Spring is more than halfway done and the unofficial start to summer is here – Victoria Day! A long weekend is a great opportunity to spend some time together as a family, and all the better that the warmer weather is finally here! If you don’t already have plans for this May long weekend, here are some ideas for you and your family to make some memories together.
Take a hike
With the warm weather upon us, this is the perfect weekend to take a technology break. Head to the nearest provincial park and get moving! Hiking is great exercise and after a long, cold winter, it always feels great to be outdoors without worrying about the temperature. But studies show that hiking is great for your brain as well. It has even been shown to help increase attention span and may contribute to creative problem-solving skills.
Taking time to enjoy the great outdoors and get some exercise together is an opportunity to connect with your kids and make sure that everyone has the chance to practice mindfulness, or being present in the moment. If that’s something that’s important to you, this could be a good time to leave the mobile devices at home (or, if you feel safer bringing one phone, keeping it powered off and only turning it on in case of an emergency). This ensures that there are no distractions from the beauty of nature, and that you can really have a chance to talk as you hike and reconnect as a family. Just remember to pack the sunscreen, bug spray, and water!
If you don’t have access to a hiking trail, provincial or federal park, a family game of soccer, slacklining, or even a good old-fashioned stroll are all great ways to get outside and get moving as a family.
With the warm weather upon us, this is the perfect weekend to take a technology break. – for sharing
Get your hands dirty
Canadian gardeners know that May 24 is the weekend when plants go in the ground – why not get planting as a family? Shopping for plants together with your kids is a great way to introduce them to plant life cycles, and help them to understand what plants can grow where and why. (Maybe parents will learn something, too!) What plants will work in that shady corner by the garage? What about the patch of flower bed that has full sun all day long? Why can or can’t the same plant be happy in both places?
If you have the space, a vegetable or fruit garden is a great way for kids to connect with their food, too. By helping you to plant some tomatoes, strawberries, and basil (all hardy, easy-to-grow plants), children can learn about how food is produced, and how much time and energy goes into each and every vegetable and fruit. It’s also a super rewarding activity – how exciting to be able to eat something that you grew yourself! You don’t need a big backyard, either: many fruits, vegetables, and flowering plants do well in pots on a balcony, or even indoors in a sunny window.
Kids can also grow some cool science projects from food waste. Yes, you read that correctly – rather than throwing them in the compost, you can use several types of food scraps to practice growing plants! Avocado seeds, pineapple stems, green onions and even romaine lettuce can grow into fun houseplants, although they probably won’t bear edible fruit. A quick Google search shows lots of results with plant options and instructions on how to grow them!
Are your kids attending summer camp at Muskoka Woods this year? Now is a great time to make sure they have everything they need for the week(s) that they’ll be at camp! Be sure to check if their summer clothes and shoes fit, and make sure they’re clean and labelled. What about any sports equipment they might be bringing – are they still in good working order, or do they need to be repaired? Have your child think about what they might need and what they will definitely not need during their stay. Their favourite hat is a good packing choice, but any valuables or sentimental items that could be lost should be left at home.
Now the fun part – trying to get everything in the bag! Make sure that all items your child needs and/or wants to bring to camp fit easily into their luggage without any cramming, pulling, or difficulty. Otherwise, it may be very difficult for them at the end of their stay to get it all packed up again for the trip home! Some guests do well with a written list of all items they’ve brought (so they don’t forget anything at camp), while others like to practice packing their bag a few times before camp week arrives. This is also a good way for kids to get excited about their upcoming time at Muskoka Woods: while folding their swimsuit they can imagine the fun they’ll have on beautiful Lake Rousseau; packing their running shoes might help them envision the soccer game or mountain biking expedition that they’ve been anticipating.
Be sure to check out our packing list at muskokawoods.com for a full list of necessities.
Have your fill of thrills
Are you a family of thrill-seekers? Why not check out one of the amusement parks that are now open for the season! Having fun at an amusement park is a great opportunity to spend quality time together in a way that’s super exciting for the kids. Whether it’s the scary-but-oh-so-fun ride that’s just opened, or the old favourite snack cotton candy, amusement parks have a lot to offer in the way of entertainment – but did you ever think about the health benefits?
Amusement parks force you to spend tons of time walking in order to get from A to B, which offers some exercise. This is also a time to forget about work or homework assignments and deadlines, and really live in the moment. The rides and games will help you forget the worries and stress of work and school, and really focus on bonding as a family.
Lines for popular amusement park rides tend to be shorter in May, so you can try out more rides in a day than you would in the middle of the summer season! – for sharing
The thrill of the adrenaline rush experienced on moderately scary rides like roller coasters is also a mood-booster, leaving you and your kids laughing together with smiles on your faces at the end of an exciting day!
Bonus: lines for popular rides tend to be shorter in May, so you can try out more activities in a day than you would in the middle of the summer season!
Spring Cleaning Olympics
As summer approaches, it’s the perfect opportunity to open the windows, get some fresh air in your home, and get cleaning. And there’s no reason the whole family shouldn’t pitch in! Spring cleaning is a great opportunity for kids to develop a bit of independence and a sense of familial responsibility. Whether they’re in charge of cleaning their own room top-to-bottom, or helping their siblings to complete tasks in shared spaces, this can even be a bonding exercise. Why not make it into a tournament? The Spring Cleaning Olympics!
One family member is in charge of music. Everyone can dance around the room and dust surfaces until the music stops, at which point, they must freeze. Anyone who doesn’t freeze or who laughs is “out”.
Sort the laundry
Two laundry baskets sit at one end of the room (one for lights, one for darks), while two kids stand at the other end. They take laundry from an unsorted pile and throw to the baskets. Players get one point for each article of clothing that lands in the correct basket. When all of the laundry is sorted, the player with the most points wins!
The bed-making race
In each child’s bedroom, use a stopwatch to time how quickly they can make their bed, to a high standard (tucking in the sheets, and smoothing everything out rather than just throwing the blankets on top). They can “practice” to improve their time, and in the future they’ll have a shorter morning routine!
You can reward everyone at the end of the Cleaning Olympics with a special ice cream treat, pizza dinner, or trip to their favourite toy store; and you’ve got some tired-but-happy kids and a clean home!
Mathieu Yuill is a communications and leadership professional based in Toronto, Canada. He’s passionate about developing people of all ages and has a vision that communities of people who have discovered their full potential and act on this knowledge to create value for themselves and others. He is married to Alison and together they have three boys.