Summer is here! As a parent, it’s always exciting to think about the warm days and nights with your kids. I usually envision swimming, BBQs, and popsicles. My kids love attending our great local summer camps, but I always like to make sure there are at least three weeks of summer when they can play, relax, and be kids. Unstructured time is so rare these days, but it’s so important for kids.
The problem with this dreamy unstructured time is hearing the two words I’ve come to dread as a parent: “I’m bored.” Sometimes it’s whined with lots of extra o’s “I’m booooored!” and sometimes it’s rephrased as “There’s nothing to do.” But however they say it, there are few sentiments that I find more irritating.
To inspire other parents who may encounter the summer boredom curse, I’ve compiled 20 of my family’s favorite cures:
- Go for a hike. We like to check out different local hiking trails, and the kids often bring buckets (for nature collections) and magnifying glasses (mostly to look the part). Just don’t forget the bug spray!
- Craft projects. My kids love a good project. Unfortunately, I’m not particularly crafty, so this is where Pinterest comes in. Check out different types of collages, learn to knit together, or search outdoor painting projects.
- Baking or cooking. Make-your-own pizza night is big in our house. Last summer, we also did homemade ricotta gnocchi. We love to bake zucchini banana muffins. Anything goes!
- Go to the zoo. Walking around looking at animals is always a good way for kids to spend an afternoon.
- Create a driveway mural. Gather allllll the chalk, have the kids come up with a plan, assign tasks, and create the mural of their dreams.
- Take an evening walk. A stroll around the neighborhood after dinner when the sun is starting to set is a relaxing way to end the day. Sometimes my kids bring scooters or bikes (or popsicles).
- Bake for an elderly neighbor (or one who lives alone). Making cookies or another yummy treat is a nice reminder for kids that when we brighten someone else’s day, it makes us feel great too.
- Have a picnic. There’s something kids find so exciting about eating outside on a blanket. So pack up a meal, head to a nearby park, and they can eat/play/graze/run to their heart’s content.
- Family bike rides. When my kids both dropped their training wheels last spring, my husband and I bought our own bikes. We love finding good local trails or paths where we can all ride together.
- Make a time capsule. Have your kids record the date, their current ages and favorite things, and anything they want to remember. They can collect pictures of their favorite items or include the actual items. They can put school or sports awards/certificates, art projects, special notes to themselves. Bury it in the backyard and decide when they want to dig it up together. High school graduation?
- Hit the beach. Make a day of it. Just don’t forget all the gear!
- Plant a garden. Have your kids pick a few vegetables and fruits they might like to grow, and learn how to plant and care for your garden.
- 1,000-piece puzzle. Find a big, awesome puzzle, and work on it together a little each day until you finish. Then you can glue it together and frame it.
- Tie-Dye. Set up a tie-dye station in the yard and make some cool T-shirts, shorts, socks – anything!
- Family challenges. One weekend, have your kids help you come up with a set of challenges that everyone can compete in. Highest card tower? Best sandcastle? Maybe the winner gets to choose the flick for the night.
- Movie Night. Pop some popcorn, snuggle up on the couch, and remember – no phones allowed!
- Water balloon fight. Parent participation optional but encouraged.
- Game night. Everyone chooses one or two board games after dinner.
- Yoga. Cosmic Kids Yoga is great, and once they get the gist, you can all take turns being the yoga teacher and leading the class. This is even more fun outside.
- Slime. Make it, play with it, keep it outdoors and wear old clothes. Somehow the mess is often worth it for the amount of time it keeps them occupied!