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Seven Ways to Celebrate Summer’s Last Days

In my home everyone is excited when it’s the First of June. June represents the beginning of summer for all four of us. I have two daughters (11 and 16) who attend school, and my wife and I are both school teachers.

June means summer vacation is just around the corner, seventy-five days free from homework, correcting (and taking) tests. There’s no studying, no alarm clocks, no sack lunches. Summer means freedom in our household, and we cling to it every single year.

This year was no different. My wife and I went to bed late and slept in every morning. We forgot which day of the week it was. We had lunch on the back patio. We took family trips. The girls had sleepovers and watched late-night movies. My younger daughter read like a crazy-girl. I wrote more than I ever had. My wife got into incredible shape. My older daughter spent half of her summer shooting how-to makeup videos.

But, now it’s August. If summer were a weekend, August would be Sunday. It’s the time when you know you still don’t have to return yet, but getting back to the grind is right around the corner. So, what do you do? A last hurrah, right?

Well, at least that’s what we do in our family. We want to get in our last summer licks before it’s back to work and back to school.

If you are anything like us, you’ll want to get your last summer memories before the back-to-school bell rings. Here are seven fun ideas that will also strengthen your connection as a family while enjoying the twilight of summer.

1. Backyard Obstacle Course Put together an obstacle course in the backyard with anything you have around the house. You can balance on a piece of wood on the grass, throw a ball into a bucket, run in and out of lawn chairs and jump over a couple of beach towels. Time one another and the person with the best score can win their choice of movies for the Family Movie Night.

2. Water War Last week I came home with a bunch of water guns I got at the local drug store’s end-of-summer sale. I passed them out and told the family to be ready to battle in two hours. We had so much fun. We were soaked, but it was a hot day.

It doesn’t have to be a war, but it’s got to include water. You can turn on the sprinklers and have a dance-off, or consider washing the car as a family with a lot of spraying and splashing.

3. Amusement Park Nothing says “summer” like a trip to an amusement park. If you haven’t taken a trip to one yet, see if you can squeeze one in before school begins. Here’s the good part, if you don’t have a season pass to a park, see if you can find another family that does. Some parks offer “bring a friend” days in August. If you can convince another family that you are their friends, you can get in for free as well as have last-minute summer fun with another family.

4. Barbeque Wrap up summer this year with a family backyard cook-out. But, don’t you just barbeque for the family; get everyone involved. Ask the kids what they want. Shop for it together. You may have to man (or woman) the grill, but they can help making popsicles, making lemonade and choosing the music.

5. Beach Olympics Beaches and summer go hand-in-hand. If you live near the beach, this one is easy. If you haven’t made it to a beach yet this summer, now’s the time. And, it doesn’t have to be a beach associated with an ocean. If a lake is closer, that’ll work as well. Create some events and have at it. Have the kids help come up with the events. Make them fun and creative: rock skipping, hole digging, highest rock structure, long breath holding, etc…

6. Backyard Camping I used to love camping, but as I’ve aged I have found I appreciate bathrooms and mattresses more than I used to. So, if you are at all like me, you may not have taken the family camping this summer. No worries. Break out the tent and sleeping bags and set up camp in the yard. You can tell scary stories, star gaze, roast weinies, make s’mores, and if you are lucky enough to live where lightening bugs reside, you can capture a few in a mayonnaise jar for a couple hours and make yourself a camping lantern. The best part? If you need to “go”, just sneak away into the house while the kids are asleep.

7. Ice Cream You can’t officially have summer if you haven’t partaken in the deliciousness of ice cream. So, surprise the family with a trip to 31 Flavors, or if you prefer frozen yogurt, find one locally and head out and choose your toppings. In our neighborhood we get an ice cream truck in the evenings during the summer. We always ignore it. Maybe surprise the kids by flagging down a truck and getting them a Pop-Up or Fudgsicle. Or, spend an afternoon making homemade ice cream. If you are really against these refreshing treats for health reasons, one of our favorite ice cream substitutes is made of frozen banana pieces (very ripe) and low fat milk blended until creamy. So sweet, so cold and so much like ice cream. 

Whatever you do, take advantage of these last few days of summer. “Monday morning” is right around the corner so make the most of this Sunday afternoon.

America’s Relationship Guru

Leon Scott Baxter, “America’s Relationship Guru,” is the author of Secrets of Safety-Net Parenting and the founder of SafetyNetters.com. He’s the father of two girls, 12 and 16, and has taught elementary school for eighteen years.