Not only are "pick your own" farms a great way to let kids run and play outdoors, they can be a "remedy" of sorts for even the pickiest eaters. When kids get the first-hand experience of where fresh produce actually comes from, and have the opportunity to pick it themselves, you may be shocked at the interest they'll form around natural fare! Check out pickyourown.org to search for a farm, and to find out what fresh crops are being harvested in your town.
Pick one specific time of summer (either at the very start, middle or end) for an annual family night party that you hold in the backyard. Get creative with the activities for the night, and try to choose fun that will be appropriate for all ages so you can form lasting traditions you can maintain as the kids grow. For example, using a cross-stitch hoop as your "stencil," spray paint rows of blue, red, yellow and green circles right onto the lawn to create your own backyard Twister board. As dinner warms on the grill, hold a family Twister tournament. Serve watermelon for dessert, and follow it with a seed-spitting contest. Once the stars go down, bring out the sparklers.
The night of the last day of school, have a family ice cream night to welcome in the lazy days ahead. Once kids change into their pajamas, head out for ice cream and "cheers" to the start of another great summer! The novelty of doing what would typically be the "unthinkable" on a school night will give summer break a memorable kick-off that will last in their minds well into adulthood.
Something about visiting a playground in a new neighborhood makes everything seem fresh and exciting. Designate one summer day for "park tours." Pack a cooler with drinks, snacks and light lunch foods, and spend the day touring different parks and playgrounds that kids don’t otherwise experience. When the kids get hungry, bring out the cooler for an impromptu picnic in the park.
Trips to the water park are fun for all ages, making "water park day" a tradition that even teens will (secretly) enjoy. Increase the vacation factor by staying the night at a moderately-priced hotel with a pool, and make a night of it. Kids will love the break in the routine, and it can provide a great unwinding experience for adults, eliminating the stress of worrying about traffic or tired drives home at the end of a long day.
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