No matter where you spend your summer, the joys of summer are simple to create. It’s the lack of schedule, the carefree days, and the slow mornings that make anything possible. It’s taking a break from all the busyness to explore outdoors.
Most of us can’t just simply quit our jobs and sit around all day, but think about how different your quality of life would be if you made time throughout the day to do nothing and just have fun? Imagine having a day where you’re not bound to a hectic schedule of running from work and things to do, activity to activity. The summer is the best season to take a break from all the busyness to have fun and enjoy your kids’ free time.
Here’s a collection of ideas designed to keep your summer slow, fun, and meaningful:
“Forget” to check your phone. Leave the emails for tomorrow and be present with your children. This day is not just for your kids – it’s for you, too.
Don’t fill your day.
Not everything needs to be scheduled. Leave some time to enjoy nothing. You can do something spontaneous, like catching the sunset, looking at the stars, cuddling with your kids, and simply unwind while doing absolutely nothing.
One reason time goes slower for kids is that everything is new. Their brains are processing new information, and all that activity keeps time from sliding by. Enjoy a new adventure with them. It can be as simple as trying a new place for lunch, having a road trip, watching squirrels and birds at the park, or climbing a big, knobby tree your kids have been eyeing can feel like a grand adventure. Of course, you can always go for something bigger, like an adventurous trip.
Limit screen time.
Limiting screen time opens the door for more time spent outdoors or being focused on an activity. It’s not good to slow down a summer day by mindless scrolling or playing games on their gadgets.
Going outside is one of the best ways to enjoy a slow summer. When you’re stuck indoors, the kids (and probably you) will only be tempted to watch YouTube, play games on the computer, play games on their phone – the usual stuff. But when you go out, there would be so many things to see and do and enjoy the fresh air to fill your lungs.
Take advantage of the warm, sunny day by exploring the natural world. (By the way, don’t forget to put on sunscreen!) Here are the things you can do with your kids to enjoy the outdoors:
- Go bird watching. Go to the nearest park or a wildlife center where you can watch birds. Take photos and keep track of the birds you see.
- Climb trees. Do this only if the kids are big enough and if you’re brave enough.
- Fly a kite. Buy a kit or make your own. Spend a few hours flying it in an open field.
- Grow herbs and plants. Use plastic cups, old coffee cans, milk cans, mason jars, or anything you have in the house. Put them at a space in your garden where your kids can take care of them.
- Look for shapes in clouds. Put a blanket in the grass and just stare together at the sky.
- Go picking. Find a farm with berries, fruits, or veggies where you can pick fresh produce from the source.
- Go fishing. Bring your kids on a fishing trip by the lake. In many states, children can be allowed to drop a line even without a license.
- Make a butterfly or hummingbird garden. Create your own wildlife habitat in your backyard.
- Set up a bird feeder. Build or buy a bird feeder and watch birds visit your yard.
- Have a picnic. Set up a red gingham blanket in your yard, load up your picnic basket, and have some snacks outdoors while you’re on the ground. It will be more fun if someone loads up the barbeque and grill along, too.
- Go camping. Whether at a campsite or simply in your backyard, going camping is fun for the whole family. Set up your tent and enjoy being outdoors.
- Have a water balloon fight. Get wet in your yard and have fun in your yard by having a water balloon fight.
- Build an obstacle course in your backyard. Pretend to be America Ninja Warriors and see how quickly each one can get through the course.
- Bike for fun. You can either leave from your own house or drive to biking trails.
- Play in the yard. Play tag, Frisbee, kickball, bocce ball, croquet, miniature golf, and other outdoor games with your kids. Set up a net and have family badminton or volleyball tournament. You can even create your own summer Olympics and make it a tradition.
- Go hiking. If your kids are a bit older, take a hike as a family. Choose a route near the house, or drive to a more distant park.
- Go canoeing. Look out for a local park that offers canoe rentals and spend some time in the water.
- Go to the beach. Sometimes, there’s no more fun adventure than a classic trip to the beach. Bathe under the sun, build sandcastles, and take lots of photos!
- Set up a bonfire. At night, you can roast hotdogs and marshmallows. Make s’mores, and sing campfire songs together.
Have some fun indoors.
If the weather keeps you indoors, there’s still so much fun you can do, especially with kids! Here are some ideas:
- Build a fort. Use cardboard boxes to build a castle in the living room, or use pillows and sheets to build a fort.
- Experiment with new hairstyles. Let your kids have fun and try out something new with their hair. Try out non-permanent colors, braids, new hair clips, or a spiked and gelled look.
- Paint your nails. If you have daughters, let them try painting each other’s nails.
- Play a card game. Choose from spoons, go fish, crazy eights, or even poker.
- Play a board game. There are lots of board games to choose from – choose what your family might enjoy. If you happen to love a board game, this will mean hours of fun!
- Play charades. Teach kids how to express themselves without words by this classic, fun game!
- Camp in. Put some sleeping bags on the floor, or bring the mattresses to the living room and have a family slumber party.
- Try out some arts and crafts. Choose the activity you and your kids would enjoy – painting on a canvas, coloring, finger painting, mural painting, stringing beads, playing with clay, painting rocks, making your own frame, etc.
Get busy in the kitchen.
Because the schedule during summer is slower, let the kids take on some cooking projects. Make it an opportunity for them to learn an important life skill that will be useful for them when they turn older.
Here are the things you can do with your kids in your kitchen:
- Make and bake your own pizzas. Let everyone make their personal pizzas. Kids enjoy picking their own toppings. They can help prep by washing mushrooms, shredding cheese, chopping veggies, and so on. If you’re making the dough from scratch, let the kids help in mixing and shaping the dough.
- Bake cookies. Baking is fun (and also messy) when done with kids. You can bake any kind of cookies, but the most fun would be sugar cookies that kids decorate themselves.
- Make ice cream. Using recipes you can find online, try to make homemade ice cream with your kids. Warning: they would probably ask you, “is it frozen yet?” every hour due to excitement, so make sure you also prepare other activities while the ice cream freezes.
- Let them cook dinner. If your kids are a little older, encourage them to plan the menu and shop for ingredients. Then, allow them to cook dinner for the family. Supervise them as needed, but let the teens go do it on their own.
Stay up late.
What’s summer without the occasionally delayed bedtime? Leave some time to snuggle up with your kids, sing songs, get silly with them, and tell them some stories from you were at their age.