Summer vacation is here.
Ahh summer, when the temperature is up, school’s out (even for us homeschoolers) and the kids are… underfoot. Sometimes, annoyingly so. What kinds of kids summer activities can we do? We can’t spend every day at the beach or at the park, and I can’t be my kids’ sole source of entertainment. Nor do I want them sitting in front of the TV or playing video games all summer.
So what’s a busy mom to do?
With a little bit of prep, a little creativity, and the right tools, your kids and mine can be kept occupied, safe, and even still learning, all summer long. And it doesn’t even have to cost a lot of money.
1. Break out the recyclables.
Seriously, all those plastic bottles, tin cans and newspapers are the foundation of kid-creativity inspiration. Break out the paints, the scissors and glue, and (dare I say..) the glitter. Spread it out on the picnic table or patio table outside. And let them go crazy!
You can use a cheap table cloth to protect your furniture, but that’s why we’re doing this kind of thing outside. It’s easy to clean up the paint spots and glitter with a quick spray of the hose. Even the kids can put on their swim suits and craft then wash off outside, before coming back inside.
Crafting outside means that their creations will dry faster too. And all the leftover bits and pieces can be easily raked up and shoved back into your recycling bins. Meaning your house stays clean and glitter-free.
2. Bring out the water.
It’s summer right? So time for water play of all kinds. Try squirt guns, or a hose nozzle. Grab the sprinkler. Or maybe an old-fashioned water balloon fight? If you’ve got younger children (or don’t want to pick up the broken balloon pieces later), you can try wet sponges instead.
You could also fill up a storage tote (empty the clothes first!!) with water, and let them play with paper boats or their bath toys — outside or inside! To do this inside, just spread out the towels first, and you’ve got instant water fun.
And if you don’t want the water all over, just let your kids into the bath. A bath in the middle of the day (maybe even with their swim suits on?) will occupy them for a while. For a change, try running the shower, and letting them go in and out. Worst case scenerio? You’ll end up mopping your floors, and if they’re anything like mine, they needed it anyway!
3. Bake with a book.
Summer days are great for spending time outside. Why not spend it outside with a book?
Create a book nook under a shady tree or beach umbrella, by laying down blankets and bringing out pillows. Have your kids bring out their favorite books, or maybe take a quick trip to the library. Then they can all curl up with a well-loved story or go on a new adventure with a new book.
For a twist, try headphones and an audio book. Even the youngest can enjoy audio books with books on CD and a portable CD player. Then everyone can enjoy the sunshine and hot summer days without having to run around in the heat.
Just don’t forget the sunscreen!!
4. Bubble up some fun.
Honestly, there’s not much more fun than bubbles. And you don’t need to buy the bubble mix from the store (though it’s pretty cheap!), just grab some dishsoap and water, and you’ve got instant bubble solution.
Experiment with different bubble-making devices, such as an old wire coat hanger, a bottle cap with a hole in it, or a cookie cutter. Challenge your older kids to see if they can make a square bubble!
When they get tired of bubbles, try some other old-fashioned simple outdoor toys. Colored chalk on the sidewalk can challenge the imagination, and even be the basis of a few simple games. Remember 4 square, hopscotch, or making chalk mazes? You could also give them skipping ropes or a bouncy ball. Simple uncomplicated toys can be almost more fun than the high-definition video games.
5. Bug them to help out.
Bored kids, in my home, mean chores. So if nothing else is sparking their imagination, it’s time to put them to work. There’s always something they can do to help out, and knowing that’s the result will give them extra motivation to find something else to do before you do.
So what kinds of chores? Well, even the youngest kid can wash a window. What else needs washing? Your car? The trash cans, the recycling bins, the patio table and chairs, the front steps, the railings… Gardens need weeding, lawns need raking (or mowing, if your kids are old enough), and walkways need sweeping.
There’s always something to do in summer.
Everyone needs downtime, and summer is a great time to relax. But if the kids are getting whiny or irritating, you may need to step in and give them something to do. It doesn’t have to require a lot of effort or expense on your part either!
Just don’t forget the sunscreen.