RachaelRachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

What are your family summer goals? How will you make every day count?

Summer vacation for my family is more than half done. When the school doors open with a metallic clank in August and my house is once again a little quieter, a little cleaner, and a little lonelier, I’ll take solace in knowing we made our summer count.

My family is taking advantage of these lazy, busy, hot days of freedom.

I’ve read that one of the greatest ways to enrich children’s educations is to provide them with a broad range of experiences outside the classroom, from road trips to park outings to visits to museums, and more.

Seeking out those experiences is one of my primary summer goals.

We don’t have the budget for grand vacations and splurges, although we were fortunate to be able to take a big (for us) road trip earlier this summer. Luckily, anyone can make memories and provide learning experiences during summer vacation while spending little to no money.

This summer, my daughters have …

Splashed in puddles after a storm.

Eaten Popsicles in the backyard.

Gone swimming.

Ridden bikes around the neighborhood.

Watched live theatre productions.

Traveled to states they’ve never been to before.

Slept in a tent.

Roasted hot dogs over a campfire.

Gotten their feet wet while hiking along a shallow stream.

Stayed up late watching a movie and cuddling with me on the couch.

Stayed up late reading books.

Played with their cousins.

Visited a farm and held baby chicks.

Seen animals at the zoo.

Ridden a train.

Played at a beach.

Gotten bored and learned how to make their own entertainment.

Played with the neighbor’s dog.

Caught lightning bugs.

Watched fireworks.

Played at playgrounds.

Gone for walks and bike rides around our neighborhood.

Planted green bean seeds in our garden.

Picked sugar snap peas from our garden.

Spent all day in their bathing suits.

Eaten funnel cake and ridden carnival rides at a local festival.

Explored museums.

Hugged their grandparents and great-grandparents.

Won some prizes through the library’s summer reading program.

Grown an inch or two.

Had interesting conversations with my husband and me during road trips.

Eaten dinner outside.

Developed a little more compassion.

Matured a little.

Learned more about our world.

Soon, when the school supplies go on sale and we’re combing the Walmart aisles with printed shopping lists in hand, when we’re evaluating whether last year’s backpack can survive another school year, we will feel sad about summer’s end.

Yet we’ll know that we had a pretty darn good summer, with as much fun and relaxation and unique experiences as would fit in our schedule and our budget. No regrets. Only astonishment at how quickly the weeks passed, how many memories we made, and how much learning we were able to sneak in without the kids suspecting.

The summer is not over. There are more adventures and more lazy afternoons to be had.

So get busy. Do a little backyard grilling. Visit the park. Take an overnight trip. Eat some watermelon. Read books on a blanket in the yard. Don’t forget the sunscreen. And have a great time!

What are your summer goals?

Photo credit: Flickr.com

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