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The kids’ summer vacation is rolling by at a pretty good clip now that we are safely ensconced in July. The family’s got the morning camp routine down, which is much like the morning school routine, except without the homework angst. Everyone storms the kitchen at the last possible moment and you’re always running out of some essential breakfast component. But as the kids’ camp schedules wind down in anticipation of the family’s August jaunt to this summer’s holiday destination, the summer blahs can start to set in, with complaints that there’s “Nothing to do around here!” So here are some tips to make the dog days sail on by ‘til the August packing off to paradise, and with some benefits to the old homestead to boot.
LET’S START A GARDEN
How about starting a home garden in the backyard with the kids and see if we can actually grow something that we could possibly eat? Or maybe you’ve already got a backyard garden, but it could certainly use a tune-up. Pack the kids in the car and compel them to accompany you to the local nursery or big-box garden center. Start out by perusing the seed bins so that each child can find a particular legume that she or he might want to actually eat. The pictures of beautiful, hearty vegetables on the seed packets will do the talking and your children will love picking their favorites. Or, even better, you can start with seedlings, which actually might yield something edible before school resumes. Or maybe the pictures of the bright, robust flowers on the seed packets will overcome the rationale of eating what you grow and your kids will opt for roses and snapdragons. But the main thing is, they’re invested in the process and the satisfaction of nurturing a plant and watching it grow is an experience they’ll be able to take with them for the rest of their lives.
FIX UP THE OLD FAMILY ROOM
Your home’s family room probably gets a heck of a workout almost every single day and it could always use a little sprucing up. Why not enlist the kids to help you do a simple rehab or even remodel? This is a place that they enjoy, probably with their friends, so maybe they could take a little pride in it and reap the benefits of compliments from their pals when the job’s done.
A good way to start is to just get rid of the junk. Family rooms tend to catch all the detritus that doesn’t seem fit anywhere else in the home. And a lot of these things were just one-time use and lose stuff anyway. So a judicious, group once-over, gathering of the junk should fill the back of the SUV, maybe even more than once, and then a trip to Goodwill or the Salvation Army and you're done. Just make sure you don’t end up bringing more stuff back with you than you dropped off.
Once you’ve cleared the junk, it’s time to pull the furniture away from the walls and clean behind everything. Actually, this might be a good time to bring in some interior painters and give the room a different look with some bright new colors. You could even pull those ratty old cushions off the chairs and recover them. What a tremendous sense of accomplishment you and the kids will have when you finally put the old room back together and see the result.
HOW ABOUT A LEMONADE STAND?
It may be old-fashioned but a kid’s lemonade stand never goes out-of-date and is a good one-day summer project. And there’s the prospect of untold riches for your children, which will certainly inspire – if just for a little while. Of course, no lemonade stand in history has ever made a profit, but whatever. Okay, so first thing, you’d better make sure that lemonade stands are even allowed in your neighborhood. If that’s okay, then you’ll need the stand, which can be as elaborate or inelegant as you wish. This is totally dependant upon the materials you have at hand. If you happen to have 4 old orange crates and some scrap plywood hanging around, you can build a Disney version of the classic lemonade stand suitable for an episode of The Wonder Years. If you and your kids aren’t so ambitious, a card table with an old tablecloth and a hand-printed sign will do. Then all you need are plastic cups, some good old-fashioned lemonade, a money box, lots and lots of ice cubes and it’s on to the Freemarkets.