A lot of people consider Memorial Day to be the start to summer. Officially, summer starts when the sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator. That date varies from June 20th, 21st, and 22nd. This year, summer came in on June 20th at 11:39 pm. However, if you ask any parent with school-age children, they will tell you that summer starts the minute school is out.
After titling this article, I began to wonder – IS the living easy in the summer? For many parents, the in-school school year was quite short. My niece and her husband mostly worked from home while their two sons had virtual learning that they oversaw. Now that their offices are opening back up to their employees, it is back to getting them up and ready to spend the day in some form of care, being it camp, grandparents, or friends. Unlike a school schedule, summer is working in other activities for the children to enjoy, but one that keeps parents on their toes.
If you are a grandparent that watches your grandchildren throughout the year, you understand how your days changed. No longer did you have your mornings and early afternoons free to schedule appointments, run errands, or get together with friends. You only had a couple of months of the children being in school, when, BAM – summer vacation – and your free time wasn’t free anymore.
Keeping children engaged is important to their intellectual, physical, and socialization wellbeing. That doesn’t mean they need to be going somewhere or doing something during every waking minute. We all need to decompress from time to time. However, it is nice to have options of things to do while the grandchildren are in your care.
North Carolina has so many wonderful places that not only provide entertainment, but are a good learning experience as well. Winston-Salem is home to Kaleideum Downtown (formerly Children’s Museum of W-S). There are many interactive exhibits and hands-on activities that will send your grandchildren’s minds soaring. They also offer day camps available through August for ages three through rising seventh graders.
Kaleideum North (formerly SciWorks) is another interactive, hands-on museum. This center will keep your grandchildren entertained for hours with their multitude of fascinating exhibits. They will also meet and learn about a number of live animals. There is an environmental park with winding trails, a play and picnic area, and a children’s garden to dig into, while surrounded by plants native to North Carolina. They also offer summer day camps.
Want to get away? The beautiful North Carolina Zoo is a mere hour from Winston-Salem in Asheboro. My grandchildren love going there, and we usually make a day of it. Bring your lunch or opt to buy lunch at one of several places in the park. There are a number of picnic tables to sit at and enjoy your meal. It’s also a nice break after hiking around the many walking trails to view the different habitats in the North America and Africa areas. At this writing, the zoo is open only with a reservation, so make sure to plan ahead.
Going in the other direction, head to the beautiful, and a nice way to beat the summer heat, mountains. While the Biltmore house in Asheville won’t excite your very young grandchildren, the older ones will be fascinated with the opulence and grandeur of this historic place. Having first visited as a young child, I fell in love with the library, and it’s still my favorite room.
Whether you stay in your hometown or choose to venture out, you will find there are a number of interesting, entertaining, and educational experiences to be had. Local parks, swimming pools, lakes, hiking trails, playing board games, working puzzles, baking, painting, or just running through the sprinkler in the backyard will be a nice break from screen time. Whatever you choose to do or wherever you go, make sure to plan ahead. If away from home, pack sunscreen, have water available, and include some snacks because children are always hungry! Most of all, have fun and take pictures!