Whether you’re entertaining three kids or three generations, summer gives you great opportunities to spend time together in the garden, breathing fresh air and creating memories. It’s also a much-needed opportunity to build vitamin D levels; scientists have found that people living north of Chicago don’t receive enough sun exposure from November – February to make vitamin D, so make the most of the summer months, and use the sun safely to boost your health. Now’s the chance to celebrate all those colorful blooms you’ve been nurturing, as well as taking pleasure in watching your family enjoy good food with good people.
Throw shade (the good way)
However much (or little) space you may have, you must plan how to use it. You want the kids to be able to run around and play – a third of Indiana’s children are overweight or obese, and they need every opportunity to get out and move freely – but equally you don’t want a boisterous game of soccer right under the hot sun. Nor do you want Grandma trying to cuddle the baby while they both swelter in direct heat. Create zones to help everyone enjoy their part of the garden, and maximize your shade so that everyone gets some protection from the sun. When you have no space for a permanent gazebo or shelter, Marygrove.com advises customized retractable awnings so that you can provide shelter whatever your garden’s layout.
Research has shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress and anxiety, making garden games the perfect health boost for all of your loved ones, from the smallest to the tallest. Try to choose activities which everyone is able to take part in; whether it’s a treasure hunt or chalk-drawing on the wall, young and old alike can get involved. Younger children will also love being given a bucket of water and a clean paintbrush to ‘paint’ the paving stones and marvel as it dries away. For added atmosphere, create a playlist of old and new tracks to provide your family’s unique soundtrack to summer.
Having fun together is hungry work, so be ready with delicious food options to keep everyone full and happy. You may not know it, but Chicago has a proud BBQ history; it’s also a tasty way to give your family healthy grilled proteins such as fish, chicken and lean red meats, alongside colorful salads, corn cobs and more. You can even cook dessert outside: grilled peaches with honey, or bananas cooked in foil with chocolate sauce, are popular with all ages. Add homemade iced lemonade or cool fruit juices and everyone will enjoy sipping them as the sun goes down.
Gathering your loved ones around you and sharing time in the garden is one of the joys of summer. Plan your space carefully so that everyone can get along and enjoy shade, games and good tunes in harmony with each other. Add healthy, great-tasting food, and you have the recipe for summer bliss.