Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Fun At Home

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Summer is something we all look forward to. Less structure, lessons are over, classes are over, and we can do whatever we want to. The flip side is that summer can also quickly get monotonous. We can find ourselves at the end of summer realizing we kind of just let it float by without doing anything intentional. Or maybe we reach the end and realize we were so busy trying to make summer epic that we didn't leave time for relaxing. 

When I asked you readers what you wanted to know for summer, the question came up, how do I do activities at home?

Do Not Over-Complicate
We can often over-complicate summer. Pinterest is full of the summer bucket lists and ways to have an awesome summer. Social media is full of our 700 closest friends sharing their latest epic adventure and somehow we fail to sort them out and realize that we are look at the lives of 700 different people at a time and think we need to measure up to ALL of them. We don't need to measure up to any of them. 

My friend was telling me last week about how she had wanted to go to the pool but her son said, "Can't we just stay home and fill up the pool in the backyard?" We are talking a small kiddie pool. We often get so lost in trying to make summer epic that we do more than young children even need, much less want. Children are so easily pleased and satisfied. Let's take advantage of this trait while it is there! 

I don't know what your summers were like, but mine were spent largely with the garden hose, neighborhood kids, and our imaginations. Don't feel like you need to make summer bigger than it is. It is okay for summer to be simple. 

Get A Membership Somewhere
I know I titled this Summer Fun At Home, but I have to give a shout out for the local membership/season pass. With young children, this cannot be beat. Whenever I go somewhere, I want to get my money's worth. So I set aside a day and we will spend the day there no matter how fun it is or isn't or how much the children are enjoying it. With a membership, you can go for 30 minutes and then come home if needed. A membership somewhere is a way for you to get out of the house every so often, do it for as long as works for you that day, and then come home. It helps break up any monotony from being home day in and day out. 

We have a membership at a Historical Farm that is five minutes from our home. We have stopped in on our way to the dentist. We sometimes go for several hours; we sometimes go for 30 minutes. 

Think about what interests your family. You might like a pass to the pool, zoo, water park, amusement park, museum, aquarium, or even season tickets to your favorite sports team. 

Have a Balance of Free Time and Structured Time
As you plan your activities, have a balance in your schedule of free time and structured time. It is okay for your to tell your child what to do at the time. You can require your child to go spend 20 minutes outside--even if they "don't want to." To see how I plan out my summer schedule, see 

In Action: Planning the Summer Schedule. See also Summer Structure for more on structure during summer months. You can also find ideas of things to do in Occupying Children During Summer.


For help in indentifying what is free play, see Free Playtime. For help in identifying structured play, see Structured Playtime

Do Not Feel Bad About Sleep
It is really common and easy to feel sorry for our children when it is time to sleep. Oh the fun they are missing! Sleep is so mean! As a society, we have really come to undervalue and even vilify sleep. Sleep is not a bad guy. Sleep isn't a mean thing to impose upon children. If you ever need to give yourself a pep talk about how it is okay and even important to have your children sleep, read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Read especially Why Have Naps?Healthy Sleep Elements and Developments, and Importance of Sleep. If you don't believe just Weissbluth, see this studyWith that said, plan in your naps and your bedtime and don't feel bad about it. 

On the flip side, it is okay to have the late night every so often or the skipped nap sometimes. See 

"Flexible-izing" a Baby for more. 


Fun Outside
Here are some simple ideas of things you can do outside during the summer. 

Go For a Walk/Bike Ride
I am amazed by how much children love to go for walks or bike rides. They really love it. This is a simple, free activity you can do without much if any pre-planning and preparation. Children of all ages enjoy it. Plan on doing a walk each day. We don't always get our walk in--other things do come up--but we enjoy it each time it happens. When you have your children walk or ride their bikes, it also gives them great exercise to help tire them out for nap and bedtime. 

Park Hop
Children love the park. The park is way fun. And what is even more fun? Playing at a new park. Find the parks in your area and try out a different park every so often. You can go to the one closest to your house for convenience, but every once in a while, mix it up with a new park. Free and easy. Again, keep it simple. The park is designed to be a fun place. You don't need to bring anything to entertain your child there. Bring some water. Bring some sunblock. Bring a chair and book for yourself. Bring lunch if you will be there over a meal (and snacks can often be a good idea). Then tell your children to play and have fun.

One thing to remember, parks aren't fun if they are in the middle of the blazing sun and it is hot outside. Plan your park trip for a cooler time of day and look for parks that offer shade. Also, splash pads can be fun in the heat. 

Things At Home
When you are doing something at home, chances are you want something that can be done quickly and with little effort. I have written a series on Simple Summer Activities. Here are some of my favorite outdoor activities from that series:
  • Fill up the kiddie pool. As you do, add bubbles to the water. This is a huge hit. 
  • Play sports outside.
  • Water table. If you don't have a water table, any bowel or container filled with water will entertain your child. You can add some measuring cups and spoons for extra intrigue. 
  • A trampoline.
  • A swing set. 
  • Scooters, bikes, trikes, plasma cars...
  • Just play. Have the children play outside and use their imaginations to have fun.
  • Play in sprinklers.
  • Water plants.
  • Wash bikes, trikes, your car, chairs...
  • Get a bunch of kids together and do tag, relay games, duck-duck goose, etc.
  • Have an outdoor movie.
  • Water fight.
  • Paint the sidewalk with ice.
Fun Inside
Even though it is summer, we can't be outside all day. It gets hot. It rains. We need a change of scenery. here are some ideas to do inside.
Other indoor ideas:
  • Learning time. You can find lots of ideas on Pinterest or here: http://learningdevelopmentactivities.blogspot.com/
  • Have theme days--for example you can have a pajama day and everyone stays in PJs all day.
  • Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)

  • Chores

  • Independent Playtime (see Independent Playtime Overview)
  • TV time
  • Video game/computer time
  • Watch a movie together. You can make this even more fun by making cars out of cardboard (though that is a lot more work)
  • Nap/rest time
  • Dance/listen to music
  • Dress up
  • Art projects
  • Bath time--make it fun! See Surviving Winter: Bath Play for ideas.


2 comments:

Stephanie said...

Great post! Do you have any ideas for indoor activities for babies/toddlers? My son is 13 mo and we need some new things to do inside, especially as we live in Texas with long hot summers!

Valerie Plowman said...

I have a post on this site "surviving bad weather"--I think it will help you with this. Your summers are like my winters--indoor :)

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