It seems like I see two types of families during the Summer break. The ones that cram their breaks with vacations, activities, and camps-so many that the kids have no down-time. Or the families that are so bored with nothing to do or just want to play on electronics the entire day. What kind of family are you? How busy is your family during those summer days? Are the kids too busy or not busy enough?
I fear my family has fallen into both categories. At the end of one fun-filled summer, my kids said, “Mom could we have a week where we just stayed home and did nothing?” We had been to some pretty cool places that year, but it was apparently too much for them. Other years, we found ourselves laying around watching TV or playing on their phones and me feeling like a horrible mom. So where is the balance? How do you know how much to fit into their Summer days?
Tips for planning fun Summer activities.
I have found that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Creating a schedule really helps us enjoy the Summer fully. It is especially important now that my kids are older and working various jobs and involved in High school athletics. Start with a basic monthly calendar for the Summer. Pencil in family trips, camps, and any other known events. Then I start with our most interested activities and tentatively pick the best days for those. My husband has limited days off so we need to be strategic with what days he needs to take off. Also, if cost is a factor, planning ahead can save you money and you can also plan activities that will be inexpensive but still fun. Fun doesn’t have to cost money!
Try to find balance in the activities that your kids do. Daily activities are planned on a weekly basis. If we don’t already have a vacation scheduled, I try to plan all 5 days in the week. Weekends are usually spent as a family so we plan those together. I really feel like the kids need 1-2 days every week to stay home, get chores and laundry done, mow the lawn, pull weeds, and have some time to relax a little, do their own thing, and read a book or have some “down time”. I do like to plan to take the kids somewhere fun at least once a week to get them out of the house. My kids loved when we would invite family or friends along for some fun. You can coordinate ahead of time with friends and family to plan fun activities together.
Try to mix up the activities you do with your kids this Summer. Most of these take a small amount of planning. One way I have seen is for a 5 day week, plan one day that is chores/staying home, one day is play with someone or invite someone over, another day is an outdoor activity, one with inside activities like crafts or games, one that gets the kids out of the house, and the last one could be a park or hike. Our weeks vary so much over the Summer, that I make a list with my husband of all the things we want to do together…camping, hiking (which we are trying to go on one hike every week), kayaking, etc. Tonight is a family picnic at a new park nearby. We do have a 2 hour electronics limit per day so they have to do other activities.
- Go to a local park. Try a different park every week! Each playground is unique. Play a Park Scavenger Hunt.
- Take a bike ride. We like to ride to a park or somewhere fun.
- Go for a walk. Once we walked to the grocery store to get donuts. You could walk to 7-11 to get a Slurpee. We’ve walked to different parks in the neighborhood. My son likes to play catch with a football while we walk.
- Create a puppet show…they can make the puppets first then create a show.
- Go to a splash pad. We have a lot of options so maybe go to a different one each time.
- We like to meet my husband for lunch at a park near his work.
- Play a game of Ultimate Frisbee. We tried this for the first time this Spring and my kids really loved it.
- Play Frisbee golf. We have some courses that are free in the mountains and at a few parks.
- Want to avoid the heat. Go to the mall. Here’s a mall scavenger hunt.
- We like to go to local farms and petting zoos.
- Take a hike. My kids love looking for wildlife. We have found all kinds of tracks, scat, and homes. Our favorite though is when we find a moose!
- Go to the aquarium or zoo.
- Have a craft day. My kids love Perler Beads, Paint by number, Oragami, and Diamond Painting. You could teach your kids to sew or crochet this year.
- Go fishing. My kids all know how to fish so I can sit in my chair and read a book. It is a lot of fun!
- Swap skills with a neighbor and your kids can learn some great skills. One Summer, my neighbor taught my girls how to make pies. And on another day, I taught them to make jewelry. It was a great swap. I have a neighbor that can make the cutest crocheted items. What secret skills do you or your neighbor have?
- Have a STEM day. My kids love science and technology. Try these examples here, here, here. Just search STEM activities for kids…you will find tons!
- Invite neighbors over and have a water party. You don’t even need a pool for this. We have a small one from the grocery store that my kids still like to play with. Any type of water activities will do. Turn on the sprinklers, get a slip and slide, water guns, water balloons or water balloon games, fill up large balloons, spray bottles, add a sprinkler on the tramp. One year we made these super fun milk jugs to catch water balloons. Water balloon volleyball.
- Play the Wii, PlayStation, X-box TOGETHER.
- Have a Lego Challenge. We have a big bin of Legos. See what they can create! Or make Lego spiders or a Lego marble run.
- Play board games. Some of our favorites are Wacky 6, Skipbo, Sequence, and Rummikub.
- Go to the lake. We got inflatable kayaks for Christmas a few years ago and have loved using them.
- Visit a museum.
- Do service together. I like to take my kids to help my parents.
- Have a service project at home. Deep clean things. Dust. Clean ovens or showers or windows.
- Get out the sidewalk chalk. Have a chalk art contest or make a roadway for cars or bikes.
- Make homemade bubbles.
- Sort through their rooms/clothes. I make my kids try on all of their clothes and get rid of any that no longer fit. Then we know what to buy. Here’s my post on sorting their clothes.
- Dress-up or have a fashion show. I used to buy Halloween costumes (like the Hulk muscles) on clearance of get fancy dresses/shoes at thrift stores. All the kids enjoy dressing up!
- Do a puzzle and watch a movie.
- Have your kids earn money.
- Go to the library. Check the events at the library. There are lots of fun activities that they host throughout the Summer.
- Play dates never get old. Invite some friends over and play games inside or out.
- Read a book together.
- Water, water, water! There are so many fun activities to do with a hose. Water balloons are always a hit, our little kiddie pool, sponges to get wet and throw, etc. My kids loved any type of water game. Even just filling up a spray bottle can be exciting!
- Learn to Tie-dye shirts. Here’s a tutorial.
- Go swimming. There are lots of options at recreation centers or lakes nearby.
- Make cookies or bread together. Take them to a neighbor.
Planning doesn’t really take long, but it makes such a difference in what you do with your kids. I’m still working on finding that balance of planning some events, but leaving unstructured time for the kids to create and explore and even just be lazy once in awhile. Try some of these ideas out and let me know what you think! Is there anything not on the list that you like to do? I’m always looking for new ideas!