In the heat of summer, it’s nice to remember the cooler parts of each day and use them to our advantage as parents. If kids are at camp during the day (or soon at school), morning and evening may be part of the few precious hours that we have with our children.

We can use the longer days to work around the oppressive heat and spend time together. For example, start and end the day with a family walk or bike ride. Throw a Frisbee or play ball on days when everyone is ready just a few minutes early in the morning. With a blanket on hand, have a spontaneous morning or evening picnic.

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Recently, I’ve noticed that since it is harder to bear the summer daytime heat, I cherish the cooler parts of the day and the special moments that unfold. Last Sunday morning, my two boys, who are new to fishing (along with their parents!) and loving it, taught their grandfather how to cast a fishing line for the first time. And the Friday evening before, the boys and I had a spontaneous picnic with my mom, who shared stories about how her grandmother loved to fish.

I wish that I could say that my children always want to get outside whenever I want them to. Sometimes one son wants to go outside and the other does not; sometimes I really have to earn my stripes when neither wants to go out. But, I can say with certainty that once they know (lovingly) they have no choice and with me by their side, they forget all about being contrarians. They notice with excitement the plants and animals around us.

As summer nears a close, make a list of your favorite things you like about spending time outside with your family. With every passing day, ensure you are doing at least one of them. Perhaps the kids can help you make the list too, and as the days pass by, you can add to the list what you are looking forward to about fall. The ideas will flow effortlessly and each of you will be making the most of your family time together.

Rebecca P. Cohen is Founder and President of Rebecca Plants LLC, is a gardening and outdoor lifestyle company that inspires families to be outside and improve their well being. For her weekly online video series, “Get Out of the House” as well as Starla J. King’s guest blog series “Savoring Summer,” visit

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Published: August 12, 2009