Life Times Newsletter

Summer 2009
Vol. 11, No. 3


Ideas for having family fun


Teresa L. Mareschal, MAT
Human Development Specialist

When I was a child, I looked forward to long summer days with no particular agenda and especially no school.

I remember a nice balance of free play, visits to the library and book-mobile, trips to the zoo and science museum, and occasionally an evening drive to the ice cream store in pajamas. One of my aunts would invite me to stay with her for a week or two at a time. My favorite part of the visit was staying up past my bed- time and watching “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.

Those times are long gone, but as an adult and an aunt, I have recreated these fun times for myself and the over-scheduled children in my life.

Since they were very young, my niece and nephew have come to visit from the East Coast in the summer. They look forward to the variety of activities and food delights that their aunts and uncle have planned for them each year. My nephew has even started to call a few weeks before the visit to make sure that plenty of special treats are on hand for snacks or meals.  (Doing this occasionally doesn’t hurt—and besides, I’m an aunt!)

Whether you’re a parent, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, there are plenty of things to do with kids so everyone has an enjoyable time and builds memories. Here are a few ideas.

· Start by ordering state and local vacation guides. These books have information on places to go, eat and sleep.

· Get a schedule of library, zoo, museum and pool hours. These places often offer hours or days when admission is discounted or even free.

· Ask the kids what they would like to do. Then research these activities too.

· Be sure to allow for quiet or down time. This gives everyone a chance to recharge and provides a back-up plan in case the weather or someone’s temperament is not cooperative.

· Keep age-appropriate books, movies, games and craft activities on hand.

What kids want and need most is spending time with you. It’s easy to do, not just in the summer, but year-round. Here are some examples.

· Every other week, let one child choose a favorite meal to prepare with you and serve to the family.

· Have a pajama day. Pick up favorite movies and snacks ahead of time. Then when you all get home from work, camp, school or childcare, change into your pajamas for the next 18 to
24 hours and spend time together enjoying the movies and each other.

· Hold a game night. Play board games, card games or physically-active video games.

· Go to the park. Take a walk, lie on a blanket and watch the clouds or stars.

Just get started! Before you know it, lifelong memories will be happening.




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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller