25 Inexpensive Ways to Build Lasting Summer Memories with Your Child
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25 Inexpensive Ways to Build Lasting Summer Memories with Your Child

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25 Inexpensive Ways to Build Lasting Summer Memories with Your Child

by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC

Kids remember the strangest things. Ask any teen what he remembers about his childhood and he will most likely tell you about the adventurous things that his parents did with him. You can tell it has impacted him because it brings a smile to his face when he retells it.

 Summer is a perfect time to do memorable things with your kids. These times will never present themselves again, because next summer your child will be one year older (you will, too), and he may not appreciate the family experience as much as he would this year. Below are some suggestions. This isn’t a mandatory list, so there’s no need to become compulsive and do everything. In fact, one or more of these might give you your own idea about what would be fun for your child. It may be one of the things that bring a smile to your child’s face long after he becomes an adult.

1. Build a tree house, and let your child decide on a name for it.
2. Plan a fall garden with your child. Let him help decide what goes in the garden.
3. Re-decorate one aspect of your child’s room. Whether it’s painting his wall, buying new curtains, or a bedspread, let him be a part of it.
4. Make a swing and hang it from a big tree in the front or back yard.
5. Rent a Karaoke machine and have a talent show with the family (invite friends if your child wants).
6. Let your child help plan a party with a few of his friends, and let him make the invitations.
7. Have a picnic at night with your whole family. Everyone is responsible for making one dish.
8. Have a dance contest with the family. Buy small awards, serve finger foods, and decorate the room festively.
9. Take the family ice-skating at an indoor rink if there is one in your area.
10. Go to a baseball game. Kids love watching their parents’ get excited at a sporting event.
11. Get the family up early and drive to the beach to watch the sunrise. Pack small snacks for the humans and food for the birds the night before. Helping with this part can mean a lot to a child, and add excitement to the trip.
12. Find a church or synagogue you have never been to and take your family there for a service. Read about the faith and share what you learn with your child. You can involve him furtherr by letting him do some of the research. Your child will learn tolerance and acceptance of faiths other than his own, and that God loves everyone. I am amazed by how much children remember something like this.
13. Make the World’s Largest Ice Cream Sundae and let your child help add the toppings. Let him invite three of his best friends to share the sundae.
14. Designate one night a week during the summer to have a make-your-own pizza or taco night. Each person in the family can put whatever toppings they want on their individual pizza or taco. Eat together at the table, not in front of the TV.
15. Have Tuesday night be “puzzle night”. The whole family can work on a jigsaw puzzle. When the puzzle is completed (for large puzzles this may take a month), take a photo of all of you and celebrate. Put the puzzle back in the box and donate it to a shelter.
16. Plan a short weekend getaway that involves camping and a hike. Kids really love the idea of getting away, and they like to see mom and dad relaxing and playing with them. A bonfire is a wonderful way to end the perfect family day.
17. Make bubbles, and invite the neighborhood kids (and their parents) over. Parents enjoy relaxing with other parents, and kids like blowing bubbles. Something about seeing kids blowing bubbles and parents relaxing makes anyone’s day.
18. Make a movie on a rainy summer day with your child.. Serving popcorn and hot dogs adds to the overall event.
19. Designate one night as game night and let your child choose a game for that night. Set up the room with a table or sit on a blanket on the floor (kids love stuff like this). Make sure everyone shuts off their cell phones, TVs and computers.
20. Go out in the evening and catch fireflies with your child. Let him keep them in a jar overnight and then free them in the morning.
21. Go out with your child and catch tadpoles after a good rainstorm. They swim in the gutters on the street. This is memorable for a child, especially if it happens frequently. He remembers it as being special because a parent went with him; any time that happens is an opportunity for a memory to be built.
22. Celebrate Sunday mornings with a BIG breakfast. If your child is able to help prepare the breakfast, it makes it even more exciting.
23. Get a recipe and make ice cream with your child. There are recipes that don’t demand an ice cream maker. The ice cream is delicious and the kids will love it.
24. Choose a night for “charades.” Let your child choose the theme and get ready for fun! Kids love this; it gives them a chance to see mom and dad acting silly. The laughter is sure to make a great memory.
25. Relax bedtimes and make one night, “early to bed night.” Tell your child that this is mom and dad’s night. It means so much to your child to know that his parents enjoy each other; He also feels more secure knowing that mommy and daddy love each other. He will remember this and perhaps apply it to his own marriage.

Have a wonderful summer building memories!
Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.

Start Talking features succinct yet lively answers, sample conversations, and real life stories to help open the door to better mother/daughter communication. Rapini and Sherman have compiled more than 113 questions girls (and their moms) routinely ask – or should be asking – about health, sex, body image, and dating.