Summertime and the livin’s easy. Except if you’ve got toddlers or school-aged children and find yourself on the receiving end of the “I’m so bored” statement. Because you’re not a one-person-activity-factory (and I imagine this isn’t the kind of thing you do all the time) I’ve pulled together some of the best ideas for summer activities you can do at home and around town that will keep your kiddos entertained, enrich their little minds on their summer break, and empower you to have the best summer yet.
I’ve also got a way for you to track all of these awesome ideas without having to print anything (It’s Trello and I’ve organized everything you need in that bad boy for you. Don’t worry, if you have no idea what Trello is I’ve got you, boo)
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Table of Contents
But before we get into that I want to caution you against one most important thing: over programming your kid.
I said it.
We all know that mom who has their child in ten different after school activities for enrichment, education, and sports.
Maybe it’s you.
No judgment momma, I know you’re just wanting to do the best for your kiddo but sometimes the best is a break.
Science and mounting evidence proves this.
Give it a Rest, Before You Schedule Summer Activities
When I was a TV producer I used to work 10 - 12 hours a day, for 4 - 6 months at a time, and depending on the show, usually work one or both days on the weekend either dealing with emails or if I was on location, working out that week’s shoot schedule.
In other words, I didn’t get many breaks.
After every single show, I’d be lucky to have a week or so to decompress. And I needed it.
My husband called it my “cocoon” time, where I’d wrap myself in blankets and binge the new hot Netflix show or the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and basically not leave the couch for days.
My brain needed to not have to make decisions or be creative. Seriously, I wouldn’t even make decisions on what to eat!
Your kids need some cocoon time.
Your kids have been going full speed ahead for months, and likely with the recent end of the year test schedules, or final projects, are completely and totally burnt out.
Please don’t schedule something every single day for that first week after school lets out.
Let them sleep. Let them watch TV. Let them play on the iPad and run around the back yard or ride bikes with their friends.
Let them not do anything.
Usually, they’ll feel rested within a day or two and be ready for some structure again.
On the other hand, if they’re begging you to do something, honor that. Trust them to know their body and what they want.
Start programming the majority of activities for a week or two after a break has begun.
You Will Only Spend 18 Summers With Your Child
While I don’t want to get down on a low note, I do feel compelled to point out something my friend Mary Beth over at Lifestyle for Real Life mentioned to me that stuck with me.
You will only have 18 summers with your kids.
18 summers where they live at home and fully depend on you.
Sure, they may return after college, or they may even come and live with you at some point, but the lazy summer daze feeling of that break off of school will only be for a relatively short amount of time.
As a DGAF mom, spending quality time with my kids making memories and building connections is something I give a lot of fucks about.
I was lucky that the first full summer I had with my boys happened when I was on maternity leave after my second baby was born (he’s a May baby). Prior to that, I’d worked every summer. Even the one that my first was born (He’s an August baby).
I couldn’t remember having a summer off in years.
Yes, it was hot.
Yes, I was newly postpartum.
But the feeling in the air, the colors of the sky, and the activities we did with my oldest solidified for me that if I can find a way to be home during the Summers or at least for part of it I’m gonna do it.
Which is part of why I write this blog.
And freelance write from home.
Summers will do that to you.
Anyway, I did the math and as it turns out, this is the last summer my oldest son has before starting elementary school.
This is the last summer that he and his little brother will be at the same daycare and share the same playground and same play spaces for the majority of the weekdays.
I’m planning on kicking ass in the productivity department so that I can maximize my summer time with my babies.
Which is why I’ve compiled this list.
The Science Behind Taking Breaks
Mounting research has shown time and again that the more frequent and intentional you can be about the types of breaks you take, the better your productivity, creativity, and general mental health becomes.
There’s a reason that Jack Nicholson’s character from the horror film “The Shining” turned nutso and started writing the phrase “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy” over and over again.
I know you want to get to the activities ideas but SLOW DOWN!
