Summertime is supposed to be an easy time, evoking images of happy children with dirt necklaces, of lounging on the front porch with ice tea, of evenings soothed with fireflies and the lullabies of crickets and cicadas. In our society, this is about as close to reality as Brahms is to Ice T. Our summers are often wasted fiddling with video games and strumming the remote, leaving kids chorusing "I'm bored." If you're going to play the blues this summer, take a lesson from George Gershwin. He has composed the perfect summertime accompaniment for the lazy, hot days that lie ahead.

Your kids don't need a cane pole to go fishing for a new school of knowledge. Review basic skills, or to get a head start on next year's subjects and reading lists using software and music that make study feel like play. Choose books, videos and summer excursions around one learning theme. Research your vacation destination; find out about its history, geography, activities and bargains. Do whatever it takes to get your kids to read. Our family has a spreadsheet that rewards television time for minutes read, and we'd be happy to share it with you if you'll email us and ask.

Even if you don't have any cotton, chores should be a part of your child's summer, as they teach responsibility. Have your child work on their regular jobs. Expand their horizons by teaching new domestic skills like window washing or painting. Teach the boys to wash clothes and the girls to change the oil in the car. Clean out closets together, or plant a garden. Use your time to volunteer your services to others.

Actually, since my children's Daddy isn't rich, summertime is the perfect time for our boys to make their own money. On trash days, one of our children takes the neighbor's cans to and from the street. Another son feeds animals for vacationing friends. One boy has made and distributed a flyer advertising his mowing skills. Your child can probably find someone with a need to fill. Challenge the entrepreneurial spirit to grow under your own roof, and maybe your grandchildren will end up with a rich daddy.

Summertime is diet time for many women, but the whole family can use the season to eat better and exercise more. Take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables. Cook together, and learn some new recipes. Let your kids try their hand at making nutritious menus and frugal shopping lists. Drive past McDonald's and have a picnic. Go swimming, ride bikes, or go hiking. Learn a new sport, or learn how to dance. Set some habits that will carry over to the rest of the year.

Let summertime be easy for your family. School will start again soon enough, so try not to sweat over anything but the hot weather. Be inspired by Summertime. Keep your children's summer from turning into one long Looney Tune. Improvise your own summer aria, and make music with your children. Just make sure to play Gershwin in the background.

Author's Bio: 

Kayla Fay is a freelance writer and the publisher of, Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet?. Kayla and her four boys are counting the days until school is over, and they can begin their own summertime song. For more suggestions on making summertime easy, visit Kayla at, or email her at