• Enjoy this opportunity to really "be there" with your kids. It's easy to zone out on children's chatter as we rush through our daily to-do list. Now is the perfect time to reestablish meaningful communication. Inquire about your daughter's newest best friend, discover why your son "hates" math, and find out why they both want to be professional snowboarders when they grow up.
• Make up your own fun, and yes, even educational (don't tell the kids!) picnic games. Acquaint older children with their environment by having a nature treasure hunt. Write ten things that can be found in a park on index cards and drop them in the picnic basket. Each child draws five cards and then has thirty minutes to gather all items. Remember to make the items sufficiently challenging. The longer it takes to find treasure, the more time you have to soak in the sun!
• Don't forget poor dad, who may be stuck in a meeting. Have the kids create a masterpiece for his office. By bringing a few sheets of paper, and a small bottle of Elmer's glue, the children can make a collage out of summer leaves and acorn shells.
From menu planning to activities, your kids can be full participants in the picnic extravaganza. By respecting your children's input, and taking the time to tune in to their lives, a three hour picnic can go a long way towards revitalizing the family bond.