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 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. Other years, we found ourselves laying around watching TV and me feeling like a horrible mom. So where is the balance? How do you know how much to fit into their very busy days?
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 at least one day every week to stay home, get chores and laundry done, mow the lawn, pull weeds, and most so they have time to relax a little 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. The rest of the days are open to unlimited activities. I like to coordinate with friends and family to plan fun activities together.
You don’t really have to spend a ton of money on your kids for them to have fun. Mix it up. Most of these take a small amount of planning. Here are a few suggestions we’ve tried.
- Go to a local park. Try a different park every week! Each playground is unique. Play a Park Scavenger Hunt.
- Take a bike ride.
- Go for a walk.
- Go to a splash pad. We have a lot of options so maybe go to a different one each time.
- Play a game of Ultimate Frisbee.
- Avoid the heat. Go to the mall. Here’s a mall scavenger hunt.
- We like to go to local farms and petting zoos.
- Go to the aquarium.
- Have a craft day. My kids love Perler Beads, Paint by number, Oragami, and Diamond Painting. I’m thinking of teaching my kids to sew this year.
- 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. I was thinking she’d be great to swap for something.
- Have a STEM day. My kids love science and technology. Try these here, here, here.
- 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 up the canyon. Find an easy hike for the kids.
- Go to the lake. We got inflatable kayaks for Christmas 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 organize.
- Get out the sidewalk chalk. Have a chalk art contest or make a roadway for cars or bikes.
- Make homemade bubbles.
- Dress-up or have a fashion show.
- 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.
- Read a book together.
- Learn to Tie-dye shirts. Here’s a tutorial.
- Go swimming. There are lots of options at recreation centers.
- Make cookies or bread. 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 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?