Summer Vacation Sanity Saver!

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Tomorrow is officially the first day of Summer, but many of you with school-age children have already started your summers with school ending for most students this week (Finally here in Michigan!  We all had a lot of snow days to make up!)  I am a teacher so I am very blessed to be able to enjoy lots of time with my kids during the summer.  Those endless days can seem pretty dreamy at the beginning of summer vacation, but I find that all too soon those free days result in restless kids hanging around saying they are bored, or the temptation of too much TV or electronics creep in.

I’ve seen a lot of ideas floating around on Pinterest that are great ways to schedule your child’s summer, but I wanted something a little simpler.  What if we just couldn’t make every Tuesday “Take a Day Trip” Day?  I just didn’t want to commit to that much of a schedule all summer long.

The first day of vacation I tried to just “go with the flow” and see how things went and it was okay for a little while, then Little One became grumpy when I asked her to do some chores and practice the piano.  She had not planned on that in her day!  It continued with endless requests to do things that were not really feasible at the time.  We both just seemed a little out of sorts.

So today I tried something different.  I knew we had things we had to get done, but I also wanted some time for fun.  So in about two minutes I wrote out a tentative list of how her day would go.  It included some chores and some school work (I know, I know-school work?  the teacher in me just can’t help myself!) as well as plenty of outdoor time and a bike ride with Mom.  Oldest has a full week of marching band practice and seems to keep pretty busy on her own, so only Little one got an agenda list. I presented it to Little One after breakfast and she read it over and got to work on the first item, no complaining or grumbling to be heard!  I think she really liked knowing what to expect from her day and the fun things to look forward to made the chores and schoolwork bearable.  We have already had to adjust the list a little because we had lots of outside time planned and it turned out to be a rainy day, but she was okay with some substitutions.  Instead of a bike ride, we may do a board game or art project.

I know this type of thing might not work for all families, but as a teacher, I find that most young kids do better with at least some structure.  Little One really liked checking things off of her list and I think she felt a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

How about you?  How do you fill the extra time at home during summer vacation?  We would love to hear your ideas.

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Hope

For those of you living here in Michigan, I want to offer you hope and a reminder of why we choose to live here!  In my opinion, there is not a more beautiful place than summertime in Michigan.  So hold on, even though it is supposed to snow again tomorrow, summer WILL arrive!  Here are a few of my favorite Michigan destinations.

Sunset at my brother’s cottage.

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Mackinac Island

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Pictured Rocks

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Sunset on the pristine waters of Lake Superior

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My brother’s dog-pure happiness!

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~Blessings,

Jen

10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs!

The cold, ice and snow seem to have a strong grip on us this year here in Michigan and in many other parts of the country!  So if the weather is getting you down, I thought I would offer a helpful list of ways to distract yourself from the frigid temperatures and stir craziness of this winter.  So grab a hot cuppa something, browse this list and hopefully you will find something that inspires you and jolts you out of the Winter Blahs!

1. Haul out those old summer vacation photos, whether they be on your computer or in a photo book, and snuggle up on the sofa for a trip down memory lane!  Just looking at those photos of warm weather fun will bring a smile to your face and is a guaranteed feel good activity! Here is photo from my album of Little one enjoying the summer    4-H Fair!

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2. Get your “reggae” on!  Tune in to some tropical music on Pandora or another on-line music station, close your eyes and dream of the summer days that will eventually come around again, or get up and DANCE to it! Here is one of my personal favorites!

3.Hop on Pinterest and do a search for Spring or Summer Fashion!  It is like window shopping, without having to leave your house or spend any money!  Here are a couple of my favorites:

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4. Bring out the board games!  A good old fashioned game of Uno, Candy Land or Dominoes will distract you from the howling winds!

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5. If the temperature permits, bundle yourself up and go for a walk.  The still, soft quietness of a winter day can give us a feeling of calm and peace. (Picture by Jules)

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6. Follow that walk with a steaming hot cup of chocolate!  Go ahead and indulge, dark chocolate has been proven to offer some health benefits!  Here is a recipe for “Healthy Hot Chocolate”

7. Try to enjoy the TIME  these winter days give us.  Time with our families, to read a book, make a home cooked meal, watch a movie, do a craft, complete a project, or to just “be”.

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8.If you’ve looked at all of the summer vacation photos, move on to home movies!  The kids will love watching themselves when they were “little”.  Maybe you could even record some new movies!

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9. Doing something for someone else in need will ALWAYS make you feel better!

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10. Finally, make a list of five things you are thankful for!  The cold, winter days won’t be able to keep you down if your mind is on the blessings in your life!

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Hope you found something on the list to brighten your day!

~Blessings,

Jen