Today’s kids are extremely busy. In addition to school and homework, many are involved in multiple extracurricular activities that keep them busy from sun up to sun down.
Some families have an activity every single day of the week, with different practices and games or events on the weekends. If your child is overly busy, he or she may complain about headaches and tummy aches, feel tired or agitated, and see a drop in grades.
As parents navigate all of this busyness, they also understand the importance of family bonding time on the overall mental and emotional health of their children. Studies show quality time with parents and a healthy relationship can impact a child’s success for life.
Family time and a slower pace are two of the reasons parents look forward to summer break from school. However, summer can go by so quickly you can be left feeling as though you didn’t get in enough quality time with your child before back to school shopping takes over and classes resume.
Fortunately, there are some simple bonding activities families can participate in to make sure they make the most of summer, even if it is the end of the season or school has already resumed.
Create Theme Nights
Your family might already have a pizza night, but what are some end-of-summer nights you can create as a family to remember the warm, slow days of summer? For example, you might want to host a family movie night where you use a projector and sheet to create an outdoor movie theater experience in your back yard.
Other theme night ideas include things such as a trip to the drive-in, trying food from another location, such as Korean or Mexican, and even family game night. Turn off the television for a while and spend some quality one-on-one time face-to-face.
Find a cause you can support as a family and spend one day a month or a week volunteering. This could be anything from helping out at the local homeless shelter to visiting seniors at your local nursing home. What do you care about as a group? How can you make a difference in that area?
Some other things you can do as a family to support causes is to sponsor a child from another country who needs support to finish an education. You can all work together to raise the monthly fees to cover the cost of sponsorship.
Who knows — one summer you might just go on a trip to meet the sponsored child. There are many organizations out there offering the opportunity to do this.
Research where the money goes and which one would be the best fit for your family.
Take an End-of-Summer Camping Trip
Start an annual end-of-summer camping trip for the entire family. This is a good time to include extended family, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, too.
This will allow you to create a tradition and build memories you otherwise wouldn’t have. Everything about the trip can create bonding opportunities, even giving each family member a role, such as:
- Setting up the tent
- Gathering firewood
- Fetching water
Start some camping trip traditions, such as telling funny stories around a campfire, roasting s’mores every night after dinner and taking a nature walk. The key is to have a regular set of activities the family participates in and can look forward to every August.
Produce a Movie Together
One way to create a bonding moment and also a memory is to write, film and edit a movie together. With today’s smartphones, you can easily capture these moments and edit them. An inexpensive digital video camera will also allow you to create a film.
To make this even more exciting for the children, plan a red carpet event to debut your annual summer movie. Have family and friends dress up and arrive for the showing of the movie.
Not only will your children remember the event, but you’ll have the movie to view for years to come.
Over time, you will begin to have a nice collection of movies. Eventually, you may move away from filming them to mainly watching past movies.
Make a Time Capsule
What are some of your favorite memories of this summer? Have everyone in the family gather items that serve as a reminder. For example, if you went on vacation to the beach and collected seashells, put a few of your favorites in the time capsule.
Everyone can write a few notes about their favorite summer memories to include as well. Use prompts such as:
- Funniest thing that happened
- Skill that was learned
- Saddest moments
Even the youngest children can draw a picture that answers these prompts and add it to the time capsule.
Although time capsules are traditionally buried and excavated years later, there is no hard and fast rule here. You can certainly keep the time capsule in a closet and pull it out at the beginning of the next summer to read through the memories and see if there is anything new you want to accomplish that wasn’t done the previous year.
Or you can bury the time capsule and dig it up in thirty years. Either way works as a good bonding experience.
Treasure These Final Days
Even though summer might be winding down, you still have time to make precious memories that will allow your family to strengthen the ties that bind. These five ideas will get you started and hopefully will also spark a few new ideas for you as well.
Don’t overlook local outings to build memories, such as a trip to the state park or a local children’s museum. Quality time is hard to find in today’s hectic world, but with a little planning and determination, you can make the most of every last minute of summer.
Remember that even small moments can have a big impact that stays in everyone’s hearts for years to come.
Do you have a favorite end of summer activity? Please share it in the Comments. Thank you.