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Strengthening Families Throughout the Summer

This has been an unusual year for everyone, but life is getting back to normal again. That means summer fun and spending time with family. For parents, it can be a challenging feat to keep children entertained but with some creativity, summertime can be a pleasurable pastime which will create memories that will last a lifetime. As an old Chinese proverb says: “A family in harmony will prosper in everything.” Here are a few ideas:

Vacation: There is something positive to be gained when families travel together by car, bus or plane to a new adventure. Parents create unforgettable memories as you get away from the norm and explore other places. Beaches, boating, museums, hiking, ziplining, camping and many other adventures can build a family closeness which will have lasting affects throughout the year.

Creative Activities: Children love activity and parents can be the catalyst of some fun times during the summer. One activity I did with my children was build a puppet theater. We bought puppets and made our own with old socks, buttons and yarn. Our stage was an appliance box with some material and rope used as a curtain. Children can paint the puppet theater and create stories to act out with the puppets as this can continue all summer long. There are other ideas like art day with paints and paper, glitter and other natural items to create beautiful pictures.

Get to know your neighbors: These ideas can create positive activities for not only your own family but your neighbors as well.

1. Create a Carnival: Anyone with a front or back yard can create a carnival atmosphere with games and activities for their own and neighbor children. Empty garages can be a great place to set up tables for tic-tac-toe, coloring, ping pong, checkers or chess. Help your children put together their own games everyone can play such as ring toss, bean bag toss, a fishing game, corn hole, hopscotch or even a simple putt-putt course. Older children can run each area and keep an eye on the younger children. Remember to include drinks, prizes for the winners and treats for all.

2. Set up “Slip n’ Slide” and other water activities: Nothing goes well together better than children and water. Sprinklers, small pools or slip n’ slide apparatuses with drinks and snacks as in popsicles, fruit, popcorn, cupcakes or cookies are a big hit with all children.

3. Neighborhood Barbeque: This activity is a bit bigger in scale but I have known many families who have sponsored a neighborhood barbecue successfully. Pick a day (that hopefully will not rain) and pass out flyers to neighbors about your activity. Follow up with a sign up for side dishes and plan a few fun games for the children. Evening barbeques after the heat of the day are nice and you can hang lights around the yard for added illumination.

Blessings of closer relationships come to families when spending time together. However you decide to spend your time with family over the summer is a positive force for good. Erma Bombeck says it well about growing up in her family: “We were a strange little band of characters, trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.” Summertime activity can promote this common thread which binds us all together as relationships are developed and strengthened during the summer with playful adventures.

Valerie Hollobaugh: NAFFA Public Relations/Economic Coordinator

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