School’s out for summer! No bed time, no homework, and no problems. Summer comes and goes in a flash of sunbathing, lounging by the pool, and sleeping in late. Before you know it, you’re little angels have grown into adults and are ready to graduate high school. Don’t let summer pass you by every year without creating long-lasting memories. Some of the most memorable moments in a child’s life are based on family traditions, so we have taken the liberty of creating a list of 5 family traditions (some with a twist!) that you can start this summer to bond with your family and create moments that will stay with you for a lifetime!
1. The Classic Family Vacation
Kicking off with an oldie, but a goodie…the family vacation. There’s nothing like the open road, sightseeing, and visiting new places with family to make memories that you’ll remember years from now. Add a twist to your annual vacation to keep the whole family looking forward to a trip every year. Here are a few of suggestions:
- Make a bucket list with all of the things you want to do in your life, such as travel, visit a certain number of states, catch a game in every MLB ballpark, or see certain landmarks that are quintessentially American, like the Washington Monument in DC or Mount Rushmore.
- Leave it up to chance! Choose your vacation destination by throwing darts at a map. You could have everyone throw a dart and design a route to all those places, go to the nearest landmark from the dart’s landing spot, or even scale up and use an entire world map!
Here’s a few great trip ideas across the country. If you’re struggling to figure out where you’d like to go this summer, use these lists for inspiration:
2. Backyard Movie Night
Cool air, fireflies, and barbecues are just a few of the images that immediately come to mind when you think of summer nights. Why not take advantage of the summer temps and relocate your next movie night to the backyard? For just a few dollars and a little bit of time, you can make a projector and screen and enjoy your favorite flicks in your backyard. Have your kids help out with making the projector, invite friends and neighbors over, and enjoy a lovely summer night!
- Cheap $1 projector build that uses just a shoebox, magnifying glass, and an iPhone
- Bigger projector that still only costs around 5 dollars for a 50 inch screen
- Amazon’s best selling projectors
3. Turn Off the Technology
Summer is a celebration of great weather, so get outside and appreciate the beauty of the world around us. From lush tree canopies to flowers in full bloom, we can all benefit from taking a minute or two away from our iPhones (amazing as they are) to literally smell the roses. One thing worth trying is to designate a short period of time for the family to turn off technology and enjoy each other’s company and the world around them. Have an engaging conversation with the family, play a board game, or make up a story from your imagination – your children will appreciate the breakup in routine.
An alternative to regularly enacting this rule, is to try having technology free vacations. This allows your entire family to focus on the trip and appreciate it, as well as remove any possible obligation to your life at home, which is the idea of a vacation in the first place.
You don’t have to take our word for it – check out this article about the psychological benefits of taking a break from technology.
4. Books & Cones
Many local libraries have programs that track the books kids read over the summer. Visit your library frequently and check out a book. After getting your new books, go for ice cream as a treat. It associates reading with the positive feeling of getting ice cream, and gives you time to bond with your child and discuss the book they just read!
This tradition can have great benefits for you as your child begins to age and appreciate reading. While you may not always need to escort them to the library, or monitor how much they read, instilling the value of reading in a child at a young age is a wonderful thing for their educational development. In addition, if you continue to read with them, it will keep your mind sharp and always give you a way to bond with your kids. You can even start a book club as they get older!
Check out these other ideas to keep your child reading this summer.
5. Go Camping
Camping is a great tradition to have because it requires teamwork from everyone involved, and it also teaches kids a valuable skill set. Kids learn how to start fires, pitch a tent, store food in the woods, and a number of overall valuable wilderness skills that could become one of their favorite hobbies. If you aren’t keen on the idea of completely abandoning the creature comforts of home, you can always camp out in your backyard to avoid the inherent challenges that come with the wilderness, although you might not be able to see as many stars from your house!
This tradition can go from the relatively simple task of your family camping out in your own backyard to an integral part of your vacations. The United States has more than 50 National Parks, most with some form of backcountry camping option with the proper reservations. This presents another excellent way to see the vast geological diversity of the US while spending quality time with your family.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a link that guides you through taking kids camping.