Summer is a great time to try fun new activities. It’s an ideal time to be outdoors and traveling. It’s also a good time to think about how you can draw your family closer together. Are there new family traditions that you can start now that will be really meaningful to your children in years to come?
Below is a list of 10 things your family can do together to have a great time:
Visit local museums, zoos, and parks. Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo, Children’s Discovery Museum and Memorial Park are some of the most popular places for families. Many museums have free admission one day a week, so check the websites. Save some money by looking for the CityPass network, which offers tickets to popular places for about half of what you’d pay at the gates.
Play in the water. Nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer day than taking a dip in the cool water or playing in a sprinkler. Make sure you teach your kids to swim. If they’re still too little to really swim you want to start by teaching them water safety. That way you can visit the beach, streams or pools with greater peace of mind.
Get plenty of exercise. Try some new age-appropriate activities, whether it’s playing sports, flying a kite, jumping rope or riding bicycles. A unique fun center to burn off some of that excess energy is Sky High Sports in Santa Clara – they have a trampoline you can’t fall off.
Learn a new creative skill in arts and music. You can do it yourself or you can check out the Community School of Music and Art in Mountain View. They have great programs for all ages, from toddler to adult, and they’re masters at helping children with special needs to artfully engage with the world around them.
Explore your own city. Now’s the time to find those special places close to home. Get a guidebook and visit the local attractions. Try new places to eat. Visit a farmer’s market like the one downtown San Jose on Fridays.
Explore neighboring cities and see what they have to offer in the way of entertainment and new cuisines. Just the sights and sounds in San Francisco alone could keep you busy all summer.
Take a road trip. It doesn’t have to be stressful if you get a travel guide and plan fun things along the way. Be spontaneous and take that side trip to some place that sounds interesting. Take along healthy snacks, CDs of music and books, games and layers of clothing that are easy to wear.
Begin a new family tradition. Many people take photos to remember special times. Why not take it a step further and begin a new tradition?
- Collect one ornament or memento per year for your child that summarizes what made the year special.
- Visit a different winery each year and buy a bottle of wine that stores well. By the time your child moves out, graduates from college or gets married you’ll have a collected a unique gift to give them.
- Plant a tree and take an annual picture of your child next to it showing how much each has grown.
- Read together as a family for 15 minutes every night. Snuggle on the sofa, as mom reads the narrative and dad reads the dialogue giving each character personality. Can’t you just hear the giggles and see the smiles?
Make meaningful connections with your family. How long has it been since grandparents have visited? Are there aunts, uncles and cousins your children don’t know? Don’t let another year slip by. Why not invite them to visit and record the family stories so their heritage doesn’t get lost? Make videos, recordings, scrapbooks, photos, or even begin a family diary so you can capture all of those memories.
Connect with the earth and the wonders around you. Get your hands in the earth and grow a garden and make garden decorations. Visit the Hakone Japanese Gardens in Saratoga or the Heritage Rose Garden in San Jose for a scent-sational experience. Lie on the grass and see the shapes in the clouds overhead. Go where it’s dark so you can see the stars and the fireflies. Visit a planetarium or observatory.
With the incredible variety of wonderful things to see and do in our locale, it won’t be hard to pick something your whole family can enjoy doing together. The challenge is to make the time to do it before your children are grown and you’ve lost the opportunity.
Carmela Guizar-Sanchez is a PAMP member and owner of Simplify Home Solutions, a lifestyle and household concierge service. She has a daughter age 7, son age 4 and just recently welcomed another son to their joyous family. You can find more of her tips at www.simplifyhomesolutions.com.
Image provided by Melissa Miller & Vinnie Fernandez, PAMP’s Lead Photographers and co-owners of C’est Jolie Photography