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Sunshine and laughter are the best ingredients for a happy summer

Summer can be a stressful time for parents and I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t already begun to hear your children say that they are “bored,” “tired,” “there’s nothing to do,” “there’s no one to play with” or “none of my other friends have to work.”

Some or all these things may be true, but it doesn’t have to ruin your summer. There are ways to enjoy the summer and occupy your children with healthy activities at the same time. I’d like to share some simple suggestions for activities that promote good mental health, will give them exciting things to look forward to with minimal planning.

Reading can take on a whole new flair for children when allowed to read in an large cardboard box fort, on a merry go round or under a shady tree. How about lying in the grass identifying figurines in the clouds with a Popsicle to see who can se find the first animal or letter of the alphabet. This allows for exploration and increases the imagination.

Sidewalk chalk or homemade paint in dish soap squirt bottles will encourage physical activity while allowing the children to absorb the sunshine, thus increasing the vitamin D in their system. Vitamin D is the vitamin that helps with depression. It’s also an opportunity for them to display their creativity for all the world to see. Complements on the best artwork on the block is helpful in boosting a child’s self-esteem. Activities like this are especially helpful for those children that have difficulty competing or keeping up with those that are more physical. Every child has their own gifts or talents, art may be your child’s hidden talent.

Every family needs a karaoke night…don’t they? A toilet paper tube, a piece of wax paper and a rubber band work well as a microphone that distorts sound and makes everyone sound good in a funny sort of way. Surely everyone needs to sing childhood jingles with this homemade microphone. In fact, it would be good to have an entire family band, dad included. It’s an activity were everyone sounds bad!! It’s a wonderful time of laughter, which helps the body create endorphins which make us feel good. Scripture states that “laughter does good like a medicine”.

Laughter is good for children’s mental health if the laughter is not generated from put downs or sarcasm. How about the laughter game? Have the children lie down with a plastic glass of warm water on their bellies. Begin telling family jokes, funny memories or other funny stories. Have them see if they can laugh without spilling their water. There is no touching the glass, as their hands need to be on the ground by their sides. Someone is sure to get wet, which will bring on even more laughter. It’s a wonderful, simple time that not only generates laughter, it brings about a sense of belonging and that they are important in the family.

Summer can be fun and silly and not cost an arm and a leg. Summer can be a time to renew the relationship we have with our children and build some great new memories. The times together can be simple and refreshing. Take time this summer to slow down, get reacquainted with your children and enjoy their presence. Bring out the sunscreen, get out doors, make forts, chase bugs, listen for birds or crickets and just love on your children. Don’t blink too long as they will be gone very soon. Create some “Summer Fun” that involves whole family!