Let’s be intentional about this.
I imagine every summer you frantically look through Pinterest or Facebook to find ideas for what to do with your kids and start strong.
A camp out under the stars, strong.
A museum the first few weeks, strong.
And then it fizzles.
Don’t be that mom this year.
Let’s get the right mindset about summer activities before we just JUMP ALL THE WAY IN.
Breaks are Important. Boredom is Also Important
You are standing at the precipice of a monster opportunity here, dear reader.
Where you can offer your child an insanely glorious gift: The gift of boredom.
Boredom elicits creativity.
Boredom allows for out of the box thinking.
Boredom wakes your kiddos out of the post-school haze and introduces them to their true selves.
According to this article from a study featured by Deakin University,
“Multiple experiments researching the evolutionary purpose of boredom has validated an interesting theory – people who are bored think more creatively than those who aren’t. So, does boredom fuel imagination?
‘It might. It could be a powerful motivator to seek more mental stimulation,’ Prof. Enticott muses.
Take a bored child, for example. Given nothing to do, they’ll most likely concoct a wacky game or fictitious story to entertain themselves.
‘Certainly, some people get bored easier than others, and psychologists have devised ways to measure this. One influential theory is that boredom reflects a failure to engage with our environment.
This could promote behavior that leads to better attention toward a task, or even toward our own mental processes,’ he continues.”
Let your kids be bored out of their minds this summer.
In fact, schedule an intentional time to do it.
I call this “Boredom Time” and it means:
no TV, no iPad or video games and no planned activities, but my kids can play with whatever they want.
If your kids are used to being over-programmed this may be either a hard adjustment or a welcomed one.
Be patient as your kids work through the discomfort of feeling OH MY GOD I’M SO BORED.
Once you’ve accomplished some intentional boredom let’s get into the intentional activity planning.
How Do You Keep Track of Your Summer Activities?
Do you pin everything to a Pinterest board?
If so, make sure to add the below pin to yours so you can reference back to this post.
Trello is a project management system that helps me stay organized in nearly every facet of my life.
Trello is a combination digital bulletin board, note and list keeper, and all around beautiful piece of ABSOLUTELY FREE software that you can bend and mold to your will so you can feel organized and on top of your shit.
Because we’re planning on doing some shit this summer I’ve organized the days by “Themes.”
You can get access to my free Trello Summer Activities Board below.
Not interested in trying new technology?
Pin this post, bookmark it, whatever.
Although once you see how easy Trello is for beginners you may want to check it out (and if you’re already using Pinterest it’s kind of similar in some ways).
Sign Up to Get My Trello Summer Activities Download
Below is my how-to on how use Trello to organize your summer activities. This is kind of a gateway video because once you start to see the potential of Trello you may never use any other organization system again.
Use Themes to Organize and Plan Your Summer Activities
As a DGAF Mom, I’m all about picking and choosing the fucks I need to give so that I can make my life easier as a parent. Not harder.
Themes for the days of the week makes this easier.
Even more so?
Preparing ahead of time almost always makes this easier.
Head to the craft store. Invest in some essentials: paint, markers and crayons, chalk, and different types of papers. Glue and glue sticks. (I’m willing to bet you’ve got most of this already!)
Look up the local summer activities schedules for your town and mark them on your calendar (or use a Trello Power Up to integrate a calendar with Google).
Here are the themes I’ve decided to use.
Other bloggers have other spins on this but I’m not other bloggers.
DGAF Mom Themes
Make It Monday - Make it, mold it, Arts and Crafts, Play Doh, and everything in between. Ideas for what to Make Go here
Adventure Tuesday - Do some quick research to find out any local summer activities near you.
Water Play Wednesday - Anything that has to do with water, including backyard sprinklers, pool day, local splash pads, and my list of the best water play ideas.
Thrifty Thursday - Dollar store hacks, get creative with things you have at home (like building a cardboard box dinosaur?)
