It won’t be long before school lets out–are you ready for a summer of unoccupied children? Does summer break mean they are unsupervised at home or running back and forth among friend’s houses with little structure or routine? What are the alternatives?

Have you considered camp? The American Camp Association asserts that “camp experiences often increase a child’s confidence, self-esteem, social skills, independence, leadership qualities, adventurousness, and positive connections to nature.” Their website details information about scholarships and financial assistance (seek specific information from individual camps, but the sooner you apply the better!) .

Worried that your child is not ready for such and adventure? Consider these guidelines from ACA’s “Preparing for Camp” page:

  • Is your child 7 or older? If not, look for a day camp in your area.
  • Does your child demonstrate an inclination toward camp? Is she or he excited about the idea? If so, this is a strong indication that camp is a reasonable option.
  • How have other overnight experiences gone with your child?

Simply Afterschool provides addition questions to ponder, such as, how much time does your child prefer to spend indoors rather than outdoors? What are the methods of the camp’s security? What is the child to supervisor ratio and the people to space ratio?

iD Tech suggests that you begin your search with one question: “What do you want your child to gain from the experience?” From there, narrow your criteria to traditional or academic camps. Traditional camps are for those hoping for nature and outdoor activities. Academic camps can be an excellent supplement to the school curriculum and/or a particularly good option for pre-college teens.

Barbara Rowley, writing for Parenting, was a frequent camper herself but her daughters were reluctant. She advocates camps that have been in operation for decades–preferable with the same staff, as the history underscores commitment, tradition, and knowledge. What is the camp’s philosophy? How does it reflect the traits you are looking for? Does it reflect an established community? Do the planned activities offer choice? How are communications handled between camp and parents? Ask the camp if they are ACA accredited (this will give an idea of the standards they have been required to meet.)

If you become overwhelmed in your research and begin questioning why you are sending your child to camp in the first place, read through some of the reasons in Sunshine Parenting. Among their reasoning is the fact that “schools aren’t doing a very good job of teaching kids grit, perseverance, and leadership.”

Where will your kids be going this summer?

Spring cleaning is a tradition similar to New Year’s Resolutions: we attempt to clear away the accumulations of dust, debris, and miscellaneous belongings that we no longer need or use in much the same way that we attempt to leave behind our undesirable habits. You might even be able to work toward your resolutions with your cleaning–go ahead and get rid of that Valentine’s Day candy you hid in your cupboard and dust off the unused treadmill that has been doubling as a storage shelf. Or perhaps you’ll want the chocolate but not the cumbersome exercise equipment.

In Asian and Middle Eastern cultures (following different calendars from the Gregorian calendar used in the West) spring cleaning technically takes place before the New Year, and cleaning is a ritual rooted in spiritual practice and traditions, a “tangible representation of changes happening within” as stated by Shanna Freeman in “Top 5 World Spring Cleaning Traditions” (How Stuff Works). This is a deliberate process of elimination of bad luck to prepare (and repair) your space for the acceptance of good luck.

Marie Kondo, author of best selling titles including The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy views spring cleaning less as a process of eliminating what she doesn’t like and more as “an expression of gratitude to the belongings that had made my winter comfortable and the initiation of a new beginning of myself.” Her article in The New Potato points out that ‘spring cleaning’ is not merely the tidying that is our routine throughout the year–it’s often a thorough re-assessment of wardrobe and exchange of seasonal clothing and linens.

If your resolutions included increased awareness of health and the environment (or even if they didn’t), this could be an appropriate time of year to assess how you clean and what  you clean with–could you (and/or other people or pets living in your house) benefit from a decrease in toxins? Lynn Allison, writing for Newsmax Health  provides her favorite alternatives to commercial cleaning products, and her list includes sunlight which is inhospitable to dust mites and bacteria . She recommends planning your spring cleaning days around the weather in order to take advantage of the sunlight (be cautious with items that could fade easily). Ingredients such as liquid soap, vinegar, and sodium percarbonate can be combined to clean appliances and other surfaces.

What is your favorite spring cleaning ritual or approach to cleaning and clearing your space?