4 ways my family survives summer when it has lost its magic

Ahhh summer: running in the sprinklers, hands sticky from afternoon Popsicles, the smell of sunscreen and chlorine as the little ones scamper in from the pool. Those are the good days of summer, the days I can’t wait for as the school year draws to a close.

But now, hot summer days stretch into eternity, and the opening school bell on September 8th seems light years away. The little guys who played so happily together at the beginning of summer are beginning to get on each other’s nerves. The trail of still unpacked boxes from our move last month eats away at me. If I hear one more time “I’m bored,” I think my head will explode. How on earth will we survive these dog days of summer, when it’s forecast to be 95 degrees tomorrow, and it’s too hot to even think about going outside?

Summers in South Florida often make me feel like a prisoner in my own house, much as a northerner does in the bitter months of winter.

So we improvise and use our imaginations. We vow to find ways to bring the magic back to these last few weeks until that opening school bell rings.

1. We hit the library. A lot. The librarians must think we live there. But it’s cool (bonus), and we have to use quiet inside voices (no fighting). Plus the boys discover other worlds through the books they read. The Friday afternoon magic shows are a gold mine of free entertainment, and I just might get to escape for a few glorious minutes with the latest summer novel. Win-win for everyone.

2. We scavenger hunt. Not the outside kind, or we would fry like bacon. Instead, we scavenger hunt wherever the errands may lead us that day. My kids cringe at the word “errands,” but add the words scavenger hunt and they are all in. While this may take a little pre-planning and creativity on your part to make such a list (find a baby being pushed in a stroller, find a man wearing a yellow shirt), it is well worth it if you can get errands done and the kids remain happy.

3. We name a day. Rivers Water Day. Family Fun Day. Board Game Day. I planned a Craft Day after a quick trip to the craft store’s dollar bin yielded some cheap finds and hours of entertainment. I’m not talking cutesy Pinterest crafts that require weeks of preparation. A ball of yarn, a box of Popsicle sticks, construction paper, and some paint kept them busy for hours.

4. We bend the rules. Some evenings the 7:30 bedtime stretches into the night, so the kids can enjoy a sunset at the beach or a twilight dip in the pool. Other days we bake brownies and eat them in the middle of the day, foregoing our usual one small treat after dinner rule. We teach them that it’s OK if life isn’t perfectly structured all the time, that life is a little sweeter when we use our imaginations, get out of the ordinary routine, go with the flow. Because those spontaneous moments make the best memories of childhood, I’m convinced.

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About Dr. Kristie Rivers, Bundoo Pediatrician

Dr. Kristie Rivers is an Attending Physician, Assistant Medical Director of the Pediatric Hospitalist Program, and Director of Pediatric Medical Education at a children’s hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She cares for hospitalized children and also teaches pediatric residents and medical students.

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