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Posted July 22, 2013
by Rachel Thomas, Guest Contributor
I always loved having my kids home from school. I loved spending time with them
and thinking of fun things to do. We live in an area that is pretty much hot
and humid almost all year around so in the summer it is just hotter than usual. We have had to come
up with some pretty creative ways to stay cool because we do not have a built
in swimming pool at our house.
We did purchase an above the ground pool which all the kids had a great time in.
Along with the pool we would play in the sprinkler and play games with water
balloons. The kids used to like to play a form of baseball with the water
balloons, one would pitch and one would bat and both would end up getting wet
if they made a hit! That was the fun of it. Or the water balloon toss where you
toss it back and forth moving farther and farther apart until someone misses
and get soaked or it breaks in their hands. Water guns are another “cool” way
to play with water and have some fun. The bigger the better and the more they
got wet. When it gets hot these are great ways to have a good time. Just make
sure you have a lot of towels on hand; with a warm bath afterwards you should
have children ready to sleep!
Most kids love to camp and this is another great summer activity depending on where
you live of course. In our neck of the woods it is often too hot to camp in the
summer so we usually camp in the spring or fall here. If you live in more
moderate climates that get cool at night or in the evenings then camping is
ideal. Especially if you camp near a lake where you can drop a line and catch a
fish or jump in the cool lake for a swim. Hiking, biking, eating out of doors,
and seeing all kinds of wildlife up close can be a blast for children. It can
be a real treat for kids that are used to the city life but roasting
marshmallows over a campfire or making smores is fun for all.
Taking full on vacations can be fun but for those of us who cannot take long vacations
day trips can be a great time for the whole family. My mom used to babysit my
kids while I worked and would often take the kids on a day trip to places
within an hour or two of home every week. They would visit museums, the zoo,
water falls, lakes, and do things like fish, rock climb, hike, bird watch, pick
wild berries, and on and on. Most of us live within a couple hours of
interesting activities and we do not even know it. There are no mountains per
se in our area but there are several nice hilly locations. My children loved to
go and climb these hills and for younger children it can seem like a mountain
climb and they get a big kick out of it! The zoo in our area has a water
feature that the kids can run through to stay cool along with a manmade lake
with paddle boats and a small train. Browse the internet to find neat things to
do within a couple hours of your home and you will be surprised. Kids even like
going to farmer’s markets, and often they have ranches or farms open to the
public to pet animals, milk a cow, pick your own fruits and vegetables, and
maybe even ride a horse. Take advantage of all the interesting places that are nearby,
you may be surprised at what you are missing by traveling great distances for
vacations when you have all these things to do so close to home!
Another fun activity that we do in our family is to have family bike rides to the park
and we would take along a picnic as well. The kids loved riding bikes as a
family and ending up at the local park to play and eat. If you do not have a
local park then you can find a nice park within driving distance and plan a picnic
meal with your family. This is a wonderful way to spend time as a family. Take
along a football, baseball equipment, Frisbees, or fishing poles if the park
has a lake. There are some really nice parks around the cities and all the
state parks (which there are many) allow you to come in for the day for a small
fee and use their tables, playground equipment, and have access to the lakes as
well. Most of them are covered in trees for plenty of shade and you can take
along chairs and blankets so that you can sit and chat or even lie down for a
nap. We have often camped or spent the day at one of our state campgrounds and
they are all very well maintained and a very safe place for a family gathering.
One summer we camped near a lake where you could rent a fishing boat and we taught
the kids to paddle the boat (which is no easy feat). They had a great time out
in the boat; of course they had on life preservers, and loved fishing from the
boat as well. You can sometimes catch much bigger fish boating into the center
of the lake than you can from the shore. This is a real treat for kids that are
not raised near a body of water. We ended up catching turtles instead of fish
sometimes but it adds excitement when something unexpected shows up on the end
of the line. It is especially exciting for us as parents!
Going to the neighborhood pool or a water park is another fun way to spend a hot
summer’s day. Depending on the rules of the pool or park you can sometimes take
a cooler of drinks and food with you and have a picnic but often they require
you to purchase their food and drinks. We found one that we like that lets us
bring in our own which is way more economical and everyone can get a drink or
eat at their leisure. But usually I have to round my kiddos up and get them to
eat and drink because they are having too much fun to take a break. You have to
be careful to make sure they are hydrated and protected with extra sun screen
from time to time to prevent anyone getting burnt or sick.
We live in an area where there are rivers that they allow you to ride inner tubes
on. It mostly a nice gentle ride and we tie our tubes together so that no one
gets too far away. From time to time you come upon a little waterfall of sorts
that pushes you along faster all depending on the rainfall that we had that
year. You want to be sure if you go somewhere like this that the water is high
enough because you can bottom out as well and it is not a lot of fun to walk
your way down river! The people you rent the tubes from have a place at the end
of the river to turn in your tubes and get a ride back to your cars. The
children loved doing this and it makes for a nice, cool day. You can rent a
tube for your cooler as well and have it floating along besides
Some of these things do depend on what part of the country you live in but in every
part of this great country of ours there are sights to be seen and things to be
experienced if you do a little research. Many times we wait for our vacations
and plan big events to have all our fun in a two week period of time but there
are so many fun activities that you can find to do close to home. You can find
something fun to do every week with your kids if you get creative and do a
little research. You will probably be surprised at all the activities you can
find where you live!
Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a
graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She
welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @
Posted May 14, 2013
by Lianne Castelino, www.whereparentstalk.com
As we look high and low for consistent signs of spring, our three offspring are well-entrenched in summer sports activities, namely, baseball, softball, soccer and ball hockey. They love it, we love them loving it. It's all good. Mercifully, our boys are on the same soccer and baseball teams and are able to transport themselves when required, so the schedule is very manageable.
What is increasingly unmanageable though is the behaviour that after all these years of participating in, watching my kids play and hearing about my friends' kids experiences is --- parental behaviour. Questionable, largely unethical, disrespectful words, thoughts and actions carried out by (thankfully) a minority of individuals, who are increasingly growing in number, ever so slowly.
You may have met some of them. They stack teams, yell comments, usually don't lift a finger to volunteer as a coach, assistant coach, vociferously question calls, coaching decisions, bend the rules left, right and centre, slyly encourage cheating, winning at all cost, or they run everything and control teams, gavmes, outcomes, standings and the like from their lofty perch. Tons o' fun.
Our family has watched this behaviour at various venues and against a litany of backdrops/arenas/fields for years. We usually don't say anything and watch these people derail themselves. But still, to this day it still amazes me.
When adults display an overt need to WIN vicariously through their children no matter the circumstances, something must be said. They are fashioning children who will likely do the same. Great -- a whole new generation of cheaters awaits.
Note to them: get over yourselves, it is only a game, remember your age, and finally, if you can't do any of these, STAY HOME.
The problem with saying nothing, as I have said to my kids on occasion, is that inaction, inevitably supports this cheating behaviour. By the same token, saying something, anything pits a RATIONAL mind against an IRRATIONAL one. Who do you think will 'win' that debate?
In our family, we joke about it. Not ideal, but you've gotta laugh to keep your sanity.
Fortunately, for whatever reason, my kids have always landed on teams with fair and sane coaches. We tell them to accept whatever team they are on and whomevery their teammates are, even though most other teams feature stacked lineups built for minor sports supremacy. We tend to repeat to them the refrain -- 'you get what you get and you don't get upset'. None of these factors ever seems to bother them. Even the few times they have the option to choose friends/teammates to play with, they elect to choose one with the belief that selecting more than one is not fair to everyone else. I don't know where this all comes from, but we support it wholeheartedly.
Apart from the infantile behaviour of these 'overzealously competitive parents', the people I feel bad for most are their children. They will likey grow up to expect their mom or dad to gallop in on a white horse and rescue them when they don't win in life. Too bad it doesn't work that way. Can you spell depression, anxiety, failure complex?
I also feel bad for those coaches who choose to play by the rules, who don't realize or figure out too late that this type of behaviour is out there. They innocently put together teams, lineups, dedicate their time and effort to volunteering as coaches, etc., only to see their teams lose repeatedly or have their genuine efforts undermined by this 'unfair' element.
As I brace to watch these various dramas unfold, (some have started from day one), I wonder, who are the real children here? Even the smallest of children understand the basic prinicples of right from wrong don't they?
Posted May 9, 2013
by Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
Several years ago now, I learned a term within a business setting, taught by a consultant who was brought in to educate us on a bunch of different things. He was good, his message most interesting. I took several things away from it. One of them was one of the 'golden rules' in business, but you could easily argue in life and most certainly in parenting.
Under promise. Over deliver.
Succinct, powerful, logical and rational. And absolutely bang on.
Lately, and perhaps there is a correlation between the nuttiness of life these days, the speed at which we all seem to be moving, whether by choice or necessity, I have experienced a litany of people, situations, circumstances where people are NOT doing what they say they are going to do.
I personally have a 3-strike rule. People get three chances to screw up in my book (weighed by the level of the screw up), before I start to write them off and spend less time, energy or anything else on them.
But when it comes to bigger, more official people in positions of power who are merely paying lip service, saying they will 'get back to you by...', 'call you on this date', 'follow up with you tomorrow at 4pm', etc., etc., and then turn around and DO NOT DO what they say they are going to do, I slowly become irate.
Why commit yourself to such specifics, if you likely have absolutely no intention of fulfilling it? Or if you know you aren't going to be able to fulfill the promise, for goodness sake let that person who is expecting the promise to be delivered --- KNOW ABOUT IT.
Have we become so ignorant as a society, do we lack empathy to such a degree that we need to behave like this?
We are always telling our kids ---- 'do what you say you are going to do'. If that is to clean your room, take out the garbage, whatever. Don't tell us what you think we want to hear, and then under-deliver. That is irritating.
For people who set their personal bars high (which I do), under promising and over-delivering can be a frightful and foreign concept. I have come to learn that is it more a lifeline and a reality check.
It makes far more sense to set a realistic bar, deliver on it, then incrementally lift that bar higher as you move forward.
No different in parenting. Just when you think your kids are not paying attention, they remember what you said in frustration last Saturday when you promised to buy ice cream or a toy or whatever --- when your offspring finally settled down or did their chores, etc.
There is nothing more aggravating than over promising and under delivering. It shows a blatant lack of respect, in my view for everyone involved. It seems to be sport these with people aided and assisted by technology --- hiding behind technology issues, voice mail collapses, dropped calls, and every other excuse in the book to defend themselves for not delivering.
Helping child set and achieve goals, set realistic expectations and achieve them is as important as any lesson we may teach our children in their lives. It certainly is not easy, especially we are are running around town not doing what we say we are going to do.