Parents, get ready, for they are coming.
Remember last September? Just after Labor Day, you sent them off with new lunchboxes, pointy pencils and extra-long pants. The classrooms unto which they were delivered smelled of fresh paint. They cried a little, and so did you. You went home to an empty house and drank a well-deserved, oddly uninterrupted cup of coffee.
Well, parents…eight PTA meetings, seven slumber parties, four music recitals and one soccer tournament later, your precious bundles of joy are coming back. In just a few days (if it hasn’t happened already), they’ll explode through your patio doors, a riot of hole-in-the-knee pants, dirty Tupperware and pencil stubs. That’s right, school is out. It’s time for swimming, tree climbing, papier-mâché in your blender and camp. It’s time for the inevitable and constant cries of, “I’m hungry,” “I’m bored,” and “Can I use the computer?” Ah, the glorious sounds of summer. Ready?
If not, we’re here to help…with your home, at least. Whether you’re having a staycation or just keeping your children occupied, having a comfortable home is the key to enjoying months which should be restful, relaxing and, most of all, fun. Here are a few tips to help you get your house prepped and ready for the kids of summer.
Your kids (and you) will be spending a significant part of the summer at home, so make sure your house is comfortable in any type of weather. In the Bay Area, our microclimates dictate different strategies for dealing with summer. Walnut Creek residents, it’s time to make sure your air conditioners are in good working order. San Franciscans, this is a great time to tune up your heating systems—you’ll want them on those cold summer mornings. And across the Bay Area, everyone can benefit from installing or repairing ceiling fans (or, if you’re ambitious, a whole house fan).
Organize for summer
Here in the Bay Area, we don’t stash our sweaters for summer. But if your kids will be hanging out at home, make sure you put away the monogrammed towels and wedding china. It’s also a good time to sort through all of the clothes, shoes, books and backpacks that have piled up over the school year. School and holiday clothes that fit now won’t fit in the fall. Also, make sure your kids have good, sturdy running shoes and sandals.
Now that you have space, create some summer-specific zones in your home. You may be ready to install new organization systems, or maybe you just want to move things around for the season. Either way, some of the zones you should create include:
- A corner near the back door for outdoor play equipment like skateboards, helmets, scooters and water guns.
- An art corner so kids don’t have to put away the colored pencils every time they want to get creative.
- An adventure zone where you keep pre-packed bags ready for spontaneous outings to the pool, beach, library or mall.
Prepare to garden
One of the best things about summer is having the chance to spend so much time outside. That said, in this world of iPads, game consoles and Instagram, it can be hard to get kids off the couch (and adults, for that matter). A gardening project can lure everyone outside with the promise of tangible rewards. But before you start planting with your kids, you’ll need to do a little preparation. Consider the layout of your yard (or porch). Which areas get the most sun? Are there areas with more or less drainage? You may need to build beds or mulch away weeds. You’ll probably need to purchase soil, or at least amend your existing soil. For more on how to prepare your garden for a new season, click here.
(Don’t worry if this all sounds too overwhelming. You can start with a very small patch. And for those with either no yard or no time, a container garden can provide plenty of fun and reward.)
Keep the critters out
It’s not fair—in many parts of the Bay Area, we get fog and mosquitoes (as well as spiders, flies, ants and raccoons). Take a preemptive strike and get your screens fixed now.
Use the Web
The Internet is full of great ideas for summer vacation. Here are some links that Bay Area parents should check out:
Bay Area Activities
- Bay Area Kid Fun updates this listing of kid-friendly events daily, so whether you plan ahead or just jump in the car, you’ll have somewhere fun to go.
- Every year, Bay Area Parent publishes region-specific summer survival guides with articles such as “How to Backpack with Kids” and “Free Family Fun.” Their current issue and back issues can all be found online.
- Marin parents: Marin Mommies has a terrific list of kid-centric outdoor activities in Marin County.
- Berkeley Parents Network, a moderated discussion forum, covers a wide range of parenting topics. Whether you’re choosing camps, sunscreen or playgrounds, you can use this resource wherever you live in the Bay Area.
Summer Survival Guides
More on Summer Planning
- Party on the Patio: How to Get Your Yard Set for Summer Fun
- Savvy Consumer Tip: Choosing a Summer Camp