Summertime and the Bonding Is Easy

Ashley Young
June 23, 2014

Summer brings a lot of wonderful things, but perhaps the greatest gift of this season is time. During the summer, our kids have big, unscheduled chunks of time that are so much harder to come by during the school year. This means that summer is the perfect time for you to get to know your kids and for your kids to get to know you, to strengthen the ties that bind your family together. 

The easiest route to summertime bonding is sharing interests. Do you have a budding musician in your house? Take him or her to a concert. Summer is a great time to see live music, from free concerts in a local park to this summer's hottest tours. Maybe Lego craziness is rampant under your roof. If you don't live close enough to spend a day at Legoland, you can still share in the Lego love by picking up a project kit, like this one from the Lego Movie, and working on it together. No matter what your kids are into, take some time this summer to enjoy their interests with them. It will mean a lot. 

Another hallmark of summer are the little rituals that we repeat every year. Maybe you already share some of these with your kids or perhaps you remember the special summertime "things" from your own childhood. Last year, my husband camped out in the backyard with our then three-year-old son. They made s'mores, chased fireflies, and slept in a tent in the grass ten feet from our back door. It was one night, a little thing that required no planning other than making sure we had marshmallows, but when we started talking about summer this year, one of the first things my son asked was if he could sleep outside with Daddy again. So plan a picnic, go to a ballgame (major, minor, or little league) and eat a hot dog, go pick strawberries or blueberries, fire up some sparklers on a starry night. The possibilities for summer rituals are endless and can be as simple or extravagant as you want. Just make it something that you do together, summer after summer. 

Summer is also a great time to take on a new challenge or two. You and your kids can learn something new, either by signing up for a class or teaming up to learn together using books and online video tutorials. Your family can learn to paint or locate summer constellations or build a treehouse or try your luck at geocaching. 

A good place to start your summer bonding is to create a summer "bucket list," a list of things you want to do together before summer kicks the bucket. Add those shared interest activities and those summer rituals. Toss in a few things you have never tried before and a few things that are best enjoyed in summer (eating ice cream outside, splashing through a summer rainstorm). Create this list with your kids, refer to it often, and make the best of summer's gift of time together with your family.

From the Parents

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