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Today’s Hint: Four Tips for Celebrating July 4th with Kids

I have lots of special July 4th memories, mostly of summers visiting family in Maine and New Hampshire, and I’m eager to create similar memories with my own kids.

The Fourth of July is a great party celebrating our country, and hopefully for most of us, it’s also a nice long weekend to relax. In honor of July 4th, today’s hint is four tips for celebrating the holiday based on my experiences as a mom.

1. Don’t push it. This is a tough one we all struggle with, as we think “That parade/music festival/fireworks show sounds so incredibly fun! It will be so special for the kids! There’s a band playing that we love!” But, no one is going to enjoy festivities that go way past bedtime, involve tons of car travel in one day or require hours standing in the hot sun. Do you have a sensitive kid who hates crowds? It’s not going to be any different just because it’s a holiday. Give yourself permission to say “no”, to keep things low-key and to go with what your gut is telling you.

2014-07-04 12.07.332. Don’t get carried away. That adorable “July 4, 2015” t-shirt is going to seem like old news on July 5, 2015. If you like the idea of dressing up for the day, leverage what your children already have in their closets that’s red, white, and blue, or hit a local consignment or thrift store. Hosting a party? No one will judge you if your theme decor consists only of red paper plates, white cups, and blue napkins bought at a dollar store, or if there’s no special decor at all.

3. Do stay safe and healthy. It’s common sense, but bears repeating – it’s likely the day will be hot and sunny, so be extra sure to pack plenty of water, sun hats and sunscreen if you’re headed to the beach or an all-day picnic. You may also want to bring an umbrella, small tent or pop-up shelter for shade.

Make sure everyone eats a few healthy things between their cotton candy, popcorn or other treats, and if you’ll be out after dark, I suggest putting reflective vests on your kids. I also have other what-to-wear tips in an earlier hint on how to dress your kids for a crowd. Finally, if you’re planning on fireworks, bring earplugs or ear protectors for the whole family.

4. Do help your kids learn about why we’re celebrating. When I was a girl and devouring the Little House series for the first time, it really made an impression on me when I read about Laura and her family celebrating the Fourth of July. You could also do a July 4th craft together as a family, or visit the local library to see what they recommend for July 4th reading. It might be fun to ask your parents to share their July 4th memories with your kids, too.

Hopefully these tips will help your family have a safe and fun July 4th weekend – whatever your fun might look like. What are your tips for celebrating July 4th with kids? What are your hints for surviving and thriving during any summertime celebration? Share your advice below.

Karen Witham is a mother of two children who she can’t believe are already ages six and seven. She spends her time on both sides of the Bay, working full-time as an editor and writer in San Francisco and living in Oakland. A transplant from the East Coast, she spent ten years living in Boston and also loves New York and most of all, Paris. Karen has a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from Emerson College. She blogs at Thoughtstream. Connect with her on Twitter at @kewitham or LinkedIn.

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