The combination of Brittany Freund’s titles in life makes her the ideal person to chat about how to make the most of the summer of 2020. Brittany is a mom to 4-year old, Braxon. She also has a Master’s in Social Work. Finally, she’s a case manager with Foundations’ foster care program.
Brittany shares her secrets to making this different kind of summer a big win for parents and children. Let’s dive right into her four tips for parents:
Parents, plan ahead. You don’t need fancy calendars or spend late nights trying to plan out complex activities for the family. Take some time on Sunday evening to check the weather forecast and plan a few fun activities with your kids. Either involve them in the process or let them know what you have planned. That way, if you need to pivot because of weather (or attitudes) you can do that with ease. Children are at our mercy as parents. They go where we go, so communicate with them what the week will look like. Preparing your children for activities helps them manage their emotions and expectations.
TIP: To put together a weekly plan, give your children a few pre-approved options to choose from, and sketch them out on a scrap piece of paper for everyone to see.
Pick your battles. Brittany knows this the hard way. She encourages parents to “let go of your high expectations of ourselves and our children. Let’s go out of our own way.” In 2020, we are more likely to find special memories in ordinary moments. In addition, things are going to go as planned this year. Let’s tolerate that discomfort and find extraordinary in every day.
TIP: It’s okay to be disappointed. Breathe and let it go.
While a lot of local parks don’t have scheduled teams or events this summer, local parks are open, and they are free. Go back to your favorite local park or playground or find a new one. It’s easy to “social distance” and at the same time feel connected to others who are laughing and playing nearby. One fun tradition for Brittany and her son is to have a Drive-thru Picnic, where they pick up lunch or dinner in the drive-thru and have a picnic in the park. Getting out of the house is good for children to burn off some energy and stimulate their minds.
TIP: Many communities have Hidden Rock groups, where people paint and hide rocks in parks and other areas. Go on a hunt for painted rocks. You also can create a simple park scavenger hunt for your family.
When you find something that seems to work, keep doing it. Brittany and her son love being crafty. Brittany and her son have lots of love and empathy for other creatures. One day, they were watching a video on YouTube (watch it here: Adorable Squirrel Eats at Picnic Table), and they were inspired to build their own picnic table for neighborhood squirrels. They found a picnic table plan online, built and painted it, installed it, and waited. And waited. And waited. Local squirrels didn’t find their table, even though it was bright blue. They added a squirrel sign, figuring that maybe the squirrels didn’t know it was a restaurant for them. And waited. Next, they added a tire swing. And waited. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the squirrels started to appear. It’s part of Brittany’s and her son’s morning routine to check on the squirrels. They can tell the squirrels apart, and they have named one frequent diner “Kyle”.
In addition, Brittany involves her son in daily activities like cooking. Sure, parents probably want to cook a meal and be done with it. Sometimes, include cooking one of the activities you plan. Get messy, make eggs that you have to throw away, and have fun.
Brittany’s personal motto is “measure once; cut 15 times.” Parents and children aren’t going to get it right the first, or the 15th, time.
TIP: Brittany and her son love to attend the free classes at Home Depot. It’s a regular activity in their life. There are classes for 3-12 year old’s, plus adult classes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Home Depot has discontinued the classes, but they are offering free take-home project kits.
Call your local Home Depot to learn more.
Mind your four Ps, and you’ll have Quite the summer!
Brittany, Braxon, and Kyle