Celebrate the Holiday with Easy Ideas
Where did summer sneak off to during the night? The unofficial end to summer is upon us. If you are caught with a 3-day weekend and no plans for how to enjoy it with the kids, try some of these easy (and inexpensive) ways to enjoy a last hurrah.
What is Labor Day, Anyway?
Seems to me if my kids are getting a 3-day weekend, they should know a little bit more about this holiday than just the fact that it means school is about to start. Labor Day, celebrated in the United States on the first Monday each September, marks the contributions of the American workforce. (I remember once as a child bemoaning the fact that we had to stay home on Labor Day and help chop wood for the winter – and my dad said to work with honor of those who work for our country – hard to argue with that logic).
Teach your kids about the meaning, and value, of Labor Day.
Learn about the history of Labor Day by going to the United States Department of Labor.
Print some Labor Day coloring pages for younger ones to help reinforce the idea of the holiday.
Have the kids play an online game like this one that includes vocabulary associated with Labor Day.
Last Minute Labor Day Party
If you have found yourself with Labor Day here, and no plans for a grand neighborhood barbeque, you can still whip up some end of summer fun with a last minute party. Don’t worry – this one doesn’t involve you inviting hoards of people to your home and backyard. Instead, plan a party that doesn’t require a lot of effort (for anyone).
- Pick a local park, hiking trail, or nature center, and invite friends and family to meet for a hike or to play some outdoor games.
- Encourage everyone to either bring their own picnic lunch, or go potluck style (and everyone brings their own picnic-ware).
This Monday my family will be meeting with a dear friend we haven’t seen in years to have a group hike and picnic. No fancy pre-planning involved, but we are looking forward to a wonderful way to cap off our holiday weekend.
Honor the Workers
I’m all about teaching my kids the deeper meaning, and Labor Day is a great time to do something a little extra that is rewarding and memorable (as well as a teaching moment). Take stock of your community and some of the “unsung heroes” who work to make your neighborhoods or town a better place to live (but who rarely get recognition for it). These might be those who assist the elderly or disabled, the firefighters down the block, or the teachers who are getting ready to head back to the classrooms. Work with your kids to find a way to honor these individuals on Labor Day.
- Make patriotic decorations with your kids and deliver them to a nursing home for the employees to brighten their offices (people in the healthcare industry don’t get a 3 day weekend).
- Help your kids make cupcakes and deliver them to the fire station (again – safety workers don’t get holidays off of work).
- Work with your kids to make care packages for new teachers in your school area. These can include a healthy breakfast bar item, some fun pencils and pens, small bottles of bubble bath or hand sanitizer, and notes of thanks for all of their hard work they are about to do.
If your city doesn’t have an official Labor Day parade, let your kids come up with their own and invite their friends to participate. Encourage all of the kids to dress up as different professions – doctors, teachers, mailmen, construction workers, etc., and have them parade down the sidewalk. The kids can invite neighbors to come out and watch at a given time, and can even play their own music, decorate their bikes and wagons, or roller blade down the row.
Yes – I know that sounds about as lame and boring as I thought it was when I was a child. I really wanted to be at the lake with my friends that Monday decades ago. But my parents knew I was starting school the next day and should probably hang out at home a little more and get ready. They also knew that putting in a few hours working around the house would not only benefit our family, but teach me a lesson that has stuck with me all of these years. We want to take 3-day vacations and run with them like they are prized doses of fun in a bottle. But if we forget their original intentions, we aren’t doing our kids any favors in the long run.
Work together as a family on Labor Day – and top off the day with a special meal, dessert at the ice cream parlor down the road, or an outdoor movie with the neighbors. Your kids might moan and groan through the labor part of it, but you will teach them lasting lessons in the process, and you can still have a little fun on the last hurrah of summer.