“It's summertime, summertime, Sum-sum-summertime. Summertime, summertime, Sum-sum-summertime, Summertime, summertime, Sum-sum-summertime. Summerti-i-me”
Summer is in full swing. After about a week of lounging on the couch, you realized how much time you have on your hands. You can only watch so many of episodes of your favorite show before you start getting stir crazy. What are you and your family going to do with your extra 35 hours per week?
Have you been outside lately? I don’t mean just for a walk to the mailbox. Do you spend time outside drinking in the sunshine and admiring the flowers? That question reminds me of a great story, a family favorite. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson tells the tale of a young bull who’d rather sit under a tree and smell the flowers than bullfight. Ferdinand was grateful for the simple pleasures of nature. What about you?
Years ago, when I started working in my garden, my kids joined me. As we dug in the dirt removing the weeds, we discovered snails and worms. These findings sparked the interest of my then five-year old daughter. It wasn’t long until she and her friends were digging in the dirt with me. They found an old box and transformed it into the little creatures’ habitat. Soon they had a collection of live snails, earthworms and other insects. My daughter delighted in her new pets. They slept in her room and joined us at the breakfast table. She couldn’t wait to spend more time looking for additional members of her dirt-loving family. Like Ferdinand, my daughter knows how to enjoy nature.
Now I’m not suggesting that you let your kids dig up your back yard, but I do challenge you to go outside. You can do many of the things you’d usually do in the house outdoors – eat, read, nap, talk. Or you could do something more adventurous – go for a bike ride, shoot some hoops, take a hike in the woods, skateboard in the park, play hide-n-seek. Whatever you do, get outside! Enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of Summer.
How about this? Take time together today to write a list of things you can do during the long Summer days. This is your Do Something list. Here’s how it works. For each of the topics below, write what you can do. I’ve given you an example to get you thinking.
Do Something Adventurous: take a family hike at a State Park
Do Something Intelligent: visit your local library and read a novel by your favorite author
Do Something Kind: mow your elderly neighbor’s lawn
Do Something Silly: play dress up with your family and go out for ice cream
Do Something New: go birdwatching
Do Something Early: watch a sunrise
Do Something Creative: paint a mural of your neighborhood
Do Something Scientific: perform an experiment on why helium balloons float
Do Something Green: recycle old batteries lying in the kitchen drawer
Do Something Old-fashioned: write a letter on paper to a friend or relative in another state
Once you have your ideas on paper, you are ready to get moving. Live life to the fullest! Be active. Do something good for yourself, for others, and for your community. This Summer, Love In A Big World!
Tips to share with the children in your life:
- Be active! Practice your favorite sport. Or maybe you could find a new activity, like bike riding or trail running. You can exercise with your family. Have a good time and stay fit!
- Read for the fun of it! Visit your local library or your favorite book store and discover what types of stories you like best. Sci-fi? Pioneer? Mysteries? Journey to another planet. Meet the Queen of England. Answer questions about life as a Mayan warrior. Get lost in a book!
- Volunteer! Whether it’s helping at the local animal shelter, teaching younger kids at summer camp or traveling to another country on a mission trip, there’s a lot you can do to give to others. For ideas, check out the bulletin board at your local community center or place of worship. Serve together as a family.
- Try something new! Have you ever wanted to learn how to form a family band, speak Spanish or make a cheesecake? Well, here’s your chance! You’ve got plenty of time to try, so have fun and make some memories.
About the author
Tamara Fyke is a creative entrepreneur with a passion for kids, families, and urban communities. She is the creator and founder of BlueWonder Creative which focuses on children's mental health and wellness in education through Love In A Big World and healthcare through Brav3Up. She is a leader for community programs as well as in-school support services, program development, and research. Tamara received her master’s degree in education from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development and worked at Vanderbilt’s Center for Safe & Supportive Schools. She is editor of Building People: SEL for Kids, Families, Schools and Communities which will be re-released in June 2023 and author of Family Matters: Thriving as One which will be released in July. She is the proud mother of three grown children and resides in Nashville, TN.