A recipe for a super summer

Well, our winter in Minnesota was certainly relentless. 

But we survived! “Spring” didn’t exactly start on cue in March, but I’m not looking back. When I flip my calendar to the month of June, I’m in summer mode — if the weather cooperates or not!

Summertime is precious to me. Because I’m an educator, every June I experience a metaphorical exhale as my reality shifts from being responsible for 20-plus children each day to just my own four for a couple of months. This, combined with longer days and warmer weather, makes my day-to-day life easier, compared to the busy school year.  

An ideal summer, for me and my family, will be rich and balanced and with plenty of family time, some new experiences and lots and lots of time outdoors.

Here are my tips for a wonderful, balanced summer vacation that encompasses both planned activities and also some unstructured time to relax.

Make plans to explore

Summer can get away from you if you don’t do some planning. It can be fun to be spontaneous when it comes to travel, but the reality is that traveling as a family takes work and forethought.

Leading up to summer, I like to get some long weekend trips on our family calendar. So far, our family has a camping reservation secured on an island campsite in Northern Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park as well as some dates reserved at a campground on the North Shore. We’re looking into the possibility of biking at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in the Crosby-Ironton area.

Sometimes even the anticipation of planned activities such as these can be part of the joy of the experience. Remember, your planned activities don’t need to be over-the-top. Camping and biking are relatively low-key endeavors, but they’re so often memorable! I believe some of our most precious — and fun — memories can come from the simplest experiences.

Incorporate balance

Avoid overscheduling. No matter how old your kids are, some quality downtime at home over the summer is important. The financial and emotional costs of travel, outings and excursions can add up quickly. Time at home doesn’t cost extra and can be a relaxing break.

Also, it’s more than OK for your kids to be bored some of the time. Kids don’t need to be constantly entertained. I always tell my children: “Boredom is a choice.” 

There can be value and learning in the process of working through boredom. Kids need to learn the important life skill of how to figure out how to entertain themselves, especially without screens. It takes practice, and it can require initiative on everyone’s part. But it’s worth it. 

Experience connection

Summertime is an ideal time to make connections with your extended family, friends and even neighbors. Maybe you already have plans to host or attend a family reunion, or maybe you’re planning on attending a wedding or special event that involves friends and family. Embrace these experiences as opportunities for deeper connections. 

As the summer progresses, look for even more ways to gather and connect with friends and family. 

You may want to plan a backyard cookout with your neighbors or spend time at a family cabin. Research points to the emotional benefits of social connections — for kids and adults. 

From my family to yours, have a great summer!

Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives in Northeastern Minnesota. She blogs at kidsandeggs.com.