Foodie Friday - Get creative in the kitchen. Make new recipes, teach your kids to cook, bake cookies together, and check out new restaurants or food trucks.
Ideas for Inside Activities This Summer
52 + indoor activities to do with kids: https://abrazoandcoze.com/indoor-activities-with-kids/
Make Card Board Box Dinosaurs out of Recycled Materials and house hold Items
Outside Summer Activities to Try:
Make It Monday Ideas for Summer Activities Indoor (or Outdoor)!
Arts and crafts play-doh, painting, anything that allows your children to expand their creativity.
Here are some ideas and links to other blogs for what to do for Make-It-Monday Summer Activities ideas:
Have an Adventure Tuesday this Summer
This can be a bit of a catch-all, but typically this requires leaving your house: Heading to a museum, a story time at the library, or a local walk around the park to do a “nature walk” where the idea is to “teach your kids” or have them “teach you” about the interesting things they see and learn on their adventure.
Check out local summer activities near you for ideas of what to do with your kids.
Water Play Wednesday Summer Activity Ideas
Water play games, water table games, local splash pad details, heading to a community pool if you have one or just dedicated time in your pool if you’re lucky to have one in your back yard.
Gather all the best Water Play ideas into this calendar/day and go:)
Water Play Ideas - Toddlers/Little Kids
Tupperware Box or water table filled with water, dinosaurs, and cars. (My boys Love this) - Add cups such as these (link to baby stacking cups) for endless water play fun.
Wash the car (Kids love helping with soapy sponges and water buckets!)
Skip Rocks at the Lake or Pond
Local Splash Pad Fun
Go to the Community Pool
Go to the Beach
Play in the sprinklers
Fill up a Cheap plastic pool with water and have the kids use garden shovels to turn it into a mud paradise (and make mud pies!)
Thrifty Thursday Ideas for Summer Activities
Dollar Store hacks, Thrift store shopping for “costumes” to put on shows, Target Dollar spot hacks, and repurposing old things in your house into new things.
So for example: go digging in the garage to discover kites that haven’t been played with for years and take them flying. The idea is to get creative with your environment and help your children realize what they already have that can be entertaining
Make a slip and slide in your yard with a large piece of plastic, a hose, and some dish soap.
Have a picnic
Make a scavenger hunt for your kids
Go to the park
Draw with sidewalk chalk
Have a lemonade stand and make some money
Play a game of soccer/football/baseball/ultimate frisbee
Collect bugs with this little bug collector
Go bike riding
Hold a yard sale
Feed the ducks
Read books outside in a hammock or a treehouse (we love this one)
Pick strawberries/raspberries/blueberries (Find a local Farm that Allows This)
Make an obstacle course in your yard
Foodie Friday Summer Activities
If you’re lucky to have a farmer’s market on Fridays that should be your first activity planned for this kind of day!
Otherwise, hunt down food trucks, go shopping somewhere like Whole Foods where your children can pick out exotic fruits and veggies they’ve never seen before (and have them help you cook them or prepare them for a snack).
Watch fun cooking shows like Master Chef Jr. (and use this cook book) to inspire your future chefs.
Make your Own Pizza lunches or dinners, and my favorite thing to do on this day, if it’s not too hot, is to eat dinner outside as a family (bonus tip: Have your kids help you set the table and bring out all the food).
Pick out vegetable at store/farmer's market - look up recipe and cook it together
Summer Activities for Kids
So what’s it gonna be? What will you be doing this summer with your kids? Make sure to check out my Trello Board to organize all of your summer activities with your kids, and let me know in the comments below if you have any other ideas for fun things!
Other Posts from the DGAF Mom
The Only Easy Meal Planner Template You’ll Ever Need
Do me a favor, if this helped you, help me? You can pin the below image to Pinterest to save it for later OR just pin it to help a momma out and let other moms know about this valuable list of summer activities for kids.