Summer days are typically filled with sunshine, picnics, pool days and cook outs. Families plan zoo trips, amusement park outings and outdoor adventures.
But what happens when you are married to a firefighter who may not have anyone to trade him shift days, or who might have to run out the door at the drop of his volunteer tones? Looking back over the years as a firewife, there were many times I had to get creative to keep my kids busy and entertained while my husband was on shift.
It's important to show your kids that life doesn't have to stop just because Dad has to work. There were many memories that we made together that would have been missed out on if we only planned activities when he was around. Life doesn't always go as planned and teaching your kids to improvise and go with the flow is a great lesson.
I always found shift nights were the best nights to let my kids host sleepovers at our house. I didn't have to worry about them keeping him awake all night before a shift with their laughter and shenanigans. Kids love to rent the latest movie, bake homemade pizzas and play silly games. Let them cut lose and be loud.
I always let each kid pick one friend to invite over. They picked the menu and activities. A few of their favorite sleepover activities were blanket forts, hide and seek in the dark, and spa nights. If your kids aren't old enough for friend sleepovers, these are all things you can easily do with your little ones. Make a big bed on the living room floor and have a sleepover together!
Keep Em Busy
Activities that kept them busy and passed time the fastest were always my favorite. We got to spend time together and have fun, but before we knew it my husband was pulling in the drive. We spent many afternoons at the pool. They could spend hours upon hours swimming laps, playing Marco Polo and diving off the diving boards. I would often join them in the pool to cool off as well, but I could also have the time to get lost in the latest book I picked up from the library.
We would pack a picnic lunch and make a whole day trip out of it. By the time we would get home in the evening, have dinner, shower and get into our pajamas they could barely keep their eyes open. I'd tuck them in for the night and before they knew it Dad was walking in the door the next morning.
Whatever activities you choose for shift days, don't let those sunny summer days get away from you. There's only so many months out of the year to get your kids outside to have fun and enjoy the amazing weather. Don't cancel your RSVP to the neighborhood cookout just because your firefighter ran out the door to a structure fire 30 minutes beforehand. If you promised your kids a camping trip to the mountains but he can't get anyone to cover the only weekend you have free to go, take them anyhow!
Kids need to know that Mom can and will handle life while Dad is gone and won't take that time for granted. Before you know it you will be watching your youngest graduate high school. You will look back on all those summer vacations, family trips and fun memories. Make sure you can be confident that you jam packed their summers and made them memorable, not just for their sake, but your own sanity too.
What is your favorite way to spend a summer shift day with your kids?
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