Summer is here! Life is getting somewhat back to “normal.” This year has been challenging for everyone, but it’s been especially difficult for us parents. After all, there isn’t a manual on navigating yourself and your family through a pandemic. We’ve had to juggle working, parenting, teaching, and counseling from the inside of our homes. Our children have been on their computers and tablets e-learning and communicating with friends and family more than usual. But the end of the pandemic is near, and it’s about time we take a deep breath and start safely opening our social bubble again. What better time to do this than summer!
Here’s a little bit of background information about us. We’re sisters from Illinois who grew up involved in many different activities, starting from the age of 3. From ballet, soccer, and golf to volunteering at our local Safety Village and attending theatre summer camps, we’ve tried it all at some point. We both played collegiate volleyball at Division 1 universities, Lauren at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, and Lisa at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. Lauren is now a mom of two kids, 5 & 3 years old. She is recently a stay-at-home mom who coaches high school-age girls at a local competitive volleyball club. Lisa is a mom of two kids, 3 & 1 years old, with another due in June. She works full time from home for the Junior Volleyball Association and also coaches at the same volleyball club.
As we can all relate, parents’ schedules are constantly shifting, but we have to remain flexible, often at the drop of a hat. What works for one family might not work for the next, so our schedules and types of activities that we have our children enrolled in may look completely different from each other. Every one of us, however, has just experienced a pandemic and we’ve all been cooped up and isolated for longer than normal. Whether our children are into math, painting, sports, gardening or science, we can agree that it’s time to get them safely back into their activities while balancing schedules that work for ourselves and our families.
Why get our kids into summer activities? The benefits, especially after a year of isolation, are endless, but here are a few reasons why we should get our kids moving and socializing:
- Improves coordination by developing fine and gross motor skills. Something an IPAD cannot do!
- Combats childhood obesity and helps maintain overall physical health.
- Teaches children how to listen to and work with adults and peers outside of their family and everyday circles. We know our kids listen to others better than they do us!
- Presents an opportunity for the children to make new friends from different social circles.
- Instills self-confidence, self-awareness and has other positive effects on personal development.
- Provides a mental, emotional, creative, and physical outlet from the pandemic, school, and everyday routines.
- Gives us parents an outlet too. We deserve it!
When we were young, our parents enrolled us in many different summer activities. It was a nice break from the daily grind of school, and we met some of our closest friends, many of whom we still have today, through these activities. These activities also assisted in laying the groundwork that built a foundation for each of our futures. Having our children in different activities is something that we are both very passionate about. We hope that our children will learn the same skills and lessons from their respective activities and benefit from them the way we feel we have. Below is a list of skills that our children can learn from having them in different activities this summer:
- Builds teamwork and leadership skills, which carry over into their school and work environments.
- Teaches the value of hard work.
- Teaches the feeling of accomplishment when they succeed after putting in the hard work.
- Introduces discipline, perseverance, and time management.
- Develops social skills such as empathy, conflict resolution, and how to actively listen to one another.
- Instills a sense of community within our children.
- This is important! Teaches kids how to fail and to hear constructive criticism as well as how to learn from it.
Now you may be wondering where to find youth activities or how to choose the right amount without getting overwhelmed. Every family is different, and maybe only one activity is all you can fit in – That is ok! Do whatever is best for your situation and your child(ren). Here are a few places to look for youth summer activities and volunteer opportunities:
- Local sports clubs (ex. Volleyball, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, etc.)
- Summer camps
- Park districts
- Rec/Community centers
- Local churches
- Golf/tennis clubs
- Middle/High Schools
We do not need to overwhelm ourselves anymore this year, but summer activities will get our kids’ social lives going again. From experience, not only have our children met new friends and become happier kids, but we have met new parent friends that we enjoy hanging out with and socializing with. Also, nothing is more rewarding then when you see your child’s face after they’ve scored their first goal or after they’ve swam without their floaties for the first time! ◙
About Lauren and Lisa
Lauren Krug (left) graduated from Marquette university with a major in Psychology. She played Division I volleyball while at Marquette, has coached volleyball and continues to coach local competitive volleyball teams. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two children.
Lisa Wielebnicki (right) graduated from Purdue University in Retail Management with a minor in Communications and Organizational Leadership & Supervision. Lisa played Division I volleyball at Purdue. She is the mother of two children, coaches competitive volleyball and works full-time as Director of Member Development for the Junior Volleyball Association.