kidsthe great outdoors

savoring the end of summer with kids

How is it already happening?  The 2017-18 school year is upon us and summer break will be coming to a close in a blink.  This year, I’m experiencing something I have not before – two kids in school.  Y’all, my baby is no longer a baby and he’s headed off to 4K.  My other kiddo is also growing up, finishing her final year of elementary school and becoming quite the  (strong-willed, sassy, awesome) young lady.  This summer it has been so important to me that we spend a ton of family time together before the madness starts.

My second goal in life, behind keeping my kids alive, is to create memorable, smile-worthy moments, as many as possible.  I’ve tried to pack this summer full of trips and adventures and I feel like I’ve succeeded so far.  This past week, we traveled north to the eastern side of Yosemite for the first time.  If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ve already seen how amazing this week-long adventure was.

If I had one bit of advice to offer a mom or dad looking to create meaningful moments, I’d suggest unplugging and heading outdoors.  It doesn’t have to be a week long camping trip – it could be one night in a cabin or a hike you’ve never done before.  There is just something about being outdoors that really brings a family together.

It is so easy for kids these days to become screen zombies, glued to their tablets, TVs and video games.  The same goes for us parents!  Be sure to cram in some unplugged days with kids before school starts.  Once school begins, it gets a little tougher.  The start of school also means the start of fall sports and a ton of other regulated obligations.  We just started back to school shopping and it is so bittersweet… so exciting and fun but also a little sad.

I will admit, once I’m in the rhythm of fall, I kind of like the madness.  It definitely is a change from the lazy, laid back days of summer.  While it might not be as easy to get in that family time, you’ve got to make it happen.  Smile-worthy moments are not only on big trips, they are also in the little things like back to school shopping, making dinner together and family game night.

5 places to create smile-worthy moments during back to school

  • dinner time – everyone has to eat, so meal time is an easy place to come together.  Assign everyone a job, prepping for dinner, setting the table, cooking and serving… then sit down at the dinner table (without phones!) and talk.  The dinner table is a great place for kids to blow off steam and frustrations from the day.  It’s also a great time to tune into their lives and stay in the loop as a parent.
  • game night – whatever your game, from cards to boards to apps, make sure to stop working for a few minutes and play a game.  The sillier you get, the better.  Everyone needs a few extra laughs during this super hectic time of school, homework and adult work.

  • homework station – no one likes homework and getting it done can often feel like a real chore.  Try to make the most of it by creating a positive and rewarding homework station.  Don’t take it TOO seriously and be upbeat and fun.  Bring a bowl of snacks midway through and prepare for smiles.
  • running errands – I’ve always enjoyed the time spent alone with my oldest child as we run errands.  Fight the feelings of boredom or stress and enjoy the time together.  Make a pit stop for an ice cream or a donut or quick arcade game – dinner can wait!
  • weekends – weekends are your time to create big, smile-worthy moments.  I know you’re all exhausted from a long week of work, but try to do something together each weekend, whether out of town or right in your own backyard.  If your weekends are overrun with obligations, maybe consider saying no to some things.  We have a tendency of overscheduling ourselves and our kids, which leaves very little time for family bonding!

Snacks make every activity better from outdoor hikes to game nights to finishing homework.  Go with what your kids love.  Goldfish have long been giving kiddos smiles and they’re definitely a staple in my pantry!  I buy the portable Goldfish Snacks multipacks for lunchboxes and hiking packs, but at home I always go for the Goldfish Snacks in the big box, just like my mom did for me.

For more back to school ideas, printables and crafts, check out Goldfish Snacks Pinterest!

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