Planning for Summer

sprinklers
source: jodimichelle via Flickr Creative Commons

In this month’s print issue of ParentLife, writer Emily Pardy urges us to grasp on to “Summer Sanity” by making a list of priorities and plans for the summer. Have you been doing that? I’ve been thinking a lot about how summer will go around our house.

In the fall, my three children will be in second grade, kindergarten, and 3-year-old preschool. I am pregnant, so this will be the last summer for awhile we can take advantage of having all children who know how to hold hands in a parking lot and I’m not too worried about killing each other if we send them outside for half an hour. But because I am pregnant, this also may be a summer where I need more rest than usual. We may or may not be moving apartments. We have a lot of “ifs” up in the air.

So we haven’t really made any firm plans – camps, many trips, etc. Usually we schedule our older two for at least one week of day camp, but we’ve decided to put that on the back burner for now.

Here are my priorities for the summer:

  • Take our third annual beach vacation to Tybee Island. We all enjoy this; it’s relaxing, and we have fun.
  • Go swimming. If needed, get swim lessons for my 7-year-old to be fully competent as a swimmer.
  • Send kids to “Nana Camp” and “Grandma Camp.” We are so blessed to have both sets of our parents within driving distance, and they LOVE having the kids come to stay for a couple days during the summer. The kids love getting one-on-one time. We get to spend a little more one-on-one time with the kids left at home, too. It’s nice to mix things up.
  • Help my 7-year-old daughter become proficient in the kitchen – and get my 5-year-old son started, too. They both love cooking and have been inspired by MasterChef, Jr. I can be a little too territorial about my kitchen space, but I want all my kids to learn to cook.
  • Playground hop in Chattanooga.
  • Spend time with great friends.
  • Encourage reading.

I also intend to let the kids make a little bucket list of things they want to do or places to go. I won’t promise to do everything, but I want to let them play a role there.

Have you started planning for summer? As Pardy writes, summer can be the right time for “structure, sunshine, skill-building, and sleep.” Sleep. There is a summer plan I can get behind!

Summer Fun Idea — Children’s Garden

My Big Backyard logo web.jpgAt ParentLife, we receive a lot of information about children’s activities and events to consider and pass along to readers. Occasionally we receive information on something truly unique. That’s what I thought when I read about Memphis Botanic Garden’s new children’s garden My Big Backyard!

My Big Backyard is filled with spaces catering to kids of all ages from toddlers on up — or those who are just kids at heart! There is something for everyone. Created on 2.5 acres, the children’s garden is designed to bring to life the best of every backyard adventure ever dreamed about. The $5.8 million project will feature 16 unique educational and imagination inspiring areas for children to learn, explore, play, and dream.

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The grand opening for the new garden is this Saturday. Admission is free this Saturday only 9 a.m.-Noon and will feature a grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony at 11:00. But it is an affordable day visit at other times. Admission to all areas of the Botanic Garden is $5.00 for adults, $4.00 for seniors, $3.00 for children (3-12) and free to children under two and to Members.  For more information visit www.memphisbotanicgarden.com

Nature Rocks!

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Nature Rocks is an initiative created to inspire and empower parents across the country to take their families to play, explore, and enjoy quality time in nature. Nature Rocks has been designed to ensure that all families – regardless of budget, kids’ ages, or experience – can plan affordable and fun activities in nature that encourage family bonding and nurture happier, healthier, and smarter children.

As part of its efforts to empower parents to take their kids outside, Nature Rocks introduces its 2009 Summer Nature Staycation Planning Guide. Available at www.naturerocks.org, this free guide provides parents and caregivers with information and tools to enjoy no- or low-cost summer vacations in nature that are close to home. 

Developed through a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, REI, The Children & Nature Network, and ecoAmerica, Nature Rocks is designed to to inspire and empower families to play and explore in nature — as fun, family bonding in nature helps kids become happier, healthier, and smarter.

The Web site, www.naturerocks.org, provides parents over 100 fun, inexpensive, interesting, and safe activities based on specific criteria including location, kids’ ages, and time available. Additionally families can find activities in their immediate area via an easy zip code search tool. Because of its range of activities, Nature Rocks ensures that all families, whether outdoor enthusiasts or nature novices, can get involved in nature the way that suits them best. 

What do you like to do in nature with your kids during summer?