As excited as I am to get a break from being a cruise director and doling out snacks 24/7, there is something about the end of summer break that makes me so incredibly sad. Maybe it’s that the gorgeous weather will be gone soon and Chicago will soon be cold and gray for at least six solid months, or that my favorite season of parenting is over. I totally loosen up and seem to think that popsicles morph into a major food group between the months of June and August but give myself so much anxiety about packing the most perfect, healthy school lunch. Why do I torture myself like this? I’m not sure, but I do know that I want…err…NEED it to STOP. So if you too are morning the end of the fun and excitement of summer, join me in committing to have a more fun school year with your family. How? Here are some of my suggestions on how to inject more family friendly fun into the school year:
Don’t forget to RELAX
That carefree feeling that makes people simply LOVE summer? Why do you have to lose that? Yes, I know that the return of Fall means committing to a school schedule, but that doesn’t mean that your weekends can be filled with spur of the moment fun. I mean, isn’t spending the day picking apples or an evening on a haunted ghost ride a fun way to ease into the season? Resist the temptation to schedule every single moment of down time and instead live in the moment, just like you do during the summer months. Or simply say YES more often than you typically do. Here’s what happened when I became more of a “Yes Mom” (Spoiler Alert: Your house won’t burn down and you will smile a LOT more).
Make a seasonal Bucket List
I know, I know, making a Bucket List can seem a bit “Pinteresty.” Is that even a word? Well, it is now. But one of the reasons why I love working with my family on making a bucket list for every season (I’m talking Fall, Winter, Christmas, Spring, Summer…) is because everyone can contribute a fun idea or two to it, and it helps me to figure out a way to do something special to please everyone. And yes, I know it’s impossible to please everyone, but I digress… We post our seasonal bucket list in our playroom so when we are talking about what we want to do on a day off from school or a weekend, we simply pick something from the bucket list.
Make fun more accessible
One of the reasons why I say “NO” to my kids so often is because I’m tired. Exhausted, actually. So the thought of going out of my way to incorporate more fun in our lives is pretty daunting. But after reading Meredith Sinclair’s “Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit,” I came up with a few easy takeaways. One of my favorites? Putting toys on display for anyone to grab and play with. Now I’m not necessarily talking about those plastic eyesores like exersaucers or anything. Instead, I’m talking about “classic” and eye popping toys, such as a set of dominoes, magnatiles, Connect Four, Mr. Potato Head and more. Not only do they look great arranged in an artistic bowl on the dining room table, but they will also keep your kiddos busy so that you can spend more time together at the table. You can even just put out a jar filled with colored pencils and a stack of scrap paper. It doesn’t have to be fussy—just fun.
Build your community
By about late January, we are all on each other’s nerves. We are sick of being cooped up due to Chicago weather and the magic of the holiday season is over and done with. It is NO FUN. So where to turn other than a Caribbean island? Towards your community! Make family play dates, host get togethers with family and friends to watch a game or have a game night…the options are endless. Basically whatever your family is into, realize that there has to be another family out there that likes the same thing. CONNECT and have some fun, all while giving your kids some space from one another.
How are YOU planning on making injecting more fun into the school year? I’d love to hear your ideas so that we can all have a much more fun and much less stressful school year. Here are our favorite things to do at home in around the city and burbs to get the ball rolling!