Transform an evening at home into an adventure!
Have you ever noticed how kids will leave their expensive toys by the wayside to play inside a cardboard refrigerator box for hours on end? The lesson here for parents is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to have some good family fun.
Instead, keep the imagination high and the budget low. Sure, trips to Disneyland are great when you have the time and money, but the important thing is that you’re spending time together, enjoying the warm weather and longer days this summer. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Badminton, volleyball, croquet – these are a few backyard activities that the whole family can enjoy. For the price of a ball and net or a starter croquet set, you can turn your lawn into a sports center and get the kids excited about a little friendly competition. Urban dweller? Hit the park with your portable net instead, or show the kids how to play handball against the school wall. Remember to wear hats and sunscreen and have fun!
Outdoor Movie Night
This is a fun spectacle for kids of any age, and neighbors that might want to join in the fun (and share the projector rental cost, about $80 for the weekend.) Decide on a family friendly double feature and set up your backyard or front porch like a movie theater. Towels, blankets and lawn chairs to sit on, homemade popcorn, sodas and snacks to eat and drink and after-dark entertainment to transform an evening at home into an adventure. Treat your kids to a special night under the stars and let them stay up past their bedtimes to watch the second movie. You’ll be a hit!
Parks & Picnics
Public parks are a wonderful thing in the summer - tennis courts, baseball diamonds, jungle gyms, stretches of open field – everything you need to let your kids run wild safely. Sometimes summer days can be scorching though, so if your kids are a little older, consider going out later in the day to watch the sun set. After 4pm when the sun is on its way down, you and your family can enjoy a leisurely game of Frisbee, even pick up a pizza to enjoy as your picnic food, then save dessert for a fun reason to head home. For kids there’s something thrilling about being outside while it grows dark. Just make sure you get out of the park before complete darkness, as many parks will lock their gates!
Swimming is the absolute best summer activity available. Who doesn’t love to float around in the cool, refreshing water when temperatures are soaring? Teach your kids how to swim, tread water, do an underwater handstand and much more. If you live in a rural area and have access to a lake or swimming hole, improvise with the foliage nearby. Can you bring a stretch of rope to tie onto the branch of an overhanging tree and make a rope swing? If you live near the ocean, invest in some Styrofoam boogie boards to ride the waves with or just splash around. Build sand castles, or sand animals, or bury each other up to the neck. City dwellers can stake out the nearest public pool and find out when ‘free swim’ happens. Bring a beach ball to throw around in the shallow end. And for anyone venturing out into the surf, lake or pool, don’t forget to brush up on your CPR and always wear sunscreen!
Up in the Air
Indulge in fun outdoor stuff like kite flying or remote control airplane flying, depending on your budget. Set aside some time before you head out to read the instructions and get a handle on what you’re plan is, then hit the park, or beach or lake front, and test out your toys! If the wind is too low for the kite and your airborne toy crashes on its first flight, don’t despair. Go for ice cream!
Make a game of restaurants
Pick a silly food item that you ‘must have’, like donuts or soft ice cream or hot dogs, and make a cross town trek to try the item in a few different locations. You can rate them best to worst, and have fun exploring your neighborhood or city while you’re at it. Make your day into a local road-trip!
Whatever you decide to do on the weekends, know that your kids will take their cues from you. Don’t stress if your summer weekend plan isn’t going exactly as planned. If the weather rains on your parade, try to improvise with jigsaw puzzles or making cookies, and above all, keep up your spirits. It’s not the game that matters; it’s the quality time.