Summer break is a hop, skip, and a flip-flop away and we (admittedly tuckered out) parents now have to wrap our heads around the new title of “social activity directors” for the next three months. After a year of phasing out of virtual school and Zoom playdates, my top priority is to keep technology from becoming my summer sitter. So I need a list of things to do with kids when bored, stat!
If hindsight has taught me anything, it’s that my kids start off their summer school hiatus on a very high and bright note. At first, it’s bike rides, backyard frolics, barely breaking to shove a bite of lunch into their mouths before splashing back into the pool. I smooch their sun-kissed heads as they climb into bed, only to hear them happily giggling into the night with their siblings. That cohesive cacophony lasts about a week.
Then the sounds of boredom begin to bounce off every wall of the house. Toss in some whimper whining and a bit of bickering, plus the sing-song tattletale sound of “moOOmmmm!” and it’s all I can do to not lock myself in the pantry.
This year, preparation will be my sanity. Pulling together a list of activities that will keep the kids occupied, motivated, well-rounded and grounded will help keep the good vibes flowing and make for a balanced summer to remember for the whole family.
Keep reading to discover the 29 ways I’m keeping boredom at bay, then tell us in the comments… how do you keep your kids entertained when they’re home?
1. Family yoga. Invest in yoga mats for the whole family, spread them out in the grass, and encourage each other to bond, move and connect.
2. Dance party. Pump up your Bluetooth speaker and take turns picking songs to rock out to together. Have the kids come up with fun dance routines to then show the whole family at the end of the day. It’s also a great way for adults to shake up their day when working from home.
3. Slip and slide the day away. When the dog days of summer are upon us and there isn’t a pool in sight—your kids will love a slip-n-slide for splashy, cool fun. Don’t have a slip n slide on hand and no time to run to the store? Encourage your kids to make their own water park using the hose and some tarp.
4. DIY an at-home parkour course. Grab stepping stones (either purchased or from the backyard), boulders, logs, and sturdy furniture to create your own family obstacle course. Activities such as jumping, climbing, and balancing boost confidence and flexibility. Don’t have everything they’ll need right in your own yard? Consider opting for this kit, instead.
5. Make a fort or yard campsite. Ideal for indoor or outdoor fun, break into the linen closet and create an elaborate fort using blankets, sheets, and pillows. Extra points for flashlights and storytelling inside.
6. Take a trip without leaving the house. Inspire kids to think outside our borders by picking a country out of the acclaimed children’s book, Around the World with Mouk: A Trail of Adventure. Motivate them to learn about their chosen country’s culture, language, currency, and even food.
7. Make magic. Invest in a few magician’s supplies now, and by the end of this summer, they just may be pulling a quarter out of your ears.
8. Host a puppet show. With just a few household items (clean socks, paper, scissors, and glue) you can make your own sock puppets and then host a puppet show at home.
Something for Others
9. Book exchange. Encourage your kids to start a neighborhood book exchange. It will keep the kids engaged with one another and keep their reading skills from getting dusty.
10. Write a letter. Take a trip to the post office and allow them to pick out their own set of stamps. Then encourage them to mail out actual hand-written letters to help brighten a family or friend’s day.
11. Set up a lemonade stand. Get all the fixings for refreshing lemonade (either store-bought or homemade). Afterward, donate the proceeds to a local charity of your child’s choice.
12. Whip up lunch for a neighbor. Consider allowing the kids to make brown bag lunches for neighbors using food from your pantry. Nothing fancy. Think sammies, chips, and maybe some homemade brownies (we’re partial to these).
13. Handmade drawings for senior citizens. Especially now, loneliness is happening in quiet corners. Encourage your kids to draw or assemble an art piece for a nearby assisted living facility, drop it off safely and with masks on, and brighten someone’s day.
14. Make vision boards. Have a future teacher, engineer, or fashion designer on your hands? Allow the kids to rummage through magazines and catalogs and create a collage incorporating all their hopes and dreams for their future selves, whether it’s a month, year, or a decade down the road.
15. Tie-dye time. Grab some old tees and go to town with tie-dye.
16. Make a no-sew blanket. Here are the easy steps to making cozy, fleece blankets.
17. Get creative with butcher paper. Take turns tracing each other on white butcher paper, color and cut them out and tape to the windows.
18. Sharpen your origami skills. Add the works of art to the family dinner table for place settings to be proud of.
19. Press your own flowers. Grab a book, something heavy to place on top, paper, and an array of flowers and leaves… and voila! Your kids will have all they’ll need to make gorgeous pressed flowers at home.
20. Host a bake-off. Are your kids as obsessed with Nailed It as mine? Recreate the show in your very own kitchen. Mom Tip: The Milk Bar: Kids Only cookbook teaches older children to bake delicious goodies in an easy-to-follow format without the help of mom and dad.
23. Hometown food tour. Load up in the car and make a day of seeing the sights that you never have time to do, focusing on a different part of town or park each time. Take note of tasty ice cream and local snack stops along the way and at the end of summer, you’ll have a master list.
24. Learn to make ice cream. Not only does it lead to a delicious treat, but the old-school churning process will also tire kids out.
25. Wash the car. That’s right. Grab an old, ratty bathing suit, break out the hose and go to town scrubbing down the cars. Make it a splash fest and you’ll keep cool while getting the cars squeaky clean.
26. Tidy up. I know, I know, but try making it fun. A little ‘whistling while they work’ can make all the difference. Turn up the tunes, gather up clothes and toys they no longer use, put items in their correct storage bins and cubbies, and encourage them to make room in their personal spaces so that creativity can thrive!
27. Neighborhood trash patrol. Put on some gloves, grab some kitchen trash bags for garbage collection, and hit the streets. Parents, you’ll need to be present for this one, unless your kids are older.
28. Plant a garden. Round up gardening gloves, shovels, herbs, and seeds of your choice and go to town in the backyard. Here’s how to start.
29. Plan and prep a meal together. Allow your kids to sift through a cookbook and decide on a meal. Then have them order the ingredients either via Amazon Prime or Instacart, allowing the kids to handle every step of the process. Lastly, when the groceries arrive, they’ll unload, prep, and cook a meal. Added bonus: they’ll never take a home-cooked dinner for granted again.