As summer winds down and the back-to-school supply aisles begin to fill, it’s easy to feel a pang of parenting guilt wondering if you’ve packed in enough summertime fun. Before panic fully sets in, take a breath, relax, and remember there’s still plenty of time to make some great summer memories with your kids.
Betsy Waters, creator and owner of the popular LexFun4Kids website and social media sites – which offer indispensible listings of Kids Eat Free restaurant deals, ideas for fun day trips and tours and a comprehensive, day-to-day calendar of family-friendly area events – shares some of her tips for making the most of the last precious days of summer break.
First, ask your kids to help you plan a family “bucket list” of their favorite summertime activities, Waters advises. Let each child choose 10 activities, or select 50 as a family – whatever works for you. The ideas don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Often, the things that make summertime the sweetest are simple and free, or nearly-free.
“Maybe they’d like to go on a bike ride as a family, or have a water balloon fight in the backyard,” Waters suggests. “Or, maybe have an indoor campout so the kids can pitch a tent in the living room and kind of unplug for the day.”
Waters’ sons, ages 8 and 10, also love the challenge of going to the farmer’s market to choose fresh ingredients. Afterward, they search for new recipes to help prepare and incorporate their purchases into their family’s evening dinner plan, she says. “Find activities that kids want to do, that they kind of take some ownership in, and that they are excited about doing,” she suggests.
Other easy-to-do, fun ideas on Waters’ family summertime bucket list include painting outdoors, stargazing, catching fireflies, making s’mores, and selling lemonade for the Salvation Army’s LemonAiD Days fundraiser in July.
And, if you’re looking for a fun day trip, there’s no need to go far. Waters suggests taking a tour of the Toyota Motor Manufacturing facility in Georgetown, the Ale-8-One Bottling Company in Winchester, or one of the many area candy companies. (Go to www.LexFun4Kids.com and check out her lists of “Tour Kentucky Made,” “Free Fun,” and “20 Ideas for Central Kentucky Summer Fun” for even more ideas. You can follow LexFun4Kids on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.)
Above all, Waters encourages families to be sure to take advantage of Lexington’s great outdoor spaces, including McConnell Springs, Raven Run, and the Kentucky Children’s Garden at the Arboretum – all of which offer kid-friendly activities and workshops. The nearby Salato Wildlife Education Center in Frankfort and the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg also provide opportunities for fun outdoor exploration. “Our family loves being outdoors, and the summer is a perfect time to get out and enjoy these great spaces,” Waters says.”