Surviving Summer With Kids

School’s out, school’s out! 

The teacher let the monkeys out!

 As a kid, you probably sang that schoolyard ditty with glee, as you grabbed your backpack and headed through the door of your classroom into the sunlit plans for a carefree summer. Now as a parent, your focus shifts from homework and lunch money to realizing that these are YOUR monkeys, this is YOUR circus, and for the next three months, YOU are its main ringleader!

And, if your monkeys are anything like ours, they have two huge things in common; they’re bored, and they’re hungry. Hope you’ve got a game plan in place!
Here at Evy’s Tree, we are parents. And like you, we are BUSY parents, running between work, school, doctor appointments, church, grocery stores, athletic games or band or dance lessons. Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean that things slow down for us…it just means we have to get more creative with juggling all of our many tasks! Not that we really mind, because it’s really great to get a break from the school routine, but we love our kids and keeping their minds and bodies healthy, happy, and busy is a top priority.

Amy’s top plans (with extra tips/plans from YOU, our Evy’s Tree people!):

Tip #1- CAMPS, CAMPS, CAMPS!

There are often more camps available to you than you realize, and we all love camps! Sports camps, creative camps, camps just for camping…the kids love the fun aspect, and it’s great to keep them socializing with friends. Many local school districts and parks and recreation departments offer affordable camps during the summer that include both sports and academic subjects, so whether you have a budding NFL Super Bowl Champ on your hands, or a computer-coding, minecrafting-master, future software designer, you should be able to find something just for your kids!

Rebecca Kowai loves the camp idea and said that her daughter has been enjoying them since she was 9.
Jodi Guntle is a super-mom in our eyes, with her spreadsheet and organization! Jodi we are TOTALLY with you and we applaud you! You’ve got this, momma!
But speaking of VBS, it counts as a camp and we fully admit to being “VBS-hoppers”, with our kids sometimes attending 2-4 additional VBS programs in addition to the one at our own churches! Thank you Lindsay Castagna for feeling the same! Ha!

Tip #2 – Take your kids to work.

Obviously, this is not a viable option for everyone, but in many cases, with older kids, this might be a way to include them in your day. Let them see what you do, put them to work doing tasks, and let them see the inner workings of different industries. Maybe the ‘work’ isn’t with you, but older kids can certainly mow yards or find other minor money-making schemes that will teach them discipline. Many self-made millionaires describe their humble beginnings at the bottom of their parent’s jobs and how they learned at an early age how to work their way up with integrity and just plain sweat and grit. And don’t forget to ask your spouse to jump in and help; they may have their own fantastic ideas, creativity, and plans! They are fully capable of donning an apron and jumping in to do ANY of the household chores/cooking etc. So glad Brandon (Mr. Evy’s Tree) agrees!

 Rachel McConnell’s husband seems to be equally helpful…

Tip #3-  Easy Meal Options.

It seems like the more kids are home during the day, the more they want to eat! Making huge family meals every single day sounds great, but let’s be honest…who has the time and energy for that? We love shopping for easy, kid-friendly snacks like baby carrots, celery sticks, pretzels, grapes, apples, oranges, cheese sticks, etc., all things they can grab as they graze all day. As they get older, they can learn to create their own meals…with all the cooking shows on nowadays, pretty much anyone can pick up some great kitchen skills and tips! Give your kids varying degrees of freedom in the kitchen and they might surprise you; some parents even assign older kids certain nights when they’re responsible for the complete dinner!
One of Amy’s family favorites is her famous Pasta Salad; here is the recipe so hopefully you can incorporate it into your meal plans or better yet, teach your older kid-chefs to make it for you!
 

Amy’s Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag/box of pasta, preferably penne or bow tie
  • 1 lb of Sugar Plumb or Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 handful of chopped fresh basil {about 1/2 cup}- I grow a big pot on my deck during the summer…cheap!
  • String cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese

Boil pasta as directed, and while pasta is boiling, chop basil and put in a large bowl.

Cut tomatoes into halves and add to the bowl. Add kosher salt and pepper to the tomatoes and basil.
*Amy’s Side Note: don’t try regular salt for this one, it will change the flavor drastically. If you don’t have kosher salt, do yourself a favor and invest in a box. It lasts forever and is so yummy. And not to mention its healthier for you, I think? I can’t remember, but it does something better for you. 
Then drizzle olive oil into the bowl and stir contents together. You want enough to make it slightly soupy, probably 3/4 cup, but I never measure, maybe more. It will look like this bowl that Evy was working on:
*You can do all the above up to 4 hours before you add pasta. The longer the mix marinates, the soupier and yummier it gets. But usually, I am in a big hurry so I make it in 15 mins. :)
Cut up string cheese and set aside. I use at least 6 sticks, usually 12.
*I like a lot of cheese and so do the kids. And not to mention when you warm up the pasta the next day the cheese melts and is oh so gooey.
Stop and marvel at HOW GIANT YOUR KIDS ARE GETTING TO BE. Are they growing an inch every night?!?
Add pasta to the bowl and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese, toss.
Then add the string cheese last. If you add it first you will end up with a big glob of cheese, not appetizing, trust me.
 Toss and voila… A light and yummy perfect summer pasta salad!

More Ideas from The Community

On our FB Evy’s Tree Insiders group (please tell me you’ve joined already!), we recently asked our members for some more great summer plans regarding their kids, and we absolutely loved so many of them that we wanted to share them with you!
Some of the classic vacation plans sound pretty fun to us; Mt. Rushmore, Disney, or season passes to theme parks like Felicia Phillips has planned (‘VBS for all’ makes us crack up and visualize Oprah handing out VBS registration packets to errrrrybody!)…
We love Megan Curtin’s idea of NO being allowed as well. For all of our plans and busyness, sometimes we just need to have no plans at all! There is a saying about how kids learn best through unstructured play. But what a fun and ambitious plan she has, of visiting all 50 states with them!
Local libraries cannot be overlooked, with their summer reading programs that help kids avoid the “summer slide” and usually earn coupons to local kid-friendly attractions and eateries. Most libraries now include adults in their summer reading programs so now is your chance to catch up on your booklist! And yes, audible books count, so load up on those if you have plans to just sit by the pool to keep an eye on your kids.
If you can’t actually go anywhere, don’t overlook the simple ways to recreate fun and variety in your own home. Jennifer Zink reminded us of the old parental “switcharoo” trick you can do with toys and books!
Your local city or town may actually be full of fun things that you’ve never fully explored. For example, did you know that many local bowling alleys participate in the nation-wide “Kids Bowl Free” summer campaign, allowing every kid to bowl free twice during the summer? Click here to see if your local alley is included and to get signed up! Brandi Williams was thinking along those lines with her creative plans, and you can track her progress on IG with #WilliamsAtoZsummer. Maybe you can join her and create your own alphabetical local adventures!
Don’t forget the frequent free or affordable kids workshops at home improvement stores like Home Depot, and the art lessons at Hobby Lobby. Or like Rachel says, just buy a bunch of random arts and craft supplies and let your mini-Picassos go crazy!   But please, do not let them do slime. No slime. Can we all bind together and rebuke the spirit of slime in our homes? Amen and amen.
Last but not least, just don’t forget to let your kids have FUN. Crazy, messy, silly, hilarious FUN like Tiffany Becker and Sharon Spaulding shares with us…
After all, they grow up SO quickly, The important thing is that you seize the moments and make as many happy memories with your kids as you possibly can, as Jennifer Bedlington reminds us… Because the days are long, but the years are short.

 

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