I’m having a “Magical Unicorn” kind of summer with my kids and I am not ashamed to admit it.
During those cool spring months, I began to envision what our summer would look like. And to be honest, I was nervous. Not because our summers are horrible or anything, but because it can be challenging. Those videos and memes created by parents depicting the struggles that come with summer break are both hilarious and truthful.
Then I thought back to my own childhood. Those long, hot summer days where we stayed outside until the street lights came on. Riding our bikes through the neighborhood, using whatever nature had to offer to set the scene for the best game of imaginary play, or racing down the street to the faint sounds of the ice cream truck. These were some of the best memories from my childhood, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized this was the kind of summer I wanted to give my kids.
So I decided to changed my perception of what I thought it should be and did a complete overhaul of my own expectations. I tossed out my calendar of activities in favor of a simple summer and it’s perfect.
5 Tips To Achieve a “Magical Unicorn” Summer (You still have time!)
1. Read the book, “Balanced and Barefoot” by Angela J. Hanscom.
This book explains the importance of unstructured outdoor play for children as it relates to the mental, emotional, and physical health. I know this concept is nothing new to parents, but the author does a great job of explaining every aspect in detail. You’ll be inspired to help your children prioritize going barefoot outside, having complex playground equipment, learning to climb trees, and playing with sticks.
2. Outside Unstructured Play
I made our goal for the summer simple: be outside as much as possible. So every morning after breakfast we head outside until lunchtime. Honestly, I was a little nervous at first. My oldest thrives on a plan, and here I was tossing it out the window.
For the first few weeks she would ask, “What are we doing in the morning?” To which I replied, “Playing outside.” At first, this answer was far too broad for my busy bee to comprehend. Then slowly, but surely, she caught on to the adventures of a simple summer. Now, I can find her lining up the chairs on the deck, as they transform into a cave or dark tunnel to crawl through.
3. Say good-bye to Pinterest
Don’t get me wrong–I love Pinterest as much as the next person, but you have to make clear boundaries. I decided to ditch the “DIY Summer Activity” boards in favor of keeping it simple.
If you simply cannot live without a few Pinterest-worthy ideas, then keep it as low maintenance as possible. Instead of filling boards up with a long list of activities that are sure to keep you busy until winter, choose a few 2-3 step activities that can be repeated throughout the summer.
4. Family Walks
Almost every evening you can spot my family on a long walk after dinner. My oldest likes to run through the “Enchanted Forest”, as she calls it, while playing an imaginary game. My youngest like to play a game of catch with my husband as she hops out of her stroller to go running down the path. It’s always a beautiful finish to our day, melting away any rough spots and sinking us further into this beautiful summer. A summer that I can truly say I don’t want to end.
5. Limit Technology
It’s so easy to want to pick up our phones for that quick, mindless scroll through social media. I get it. But please don’t. Instead, put it away or give yourself a limit. I have spent most mornings cell-phone free and it’s been amazing! I don’t check emails or answer messages until nap time. Trust me when I say you don’t want to miss out on the race through the forest or the finger-painting masterpiece!
If there was one piece of advice or profound sliver of information I could leave you with, it’s this: embrace the mess, be positive, and get outside. Be in favor of a simple summer and hug those babies.