Summer always seems like such a magical time that goes by much too quickly. Work obligations and the rush of daily life make it hard to remember to take advantage of these three blissful months. Don’t fall into that rut this year! Create a summer bucket list to make every day special. Here are nine ideas to get you and your family started and out in the sun.
Pack a picnic and head to the nearest park. Obviously you will be the only one eating a meal, but many new parents don’t realize that they should take advantage of their children being so small that parents can eat by themselves. Before you know it, your baby will be trying to steal bites off your plate instead of enjoying her bottle quietly. Sit in the shade and appreciate your child being content with just lying on a blanket with you.
2. Check out the pet store together. Pet stores are amazing sensory experiences for young children. Look at the fish together. Help them pet the chinchillas and kittens. Talk to them about the different animals and watch them experience them for the first time.
3. Go on a sensory tour. This can be as simple as a walk around your own backyard. Babies love exploring new textures and sights. Show them the leaves on a tree and talk about the seasons changing. Lay in the grass together and help them run their hands across it. Collect a pile of rocks and flowers and describe them to your baby. Help them discover the world around them.
4. Be artists for the day. The sky is the limit for this idea. Try out as many media as possible in one day. Have your toddler help you make your own Playdough and finger paint. Make monograms and contact paper collages. Paint on the sidewalk using only water and paint brushes. Color a huge chalk mural and then use it for a photo shoot.
5. Find a new park. The whole idea of this is to break out of your usual routine. Yakima has tons of parks with many different features that make them unique. Play soccer at Chesterley Park. Walk through with labyrinth together at Gilbert Park. Check out the water playgrounds at Martin Luther King and Miller parks. Better yet, play in every single park this summer.
6. Visit the Farmers’ Market. The Farmers’ Market has more than enough to keep a young child’s attention for a whole afternoon. Listen to the local music together and take in the artwork. Try a new bread or hot sauce made by someone who lives right here in our community. Have your children help you pick you some new vegetables or fruits to take home. (See yakimafarmersmarket.org for information.)
For Big Kids
7. Visit another country from the comfort of your own home. Research your child’s favorite foreign country with him or her and make a day out of your findings. Make your own Mexican food for lunch with authentic recipes, learn a few words in Italian or make Chinese tea eggs together.
8. Host “family Olympics” in your backyard. Get together your whole family for one amazing afternoon. Before the big day decide on an event for each age group, such as sack races for school-age kids. Do multiple events for each age group and pick an overall winner based on more than just the one at the finish line so that everyone is included. Give out homemade medals after each event and provide snacks for the whole group.
9. Have a paint war. Fill water balloons up with washable paints of various colors and lay out a tarp in your backyard. Put all of the filled water balloons into a plastic swimming pool and go nuts. I promise this afternoon alone will get you inducted in the parents’ “Hall of Fame.”