays and learn a new skill without once feeling like they’re exercising. A quick search will pull up over a dozen rinks, but consult Yelp’s “Top 10” listing, if you prefer. June averages 90-degree temps, so when the pool is old news, head out the door for some climate-controlled, spirited movement.
Surprise your kids with pizza delivery at a new park. If the humidity and heat are manageable, take the kids to a new playground, easily discovered by using your handy Playground Buddy app. The “new” playground equipment and different layout will serve to elicit the oohs and ahhs that confirm you’re the best parent ever. To top off the excitement, in stealth, order Domino’s pizza and have it magically delivered to the playground, taking advantage of the company’s new unconventional delivery initiative which uses 150,000 outdoor hotspots. Find a shady spot, whip out a blanket and ta-da, you’ll have the best table—and probably the happiest kids—at the park.
Kathryn Streeter’s writing has appeared in publications including The Washington Post, The Week and Austin American-Statesman. Find her on Twitter, @streeterkathryn.