Saturday, May 31, 2014

How to Plan Your Summer - Step 1: Adventure!

Or, How to Survive with all the Kids at Home!

Having all the kids home for summer can be a terrifying thought!  For the last week we have been living the good summer life and it has been AWESOME!

This week, I'll share my secrets for summer planning with kids--in 5 steps!  Today, I'll just let you know about Step 1, since it might take a little bit of planning to achieve it.

SUMMER SURVIVAL: STEP 1: Count up all your weeks of Summer Vacation.  Pick one "adventure" destination for each week of the summer.  I'm sure that you can come up with a few places right away!

This plan grew out of my newborn baby + older sister survival a few years ago.  I felt bad that my two-year-old didn't get to go to the park or do fun things that kids do because I was at home with a baby and very very tired.  So, I enacted "FRIDAY FUN DAYS" and I picked a place for us to go.  I would pack up the two kids and all the things you need for an infant (yikes!  That list is so long!) and head out on one adventure.  I didn't feel so bad if we stayed home all week because I knew on Friday we would have adventure!

We shared some sweet, sweet moments together on these wonderful Friday Fun Days.  It is a lot easier to pack up two kids (they can both put their own shoes on!) and head off on an adventure now, so I can expand my list of destinations!

One caveat: Your weekly adventure should not limit your adventuring.  Maybe your kids love to go to the park and need a trip there every day.  I try to stop at the park on the way home from anywhere, especially errands, even if only for 15 minutes, to give the kids time to run!  Your weekly adventure is merely a guarantee that you are going some place fun!

Here are the twelve places we are discovering this Summer in Southeast Michigan.  I'm sure that you have some of these places, or something like it, near you!

Summer Adventures in Southeast Michigan

(1) Hike in Maybury Park - Michigan has beautiful state and county parks.  They provide such wonderful places to explore and walk and be together.  My girls love walking among the tall tall trees!

(2) The Bee's Knees - Ceramic Painting!  This can get pricey, but is worth at least one trip in the summer.  They will glaze your items for you and put them in the kiln!  You pick them up later and they are fabulous!

(3) The Scrap Box - One of the best finds EVER!  This recycling center has strange and wonderful leftovers from businesses and craft projects.  Sticky back foam shapes, bottle tops, cardboard tubes, gems, and shells are just some of the items you can put in a pay-one-price and fill-it-up bulk bag!  Items are great for letting kids be creative, sensory bins, and a loose parts table (check these out on Pinterest).  If you are not local you can purchase a mail order box for about $50 or send me a really sweet email and maybe I will send you a small box of things for yourself!

(4) Splash Pad at McClumpha Park - Better and safer than a pool, the kids are happy to run around and through the sprayers and water showers.  TIP: Wear your bathing suit too, even if you don't plan on getting in the water.  You will still get wet!

(5) Toledo Zoo - I love zoos and I know that kids do too!  We will visit three different zoos this summer.  They all have something different to offer.  This zoo has a train ride, a savanna with free roaming animals, a small aquarium building, and an amazing elephant exhibit.  TIP: Don't be afraid of a day trip on your adventures - just make sure your kids can make it that far in a car!  Our current limit is one hour!

(6) Maybury Farm - This local farm is so local it is only 5 minutes from my house.  My kids have never been to a farm, so I thought that they needed to see a real one!  This farm is small, easy to see everything, and has a little play area!

(7) Michigan Flower Farm - You can pick your own flowers!!!  I have not been here yet, but I am really excited about it!

(8) Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum - A children's museum that has an excellent preschool room with dozens of, as the name implies, hands-on activities for the kids.  TIP: If your kids are small, try to get out the door early to places like this and arrive right at opening.  Things get busy about an hour after open.  Those early morning hours will be calmer and much more enjoyable.

(9) Lansing Zoo/Camp Out Weekend/Lake Swimming - Here is another zoo that we are going to visit.  This one is easy to walk, small, and you can get very close up to the animals.  We are stopping here on the way to a Camping Weekend where we will be able to swim in a lake and have fun at a sandy shore!

(9) Tollgate Farm - I have not been here yet, but it is a nearby farm with fields of flowers and lots of old beautiful trees.  I am thankful that my children appreciate a walk in nature.  I'm hoping to get some beautiful pictures of them here.

(10) Detroit Zoo - This is our "home" zoo and it has a great arctic exhibit.  My girls love spending time in the penguin exhibit, the butterfly house, and playing in the play area.  This picturesque zoo has plenty of great photo ops, especially some nice close up views at a natural preserve for local birds.

(11) Carrousel Acres - A local farm with lots of interesting animals for petting (kangaroo anyone?) and pony rides!

(12) World of Discovery Reptile Zoo - I recently found out about this place!  It has a specific focus on reptiles and invertebrates.  They even have a few birds.  I have never been here, so this will be a new and exciting adventure for us!

That is our list!  Twelve weeks, twelve fun adventures.  You can see that they are a little more involved and require more time than a quick trip to the park!  I am excited that my kids are old enough to go and enjoy these places.  However, I believe that all children should be exposed to these things as early as possible!  No matter how young your children are you should find a few adventures to share together.  I promise that they will be blessed memories!

Here are a few ideas if you are not a Michigan native: farm, park, beach, lake, mountain hike, zoos, aquarium, painting, craft shop events, library events, and local festivals/fairs.

Where will you be going this summer?  Do you make plans like this?

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