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HANG IN THERE: 22 Tips to Help You Survive the Summer

Trying to make it through the pandemic summer with the whole family (mostly) at home? Here are some suggestions from Chippewa Valley Family staff members and contributors to help you survive – and maybe even thrive – during this unusual season.

SURVIVAL TIP No. 1

Lay out an old white sheet in the yard, dress the kids in clothes you don’t care about, fill small balloons with paint, and let them smash the balloons on the sheet to make a one-of-a-kind piece of art. After it dries, this could be used as their fort building blanket. –Michelle Rowekamp

SURVIVAL TIP No. 2

Research some parks and other safe places to visit around the state. On the weekend, take a field trip there and do a scavenger hunt or give everyone bingo cards with nature objects and see who can fill up their card first. –Diana Peterson

SURVIVAL TIP No. 3

Challenge your kiddos to pick-out their favorite game, or toy and have them draw an advertisement while also coming up with a slogan. –Brian Maki

SURVIVAL TIP No. 4

Create your own version of summer camp. Even if that summer camp contains nothing but Mario Kart. –Rebecca Mennecke

SURVIVAL TIP No. 5

Pick a movie for theme night and make a dinner that matches the theme. You can even dress up and make decorations to match the theme. –Michelle Rowekamp

SURVIVAL TIP No. 6

Camp out in the backyard. Cook dinner over the fire pit – have all the fixings for everyone to make their own pudgy pies. End the night with s’mores and reading books/playing games under the stars. –Michelle Rowekamp

SURVIVAL TIP No. 7

Create a summer bucket list with your kids (or use ours!) to give them meaningful things to do throughout the summer. Then, create a backup plan so you have more ideas of things to do for when they inevitably say “I’m booored!” –Rebecca Mennecke

SURVIVAL TIP No. 8

Have your kids write a story with four reasons why they love their pet, while drawing a picture to match each reason –Brian Maki

SURVIVAL TIP No. 9

Mayonnaise gets crayon off the walls. I bet you didn’t know that, but you’re going to need to know that. Trust me. –Rebecca Mennecke

SURVIVAL TIP No. 10

If you’ve got distant relatives or friends, having them read to your kids over FaceTime or a similar app can be a life-saver. When the quarantine started, my father-in-law began reading the Harry Potter series to my son over FaceTime. Now they’re covering two chapters a day and are partway through the sixth book. They may be far apart, but all that reading has brought them closer together. –Tom Giffey

SURVIVAL TIP No. 11

Buy a croquet set and learn the rules. Have a family tournament. –Diana Peterson

SURVIVAL TIP No. 12

Set up a scavenger hunt for the kids around the house. Could incorporate chores to get done during the hunt, something educational, or just fun questions. Have it lead to a surprise at the end like a bucket of water balloons and water guns for an epic water fight after. –Michelle Rowekamp

SURVIVAL TIP No. 13

Just because ultraviolet light kills the coronavirus does not mean you should leave your kids outside without sunscreen. –Rebecca Mennecke

SURVIVAL TIP No. 14

Set up a “car wash” in the driveway with buckets of soapy water, sponges, and the hose. Have the kids bring out all their toy cars to clean. –Michelle Rowekamp

SURVIVAL TIP No. 15

Teach your kids a new skill. Cooking, baking, doing laundry, sewing, scrapbooking … anything but drawing on the walls. Anything. –Rebecca Mennecke

SURVIVAL TIP No. 16

Get the kids involved with cooking breakfast or dinner. Make a rainbow meal by trying to get a food of every color in the rainbow on your plate. You may have to get creative with food coloring! –Michelle Rowekamp

SURVIVAL TIP No. 17

Create a treasure hunt. Just make sure not to forget to actually bury the treasure  –Rebecca Mennecke

SURVIVAL TIP No. 18

Set up family movie nights. Opt for interesting documentaries that teach your children something new. And, no, Mommy Dead and Dearest is not a good choice at bedtime. –Rebecca Mennecke

SURVIVAL TIP No. 19

Summer is the perfect time for that project you’ve been putting off, right? Wrong. Kick back and enjoy the next episode of Tiger King. –Rebecca Mennecke

SURVIVAL TIP No. 20

As a family, pick a foreign country and do a little research about it. Find some fun recipes from the country to make for dinner. While you eat, stream several songs that and learn some of the language by looking up the names of your meal ingredients. –Diana Peterson

SURVIVAL TIP No. 21

My family set up a Rainbow Connection mail system in order to help the kids stay connected to their friends. We painted plain mailboxes and handed them out to our kids friends who live in the neighborhood. The kids are encouraged to drop off mail to each other – letters, stickers, small toys to share, movies/books to borrow, etc. It helps the kids stay connected to one other without the use of screens. Also encourages them to work on their handwriting, artistic skills, and gets them out exercising to bike or walk to deliver the mail. –Michelle Rowekamp

SURVIVAL TIP No. 22

When you attend the Farmer’s Market, let each person in the family pick out two items. When you get home, research recipes to incorporate all the ingredients into a meal. –Diana Peterson