Ah, Summer.  That vast, wide open stretch of the year when parents often wonder, “What will we do with the kids for all this time?” This is a perfect to challenge your imagination and offer the Little Ones some quality time exploring, learning, and spending time with us. Since we don’t spend (barely) any time in front of the tv, this leaves our summertime WIIIIIIIIDE open.  Alot of us Mamas also serve as Director of Family Activities, in addition to all of our other jobs (!!) and we can all use a little inspiration in that area some times…. Here are some ideas inspired by my own family plans this summer:
Take a family retreat.  We recently returned from a weekend at COSM, the creative community of visionary artists Alex Grey and Allyson Grey.  There we participated in a retreat of spontaneous art, music, and spirituality in the Upstate New York woods.  The kids played outdoors, created fairy houses, mixed in with adults of all ages and created art alongside us.  Who needs an iPad when you can create a sand mandala, see a fire dancer, or create your own puppet show?  You don’t have to spend money or go far away to bring this imaginative approach to your family culture.
Indulge in some ongoing creative projects.  I’d like to create a book with each of my babies — they illustrate it and we co-create the stories.  At the end of the summer we will have two creative works to show for our free time.
Explore our own city.  Go to the museums, festivals, and outdoor concerts that are abundant all summer.
Sign up for some unusual camps.  We are signed up for music camp (they’ll commit to learning one instrument per week), architecture camp (they will plan, design, and build their own city), nature camp (they’ll run barefoot in the woods, get dangerous, and carve bows and arrows before coming home covered in war paint).
Learn some new skills.  Chess, backgammon, watercolor, knitting… whatever. Pick something and get into it with your little ones.  They want that quality time with you.

Commit to a Family Fun Night once a week.  In stark contrast to my single days, Friday nights are our Family Fun nights.  We enjoy creating together; cooking a meal, doing a group collage project, telling stories, playing games, etc.  The kids go to bed ridiculously late but we are all so happy from spending a solid chunk of quality time together, it doesn’t matter.

All of these ideas are really right in front of us…. sometimes we just forget how simple choices like this can add up to a very different larger picture of the lifestyle and values we are offering our children.
When we feed our children with imagination and presence, they don’t need anything else. xxx, Leah

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