Summer is finally here! If you’ve been waiting with breathless anticipation for warmer weather, vacations and good old-fashioned family fun, you’re probably thrilled to turn the calendar page to July. But all this downtime and change of routines from the predictability of the school year can lead to cranky kids, boredom and burnout.
It’s sad but true: There really can be too much of a good thing — too many S’mores, too many late nights catching fireflies, too many day trips and picnics and too much activity crammed into the summer days as we all try to make the most of them. Learn how to keep a sunny outlook this summer with these tips:
There’s nothing more summery than eating outside! You can pack a traditional picnic and head to the backyard or a local park, encourage the whole family to play with their food using the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables available, or keep things simple and sweet with a new weekly tradition: The “Walking Dessert.”
Let the kids make these four-ingredient, allergen-friendly Coconut Fudge Pops for a crowd-pleasing portable treat!
We wouldn’t want you to forego cloud gazing or beach combing to cram in every teachable moment you can. But summer is a great time to help kids pick up new skills that contribute to their independence and confidence, which can translate to smoother school years come September. Pick one or more days during the week when your kids can take charge of some of the tasks for dinner, from washing and sorting for little ones to chopping and sauteing for tweens and teens. Check out these tips on Nuturing Your Mini Chefs to help get you started.
Need more ideas to engage kids in the kitchen? Our Fun with Food Prep section is full of enjoyable activities to build confidence and familiarity in young helpers.
It’s tempting to say “yes” to every opportunity for summer fun, but sometimes too many summertime plans can make your “down time” feel as overscheduled as the most hectic school days! If your family is starting to burn out, keep the schedule sane by making a “family fun” jar: Have each member of the family write (or draw) things they really want to do on slips of paper and add them to a jar throughout the week. One day each week, bring the jar to your dinner table and let a designated family member pull a slip (or let each person pull one). Whatever is selected goes on the calendar; the rest remain for another time. With older kids, incorporating a discussion about why one activity should be chosen over another can be a good lesson in negotiation and planning.
Add to the fun: Keep kids invested in coming to the table by keeping a second jar of dinner games handy. Choose one from the jar each night to make the dinner table part of your summer fun! See our dinner game suggestions here.
Whether your summer fun takes you to a campground or just to the backyard, these Red, White and Blue-ers are an easy treat with patriotic flair!
Encourage an imaginative act of kindness by making “Messages in a Bottle.” Collect empty bottles (wash well!) and have family members write kind notes to friends and neighbors. Stuff the bottles and leave them anonymously on doorsteps or in mailboxes with a note that says “Messages from a friend to brighten your day! Fill this bottle for another, then give it away!”
See more ideas and conversations to inspire giving in kids!
Our July 4th Recipe for Conversation can help the whole family dig a little deeper into this month’s celebrations, going beyond the fireworks and cookouts to the meaning of the day. See it and other themed Recipes for Conversation in our new area of the site!
2023 The Family Dinner Project