It’s Summer — Pick a Theme

Sometimes, when I don’t know how to start a project, I pick a theme. I needed new pillows for my family room and focused on white. Choosing one color made shopping for them simple. When I plan a party, I pick a theme and go with it. All the little extras come together seamlessly without appearing thrown together and the whole process is easier. Even when it comes to planning a simple meal, finding a cohesive thread makes the shopping and preparing easier. Sometimes I make a meal in one of the kids’ favorite colors … I know, I’m a dork.

woman's hand, number one, one thing Why not give your summer a theme? The hot months fly by so quickly. I often find myself crawling into September in a Chardonnay, sunburned, sandy haze, saying, “What the hell just happened? Is it over already? Did we do anything??” More often than not, the problem isn’t nothing to do, it is too many options. All the pressure of free time ends up with us on the beach ordering pizza and opening a bottle of grapes. Not that this is a bad thing, but establishing a little focus can be good too.

Choosing a theme is easy. Just think of one thing you’d like to accomplish.

If you want to focus on academics:

family reading, mom and kids reading, reading to kidsThe Summer of Reading:
– set time aside for reading together
– read the same books and discuss casually
– read the newspaper aloud
– actually visit the library with the intention of spending a couple hours
– organize an online book club with your child’s friends
– play word games

apples, two plus two, math problemsThe Summer of Math:
– math is everywhere, talk about it when you drive, when you cook, when you play
– play board games and card games
– give your children math challenges and reward the effort with ice pops

 

If you want to focus on family time:

The Summer of Quality Time
– turn off the devices, all of them, for a couple hours a day
– let each of your children plan their perfect day
– walk together
– do a project in the house together, but really let them help (perfection is overrated)

girl with guitar, girl playing guitarIf you want to focus on experiences:
– plan ahead, look now for deals on local experiences and opportunities
– make a bucket list of the things you want to see, but keep it reasonable
Try a:
Baseball Stadium Summer (can be minor league games to cut down on cost)
City Summer – There are so many nearby cities to explore that are close enough by car or train.
Park Summer – from Central Park to Great Adventure to the playground nearby, there are lots of parks to explore, each with something to offer.

happy family walkingIf you want to focus on health and well being:
Foodie Summer – commit to trying new foods and new recipes, all with a focus on good- for-you.
Hiking/Biking Summer – Park the car and leave it. Explore new trails. Set a goal of a more challenging trail and work toward it.
Do Nothing Summer – Sometimes the best thing we can give our kids is time to do nothing. If you feel your family is over-scheduled and over-stressed, plan to not plan. The focus here is on mental health.

If you want to focus on you … GO FOR IT!
You work your tail off 10 months out of the year to make sure everyone has clean clothes, homework done, enough sleep, a ride to every Godforsaken practice, three square meals, plus endless snacks and an overall sense of security and value. If you want to take two months off and let it go, make your summer theme …

feet up in hammockThe Summer of YOU

You’ll be a better parent in September and the kids will know how to do laundry. Everyone wins!

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.

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