(ThyBlackMan.com) Summertime has always been my favorite time of the year, probably because it was my father’s favorite time of the year. I was a Daddy’s girl, and summertime meant we got to hit the streets of New York and explore all that the Big Apple has to offer. My father, an immigrant of Jamaica, West Indies, had a knack for bringing home living outdoors, and as a kid, there was nothing more fun than being outside. Some of my best memories are of being with Dad in the summer. There were a lot of things my mother didn’t do. Not that she was unable to, and she was a great mother, she simply did not initiate certain activities. As a little girl, I thought it was that only Dads did fun stuff outside. As an adult I realize that isn’t true, but there are some activities, like certain sports, that are “stereotypically and traditionally male.”
If your child’s mother is traditionally or stereotypically female, it’s possible that your kids will not be exposed to those activities. So as a single Dad, if you get to spend the summer of a good portion of it with your child, take advantage of the things that your child’s mom may not be interested in, have time for or whatever the reason might be. Regardless of the gender of your child, do what you like to do and incorporate those activities into your summer fun plan. This is the time that you get to enjoy your children, but it is also the time that they get to know and enjoy you for an extended period of
1. Head to an amusement parks– What child doesn’t love the amusement park? My Dad was famous for waking us up and saying “get dressed quick, we are going to Coney Island!” For those of you from New York, you might remember Coney Island was a fun, inexpensive way to spend the day and stay close to home. Cotton candy, hot dogs and laughs ruled the day and it was like kiddy heaven spending the day out with Dad riding the Cyclone and eating those world famous Coney Island hotdogs.
2. Go Hiking– Hiking today was a long walk when I was a kid. Nevertheless, it was and still is fun. Making a day of it, fixing sandwiches, carrying the cooler and finding a lovely location where the children can learn about Mother Nature and the outdoors is educational, spiritual and a great way to bond. Be sure to bring your compass, insect repellent and plenty of sunscreen.
3. Enjoy a sunny day at the beach– Speaking of sunscreen, have plenty on hand when you pack up the kids for a day at the beach. Picnics at Sunken Meadows on Long Island or a day at Jones Beach was like telling me I won a million dollars. And for the adults, it was like a mini vacation for the cost of parking and groceries. We took food, blankets, towels and 1 beach chair for dad when I was a kid. Nowadays you might want to take a beach umbrella, beach chairs for everyone, beach toys like buckets and shovels to make it easier to bury you in the sand! If you are not up for being bitten by those nasty little sand bugs, be ready to help the kids build a really cool sand castle.
4. Fire up that grill- Whether you have a secret sauce or not, there is nothing better than a backyard barbeque, complete with all the fixin’s like potato salad, corn on the cob, hot dogs, burgers and beans. And for you vegetarians, you can grill tofu burgers and vegetable skewers. Anything on the grill is a great day for the children. If you are not a great chef or your potato salad is iffy, never fear. Pick up the sides from a grocery store chain and Google how to grill a burger. Make it fun and the kids will not care if you are not kin to the Neely’s.
5. Make homeade ice cream– I still remember the yummy, creamy ice cream my dad used to make. He had one of those old fashioned ice cream makers, the kind you hook up outdoors, add rock salt and grind up real cream with other ingredients. And he used to make ice pops out of orange juice and homemade lemonade too. His ice cream was better than anything you could buy from the store or off of a truck. It was made with laughter, love and was the topping was all of the wonderful memories.
6. Wash the car– Believe it or not, I loved washing the car with Dad. I still remember what he taught me about washing cars. Your kids might not think this is fun at first, but when you remind them that one day the car they are be washing might be their own, they will run to pick up the hose.
7. Maintaining the car– Teaching your children to check the oil, radiator and other fluids, fix a flat tire, is automobile 101. As a young girl, I felt safe behind the wheel because I could handle any basic thing that went wrong with my car, all things I learned from my Dad.
8. Take a summer vacation- My family spent vacations visiting family in Jamaica. It was the time I got to spend with my grandmother, my cousins and kick it in Dad’s hometown. Seeing what my father’s life was like when he was a kid was priceless. He loved it and so did I. Planning a child friendly family vacation is a great stress reliever and a way to introduce your children to life outside of their corner of the world.
9. Playing sports– My Dad was an athlete and he spent just about every day in the summer on the tennis court-with the exception of the last week of August and the 1st week in September which he spent at the U.S. Open in Flushing Park, and he always took me with him. He taught me to play tennis and started a family legacy. I love the game, so I taught my son who now has a side career in tennis. Sports is a significant part of our lives and it inspired my son and I to write: Single Mother the New Father, Volume 1 : Sports, our first book. Whatever sport you play, teach it to your kids and play it with them too! Sports will keep everyone in the family active, healthy, laughing and having lots of fun. And you never know, it just might help your kids make money or get into college on a scholarship (read Single Mother The New Father for more info these topics).
10. Programs and picnics in the park – Every activity with your children need not drain your pockets. A little research can work wonders towards helping you find free and low cost programs that are educational and fun for both you and the kids. Concerts, plays, roller skating, puppet shows, the zoo, family days and more are happening at a park near you.
I still love all of the things my Dad introduced me too, and I remember all the places we used to go together. Most of what my father and I did, I now do with my son. What you do and love, your children will likely do and love too, and they will cherish the memories you create with them for the rest of their lives.
This article is dedicated to my father Eric George Williams 1918-1995.
Staff Writer; Cathleen Williams
This talented sister is the author of Single Mother The New Father, Volume 1 Sports. She is a practicing attorney in New York City, a gifted public speaker and she is the 2012 New York State Regional Coordinator for International Men’s Day. She also hosts “Ask Cathleen” on Blog Talk Radio Sunday’s 7PM.
You can find her on the web at; http://www.cathleenwilliams.com.