In June we decided to face the summer head on and bravely step where we had not gone before: Summer Fun. We had some pint-sized inspiration which I talked about on my first post in this series and we followed it through 10 Dares of Summer Fun. You may have already caught up on some of our fun like the time we saw one of the Wonders of the World, the time I put on my big girl pants and left the city, or when I tried to share about the Dares I didn’t directly participate in. I’m back today with a final wrap up on our Summer Dare Chart; what it taught me, how it needs to be tweaked, and why we will do it again.
Summer vacation here starts off on a good note because it begins with a holiday. We got ourselves up in some crazy heat and headed down to the local Canada Day Celebrations. Our hit list was simple: parade and face painting. We got there at a great time, little to no wait for the face paint, and slowly made our way to where we would watch the parade.
But then things stopped being so smooth. The kids had to visit at a home with no toys or video games. It was hot. They had no idea what to do with themselves and they got a little cranky. It was hot. Then we had to walk for, like, ever as we found, first, a toilet and then a spot to sit and watch the fireworks. It was hot. And it poured on us. Cats and Dogs poured, for about 5 minutes.
Our first dare taught me two things. One: We are not a heat-loving people. So much so that I am sure a trip to Florida in August would make DisneyWorld a torture chamber as opposed to the Happiest Place on Earth. Two: Temper tantrums and upsets do not hang around in the minds of our kids the way they hang around in ours. After a mere 10 seconds of fireworks the mouths that had been spouting negativity in every form where now Ooohhhhing and Aaahhhing in amazement and delight. Sure they were upset about all that walking, but as soon as the walking stopped- so did the upset.
Next up was the two weeks the kids spent at local half-day VBS programs. They enjoyed singing, games, crafts, snacks, and friends. I enjoyed some time to myself- er with just one child, which feels like time alone when you have five kids. From these two dares I learned that it is important for our family to have space. It is important for us to have our own interests and experiences and it is important for us to come together on purpose to learn from each other and share our worlds with each other. I also learned how easily tempted I can be to simply drop my kids off. Serving does not end in the summer, it is important for me to invest year round.
Then we went swimming. At a friend’s pool and we invited other friends along. It was an awesome time. Just a couple of hours, no big preparations or production. Gratefully the weather cooperated. Summer is fun with friends.
The things I learned from this dare: Don’t become isolated in the summer. I easily assume that everyone else is away at camp, or the cottage, or an amazing adventure. Truth is, most families are at home doing what they do the other 10 months of the year. Call people, invite them into your fun. No one is an island, not even in tropical weather. I also learned that water play totally wears kids out. I swear the only days they slept in were the ones right after we went swimming.
Then we went to the Drive In. It’s another thing I’m learning to love. Unfortunately I forgot my camera and so I don’t have any pictures, (if there aren’t any pictures did it really happen!?!). The only bummer thing about the Drive-In was the lack of child friendly movies. We were at the screen with no bathroom and had to walk through another lot to get to the bathroom. Just my luck that the movie playing on that screen was Sex Tape and, well, I avoided a lot of questions on that short walk. Aw-kward.
The kids had a blast at Sports Camp, some more of that space we needed in our summers and did not previously have. I really learned the importance of balance- I do not need to spend 67 days on 24/7 mom duty, and I do not need to feel guilty for saying that. The day after Sports Camp ended The Hubster left for the Dominican Republic on a missions trip and I braved a Dare solo. We went to the local Sand Dunes. It was a dare that went a little awry. It was cool when we left, but the temperature jumped about 10 degrees in a 5 minute span. It was a very short trip as we had already learned we are not a heat-loving people.
I also learned a lesson about perspective. All I saw was how close the highway was. All I heard was the parents constantly reminding their children not to play because they would get dirty. All I thought was, why did I think this was going to be a day trip? But the kids ran around in a maze of hills. They were in awe of how big the dunes are. The L’il Man would have run around at full speed for hours if I let him. We stayed for an hour. We left with dirty bums. They loved sliding down the slopes and walking on the ridges. They all want to come back with Daddy. Perspective changes everything.
We switched up one of the dares on our list. We decided to hit up the CNE in Toronto. The weather was cooperating. Grandma and Grandpa had come to visit so there were extra hands. We had free admission coupons. We are the kind of people that do things like the CNE frugally. We took in the free shows, walked about the free exhibits. The kids spent their paper route money on the only souvenir we left with. I brought snacks and lunch. We were home in time for dinner. This dare reminded me of the importance of planning. When you plan ahead you can have fun without the stress of your bank account, and that makes a world of difference. Doing your homework on an event may take some time, but time equals money. Spend the time or spend the money. Plus, there is so much fun stuff at the CNE for free, you don’t leave feeling like you missed a thing.
Like stinkin cool exhibits. (This is a sand castle folks.)
Shows and interactive experiences.
And things you’ll never see anywhere else. (Yup, Optimus Prime, hello fandom!)
We wrapped up our summer with a day trip to my Grampa’s trailer, that would be my kids Great-Grampa. It’s so cool to me that we have these three-generation days, not everyone gets to experience that and I know we are blessed, not once but twice over as my children have met and spent time with all my grandparents. We spend some time catching up, we eat a meal together, we sit and watch some wildlife, and (the highlight), we go on a boat ride around the lake seeing how it has changed over the 40+ years my grandparents have called this their home away from home. When we tallied up our Dare points for the day everyone gave this day of simple fun top scores. There were a few 9s out of 10s, but all points were deducted because we missed spending the day with Nana, who passed away earlier this year.
Having fun at every age.
Recognizing that no daydream compares to the present moment.
As you can see from the photo, our Summer was totally Un-Bummer, (and you may notice math is not my forte). It was a great summer and we will repeat this idea again next year. Having dates on the calendar just like during the school year gave our summer a momentum that saved me from counting down to Labor Day. Having activities for both family fun and times the kids were away from us was a nice balance and kept me from burning out. Doing things we have always loved and new things let everyone have a new experience and no one felt like we were catering to the ‘baby’. And because we had planned our summer in advance, all our money went to the right place. There was no last minute pizza-ordering to save an awful day or trips to the mall to try and retail therapy ourselves through the summer, (all things we’ve done in the past). I’m trying to live by this motto:
Our summer experiment will need to be tweaked a bit for next year though. We had our Dare days, and then the other days were just laying at home doing nothing. We watched copious amounts of TV. The kids ran around the neighbourhood unsupervised and, quite honestly, bored more often than I wish they had. We need to add in some routine like regular library days and a flow to our days at home that involves more than couch surfing. I also noticed that the Eldest had a totally negative attitude about all things simple fun; like walking in the woods, or movie nights at home, playing in the sprinkler, or even Lego on sunny days. I want my kids to know the simple joy in the small things and so while I am already tempted to fill next year’s Dare Chart with Wonderland, First Live Concert, Sleep-Away Camp and the like, I need to remember not to rob my kids of simple pleasures.
All in all, it was a great summer. Summer is still my least favourite season, but my hatred level has been downgraded to dislike, and that’s a leap for me. Now onto the fall; Autumn I love you.