Summer is finally here and your stepkids (or biological children who do not reside with you) have just arrived for a few weeks (or many months) of family time. It can be difficult to plan things with them especially if you don't spend a lot of time with them during the year, getting to know them and their interests.
What can you do with kids you don't really know?
What works when you are also on a tight budget?
First of all, realize that the most important thing to children is to spend time with their parents. We often hear quality time is better than quantity. When kids only see their biological parent a few times a year, both quantity and quality are important.
If you are going to have your child spend any time with you over the summer, make time to be there. Your spouse, your child's stepparent, can be the nicest person there is but the truth is your child has come to see YOU, the biological parent. Make time with your children this summer's priority.
How can you spend time together, have fun, and not break the bank?
Here are some time-honored ideas that we tend to forget because they're too simple.
- Go to a park and play games like Frisbee or catch. Nature has a way of making things more fun and simple. Bring a lunch and have a picnic. The time together will be remembered long into the future.
- Take pictures and videos. It's so amazing how fast kids change and we forget what we've done together. When you sit and look back at those photos, you'll be glad you had those moments together.
- Do a scrapbook or a video montage so that at the end of your time together, you have something tangible. It helps to weather the times when things might get rough.
- Have some in-home movie nights where each child gets a turn picking the movie and the snacks to eat. Then, after the movie, have a conversation about what made this movie great, what highlights made it special, and what takeaways apply to our life.
- Museums often have special admission days that are either free or low cost. Check them out and visit your local museum. There is so much to learn and explore. The same goes for libraries. This is a great way to learn what your children are really interested in, even if it's just picture books.
- Have the kids put on a show for the grown-ups, costumes and all. Have them set up a "booth" so that people can get "tickets" to come see the show. Have them write out the program so that you can add it to your scrapbook. Encourage kids to be creative and practice some speaking skills, all in the comfort of your own home.
- Invite extended family to spend time with the kids as well. Grandparents are so important to children, especially if they don't get to see them often. Children need to experience the love of their extended family especially because this can create a sense of stability in their lives. Spending a few days with grandparents, uncles and aunts can be a great way for you to have a break if the children are with you for a long period of time.
- If your children's birthdays are at a time during the year that you don't have them or see them, have a summer birthday party for the kids. It will be lots of fun for them, and they get to have another party with you present. Gifts don't have to be elaborate either. They can be things that would add to the activities already planned for the summer or an outfit that would make their time with you fun.
For more on how to create cohesive and harmonious stepfamilies, go to www.stepmomcoach.com and sign up for the FREE audio "The 3 Biggest Mistakes Stepfamilies Make" .
Diva Toolbox Contributor, Claudette Chenevert, known as "The Stepmom Coach" provides advice, support and guidance to those women who are entering the "Instant Family" realm, feeling overwhelmed, misunderstood and isolated.