We all know life with young children is busy, and it can be easy to fall into a routine of rushing through the day, only to wake up and do it all over again. In the name of fitting it all in, quality time with our little ones is also often scheduled with structured activities like playgroups and classes. Why not unplug with a good old-fashioned family picnic?
By Louise Gleeson
With summer finally here, chances are everyone’s schedule is slowing down a little, creating the perfect opportunity to spend more downtime with your family. Keep it simple – after all, your own childhood memories probably happened on ordinary days spent running through the sprinkler or riding bikes. Try creating a fun, family tradition that gets everyone involved: a weekly picnic!
Keep it fresh by changing the location from week to week. Parks and playgrounds are great, but think about taking your picnic to the beach, or the local outdoor pool. Get to know local trails and hiking paths. And if you’re headed to a museum for the day, pack a picnic to enjoy outside. (And don’t forget how much fun you can find in your own backyard!)
Here are some tips for the putting a memorable picnic together:
• Create a list with your little one to make sure you pack everything you need. Let them brainstorm what they would like to eat, play and do for the day.
• Choose a sturdy canvas bag to use and make it special by letting your little one help decorate it with fabric pens, or whatever you can find to glue on from around the house. You can also get creative with cardboard picnic boxes.
• Let your little one’s independence shine by letting them help pack the food (they’ll be more likely to eat it that way, too!). Cut up their favorite veggies and fruit, then let them fill up the containers for you.
• Stick to finger foods like veggies, whole grain crackers and pitas with hummus, and yogurt pouches, so you don’t have to worry about plates and cutlery. And pack drinks in reusable bottles to keep wasps and insects out.
• Bring the basics: a blanket to keep the food off the ground and provide a place for you and your little one to stretch out and relax, sunscreen and hats and ice packs to keep food at a safe temperature.
• Boost the fun factor by packing some picnic-friendly activities along (my must-haves are a ball, bubbles, and a Frisbee).
• Capture the memories by creating a special photo album of your summer picnic adventures you can enjoy for years to come!
Children thrive by spending quality time with their loved ones, and family traditions and rituals go a long way toward ensuring your child feels a sense of belonging and well-being. So step outside the schedule this summer and show your kids there is nothing you’d rather be doing than just spending time with them.
Louise is a freelance writer, blogger and mother of four who makes it her mission to find quiet moments in the chaos.