Ah, August. The summer’s final hurrah. This month is like the last course of a succulent meal—an experience you want to slow down and savor for as long as possible.
But just how to do this? Here we offer five tips for helping you make the most of these last weeks of summer with your loved ones. You can adapt our suggestions to best suit your own family’s tastes and preferences—the same way you might adapt the ingredients in a favorite recipe. Only your intention to spend the time together is essential.
You don’t have to do something grand, time consuming or expensive before the summer is over to relish time with your family. Memories are often made up of simple, everyday moments and experiences. Find time to catch fireflies together, or go swimming, or skip rocks on the water. Roast marshmallows over a fire or grill. During dinner one night talk about what everyone wants to do before summer is over (including you!), and if the ideas are easy enough, go for it!
Literally seize the day and take advantage of the last hours of sunlight by sharing walks while enjoying your dessert. Bring ice cream cones, popsicles, or anything that fits into a cup (napkins are a good idea too). A walking dessert accomplishes many things: It gets you exercising; it redirects the urge your kids have to get up from the table; and it provides new things to look at and talk about. Read more.
If you want your children to remember the things you do this summer, talk about them. The brain needs language to remember experience, and if your child can verbalize an experience in detail, research has shown that he or she is more likely to remember it. For instance, after a day at the beach, ask questions: What was your favorite part? Can you describe what the water felt like? The sand? Creating a story out of your shared experience and telling it repeatedly will up the odds that you’re creating memories to last a lifetime.
Memory researchers also say that we more easily recall things that stand out from the ordinary. So try this: Have breakfast for dinner once a week before the month is out. Dress in your favorite pajamas and eat pancakes, cereal or eggs. Invite friends, or the stuffed animals. Or pack up dinner and bring it to the beach or a park for a change of scenery. Of course you can also have dinner for breakfast! Cold pizza anyone? And if you’re feeling really crazy, an occasional dessert-before-dinner evening (say an ice cream appetizer?) never hurt anyone.
As you’re checking off items on your final days of summer to-do list, create a memory book with your family. Insert photos, ticket stubs, and other mementos from all the fun things you did this summer. Or if a book isn’t your speed, make it a memory jar, in which the idea is the same but the container is different (and you can fit in those shells from the beach, for example). What a wonderful way to preserve your summer, and put some closure around the season as you prepare for the transition ahead.
Here’s a late-summer salad recipe that’s easy to make – from our friends at Chop Chop Magazine:
Food coloring painting is fun for artists of all ages! You can paint outdoors while the weather is still warm—maybe a cloud portrait? All you need is some food coloring, a couple of eyedroppers, some water dishes and paper towels. Read more
Our conversation starters for August are all about the season!
What was your favorite thing you did this summer? Why was it your favorite?
Name one thing you saw this summer that you’d never seen before.
What is your favorite summer food to eat?
Are you a “summer” person? If not, what season do you think best represents you?
Do you have a favorite summer memory, whether from this year or another? What is it?
Did you do anything to help someone this summer? What was it? If not, what could you still do?
Albert Camus is quoted as saying, “In the depth of winter, I learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” What do you think he meant? Can you connect this to your own life?
What place/activity/memory best captures “summer” for you as a child? How did it make you feel?
2023 The Family Dinner Project