Stay-at-home Successful Summer in Southwest Florida

Summer is exciting because of all the extra time you have to spend with your children. The key to a successful summer is creating a consistent structured schedule for you and your kids. Incorporate down-time in your day - naps for little ones and quiet times for older children. Include them in helping you with your chores - do them together. Chances are good that they would like to help you given the opportunity, especially with younger children. Including them in these important activities will also teach them responsibility and will give them the tools to be self-sufficient as an adult.

I have put together a listing of ideas to help you create a structured schedule. There are many links and resources to local events and activities included. An example schedule is provided at the end of the post. The most important thing is to stick with the schedule that you create. Look through the resources and create a schedule for the week after your kids are in bed and you can focus.  Preparing a structured schedule of things to do will help everyone to have a fun summer! 

  • New Press offers a comprehensive listing of all types of events in the area throughout the summer. Many of which are free or low cost. Check the website for details. http://search.news-press.com/localevents/category//Family/106001-Childrens-Activities
  •  Fort Myers/ Sanibel offers a similar listing of events, some of which are free: http://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/events/
  • Dollar Summer Kid Movies at Regal Cinemas http://www.regmovies.com/Movies/Summer-Movie-Express
  •  Arts & Crafts at home (everything is an art material!)
  • Make your own comic book
  • Paint
  • Drawing
  • Collages
  • Pinterest has great crafts for kids of any age 
  •  Arts & Crafts outside-
    • Take an old white sheet, hang it on a fence or garage door. Fill balloons with water & a little food coloring (if you don’t care about stains) or washable tempera paint (it will wash out) and toss at the sheet to create an abstract splash painting.
    • Draw in the drive/sidewalk/porch with side-walk chalk and then rinse yourself and the concrete with the hose
    • Create sensory trays for the littles with plastic bins/containers. Fill with sand, shaving cream, finger paints, etc… outdoors makes clean up much easier
    • Build sand castles in the bins (You can buy clean sand at home supply stores)
  • Deep cleaning and organizing (clothes; closets; toys; etc…)- donate what you can no longer use or give to another family member.
  • There are many chores that children are more than capable of completing. They may not want to do them, but if you make the chore as the first TO-DO and then follow up with fun activities it may be less difficult to motivate them to complete chores. 
    • Cleaning house windows
    • Washing the car/s
    • Washing the dog/s
    • Fold & put away laundry (young ones)
    • Wash & Dry & Fold (older kids)
    • Change the bed sheets
    • Take out trash; take the canister outside and wash out with the hose
    • Dust the furniture
    • Wipe the baseboards
    • Wipe down kitchen/bath cabinets
    • Sweep inside/outside
    • Clean the front door
    • Vacuum
  • Volunteer at the Soup Kitchen @CCMI http://www.ccmileecounty.com/CCMI_CMS/index.php/get-involved/volunteer-faqs
  • Go visit socialize with the animals at the animal shelter (this could be a tough oneJ )
  • Lee County Parks & Recreation Pools are 3$ per person to swim http://www.leeparks.org/ 
    • Lakes Park has a water feature safe for little kids and fun for big ones. The only thing you need to pay for is parking
    • Lee County Parks & Rec Full Calendar of Events http://host2.evanced.info/leecounty/parks/eventcalendar.asp?Lib=ALL
  • Lee County Library listing of events for kids, teens & adults (They even offer Birth to 5 years old programming) http://leelibrary.net/kids/Pages/default.aspx
  • Downloadable Coloring Pages http://leelibrary.net/kids/birth/Pages/ColoringPages.aspx
  • Downloadable Educational Coloring Pages from Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge http://www.fws.gov/dingdarling/EnvironmentalEd.html
  • Visit the Alliance for the Arts Gallery & look at art - free/donation
    • http://www.artinlee.org/event-calendar/category/events/
    • In the cooler months they offer kids friendly movies on the lawn Friday Evenings usually
  • City of Cape Coral Parks & Rec Department Events http://www.capecoral.net/department/parks_and_recreationhome/index.php
  • Caloosa Nature Park http://calusanature.org/visit/
  •  Lee County Family News Event Calendar http://www.leefamilynews.net/index.html
  •  Pack a picnic brunch/lunch and head to the beach in the AM. 
  • Watch the Sunset (Downtown FM on the River; Pine Island; Sanibel Causeway Islands) The summer skies at sunset are breathtaking!
  • Read together
  • Play board games
  • Invent your own games
  • Play hide and seek or man hunt
  • Create a scavenger hunt around your house/ yard
  • Cook together- lots of kids friendly recipes (Make a cook book from the recipes you use with photos!)
    • Ice-Cream in freezer bags http://teachnet.com/lessonplans/science/plastic-bag-ice-cream-recipe/
    • Food Science Projects http://chemistry.about.com/od/foodscienceprojects/
    • http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/Intro-Cooking-Food-Science.shtml
    • http://foodscience.psu.edu/youth/youth
  • Create a themed topic to explore and learn about each week- for example, Different Countries: Create maps of a specific country; Make an art project based on the culture; Research different facts about the country; cook a meal based on the food of that country you researched.
  • Gardening projects together. Have kids paint creative labels on the pots of what you plant. 
  • Go on a nature walk photo hunt- create a list of things (butterflies; lizards; something yellow; bark; ants; flowers; water lily, etc…) that the kids have to find in nature and let them use their phone/electronic camera to photograph each item on the list. Later, use the photos they took to create a homemade book about things found in nature.

GENERIC SCHEDULE TEMPLATE: Your schedule does not have to be as extensive as this one, but it provides a general idea. Most importantly, remember to build in fun memory-making experiences with them and have fun! 

Time - Activity

7:00-7:30 AM - Wake up; AM Hygiene; Breakfast

7:30-8:00 AM - AM Chores (eg. Make bed, breakfast dishes, pet care)

8:00-10:00 AM - Lakes Park (Jungle Gym & Water Feature)

10-10:45 AM - Change/Clean up; video games

10:45-11:45 AM - Help Make Lunch; Eat; Clean up

11:45-12:45 PM - Nap/Rest/Quiet Time 

12:45-2:00 PM - Board Games

2:00-2:30 PM - PM Chores (Laundry, vacuum, clean windows & mirrors)

2:30-3:00 - Read a book

3:00-4:00 - Craft Activity

4:00-4:30 - Free Choice/ Outside Play

4:30-5:30 - Help Make Dinner

5:30-6:00 - Dinner

6:00-6:30 - Help Clean Up table, dishes, garbage

6:30-7:30 - Family TV time

7:30-8:30 - PM Hygiene / Bed time