By: Heather Lynn Ward, MSW, LSW, CPS
Usually summer means camps, family vacations, playing with friends all day long, and/or not thinking about school, teachers, or homework. Summer break is time off from school most youth look forward to all year long. Although COVID-19 has made 2020 a year like no other, youth have still been looking forward to this time off just the same.
Even if summer plans have been canceled, that does not mean all fun comes to a halt. There are so many activities and hobbies youth and families can take part in while following safety guidelines put into effect by the government. Summer 2020 may be the perfect time to think about getting back to the basics when thinking about fun for everyone. Stocking up on and making available coloring books, crayons, markers, colored pencils, pencils and pens can bring out the creative side of anyone in the house. Writing stories, as well as coloring and drawing pictures to bring those stories to life, can not only pass time, but bring out the imagination of people no matter how old.
Journaling about each day is also an activity everyone can do; for children who cannot write yet, drawing pictures about their day and feelings is a great option. These journals can also be mini-timekeepers to store away and look back on in years to come in order to remember the pandemic and how the summer was impacted. Depending on the age of youth, crafting projects like pasta art or making slime can be great art projects to not only have fun but bond with siblings and other family members.
If something more physical is needed, getting outside and playing or practicing a sport is great during this summer. Sports not only build self-confidence, but can also be an outlet for negative emotions and thoughts. These sports can be practiced alone or between family members if social distancing and face coverings are not an option. Families can also think of things like daily walks together to see who can find the most animals outside, or to see what shapes the clouds are. Bike riding, skateboarding, or using a scooter are also great alternatives to getting physical activity into one's schedule while keeping six feet apart and/or wearing a face covering if done with friends.
Even though this summer is different, the opportunity to do more things together as a family is a great reminder of what truly matters. The memories that are made this summer are sure to have lasting impressions on everyone, and hopefully the activities started during this time can continue into the fall and beyond.