Creating joy and fond memories with your kids It’s that time of year to gear up for summer with your kids. While it’s exciting, it can also be daunting. You have to find that balance between too much structured time and too little, and getting your work and chores done while still cherishing summer adventures with your kids. The worst feeling is getting to the end of summer and realizing you didn’t fit in enough play or really experience the joy of the season with your kids. Being productive and getting everything on your list done is great, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t create joy and fond memories. For those, you have to stop and make a conscious effort to set down the rest of your life, and just be in the present, wonderful moment.

The key to fitting in fun and finding that balance is setting good intentions and acting on them. That takes planning and contemplating. For example, what is your favorite summer activity, and how and when can you fit it in with your kids? If it’s backpacking or camping, get out the calendar right now and mark out a few summer weekends, even if you don’t know where you’d like to go. Next, deem certain days or afternoons adventure time with your kids—and stick to it as if it’s just as important an appointment as going to work or the doctor’s. Maybe it’s just Friday afternoons, but set everything else aside and let that be the time when you not only soak in summer, but soak in every moment with your kids. Finally, don’t forget that moms need some adult fun, too—time away from the kids with friends or a significant other. Consider it scheduled time to refresh your engine and gear up for the next family adventure. Here are some ideas to get you rolling:

Deem one day a week Adventure Day

Let your kids know that Friday, or whatever works, is always adventure day. Sit down and brainstorm out-of-the-ordinary things to do with them. Let everyone have a voice and create a bucket list of adventures for the summer. Star the favorite ones and start there. Ideas: Tubing down the Poudre River from Picnic Rock, visiting The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenseburg, CO that has rescued tigers, lions, bears, wolves and more, hiking in nearby Vedauwoo and Happy Jack natural areas near Laramie, Wyoming, mountain biking in Lory State Park, visiting the Lee Martinez Farm in Fort Collins or simply getting a butterfly net and catching bugs at the local park. 

Visit a new park each week

There are over 50 parks in Fort Collins, 35 parks in Loveland, and over 30 parks in Greeley—and even more in Windsor—so you could literally explore a new park every day of the summer in Northern Colorado and not see them all. Get on the various city websites and pick 12 of the top ones you’d like to visit this summer—ones you’ve never been to before. Put them on the list.

Get cultured around town

Living in Northern Colorado, we are extremely lucky to have so many outlets for music and art. Schedule several Culture Hours throughout the summer where you go listen to live music, including Noontime Notes, Lagoon Concert Series at CSU, Thursday Night Live concerts at Old Town Square and many more listed in Visit Fort Collins’ Outdoor Summer Concert Series. Also, visit area art museums and the sculpture parks in Loveland. Then, go home and make your own music and art with your kids. Your first Culture Hour could be going to the store to create an “Art Box” filled with anything and everything your kids might need to create art from paints, markers, crayons, sketching paper, and construction paper to stickers, sequins, feathers, glue, and more. Join in on the fun and worry about the mess later.

Mom day out

Lastly, don’t forget time for you. Plan a weekend away with girlfriends or your spouse. Go to a music festival, camp near a hot springs, backpack a new trail, or stay in Denver for the weekend enjoying a special event, good food and music. Remember, life’s an adventure, so plan for it!