Hey-oo, who’s ready for school to be back in session?! I’m over here raising my hand without shame, y’all. People, my children – my dear, sweet, beautiful, intelligent children-made-in-the-image-of-God – are driving me bananas. So in the interest of not screaming at them constantly (or having a total nervous breakdown), here are a few sanity-saving activities to keep the chaos to a dull roar. Surviving summer? You got this. xo
16 Things To Do With Your Kids (instead of losing your marbles)
(Or: Surviving the Last Days of Summer)
- Jump on the bed, Olympic-style. For this one, you’ll need two important things: 1) some paper or poster board to create Olympic judge score signs 2) A momentary lack of uptightness when it comes to things like jumping on the bed. THIS IS SURVIVAL, REMEMBER??
And don’t forget that you’re engendering a love of the Olympics in them. Because the Olympics are coming up FAST and are an awesome family bonding experience. Also, grab your iphone for those fun suspended-in-the-air shots. Loosen up and have fun. You can probably even get away with reading a book while sitting in the room to make sure no one breaks a bone.
I get that we modern mamas are supposed to be anti-screens and advocating unplugged lives for our offspring, but c’mon – this game gets them outside and moving around. Embrace the modern age (and your inner child) and go catch some sneaky little Pokemon (Pokemons? Pokemen? Who cares, they’re happy).
- Cool off in a kiddie pool.
DUDE. It’s hot as Satan’s armpit over here in the Deep South. Like, so hot I’ve been known to be found on top of the AC vent, curled in the fetal position and murmuring comforting phrases like “Autumn leaves” and “65 degrees and zero humidity” and “ice bath.” So if you have to be outside, and you don’t have a grown-up style pool, there is no shame in breaking out the $5 Walmart special plastic pool. Embrace it. Sit in that sucker and put your feet up (and have a drink with a little umbrella in it if that floats your boat). Even if the kiddos aren’t interested in joining you, at least you can stay cool(er) while you supervise their outdoor adventures.
- LibraryI don’t know about where you’re from, but our local library has a TON of summer programs for kids of all ages. There are Minecraft clubs, Lego clubs, movie nights, Baby Bounce, and toddler storytime; groups for music, art, technology, drama, reading and writing. Even when there’s no organized program happening, my kids LOVE to explore the kids’ level of the library while I sit and get work done. The library is an awesome wealth of experience for my kids.
- Paint outside. Just embrace the fact that a bath is happening directly after this activity. And then GO WITH IT. Encourage their creativity. Let them create epic body art. It washes off (unlike mine). 😉
Turn on the sprinkler and get MUDDY.
No explanation needed. You can sit on the porch with a mojito (or inside at the windows) to supervise this one. Or you can run through the sprinkler alongside your offspring – either way, they have a blast. Making a little mud in your grass-bare yard (own it! mine is grass-bare. I blame the scalding summer and lack of rain)…? No problem. Embrace that, too.
- Build your own superhero.If your house is anything like ours, you probably have a wide variety of (very) random costume pieces from Halloweens past, costume parties, and character-obsession phases. Put that stuff to good use and tell the kids they have 5 minutes to come up with a new superhero persona with as many costume pieces as possible. And their character needs more than just a baller superhero name – let them know you expect a full origin story and synopsis of superpowers.
- Let them make lunch.
You just have to expect a mess with this one. But what’s a little peanut butter on the countertop? With a little practice, they will at the least be able to continue making their own lunches (can I get a hurrah?!), and at best they’ll discover that they love experimenting in the kitchen. Who knows, maybe they’ll soon be asking to make dinner. Yes please!
- Teach them new life skills.
In the vein of making their own lunches, try teaching them a few skills that they’ll need when they’re on their own. This one is hard for me, because I kind of like things JUST SO, and my children just DO NOT GET THAT. Ahem. Deep breaths. So maybe take the delicates out of the laundry before you let them wash a load solo, and put away the crystal vase your grandmother handed down to you before you let them dust. But get them started in the rhythm of caring for their surroundings. Start them young, and they will thrive when it’s time to get out on their own.
- Dance party
This one has added benefits – there’s cardio involved, which burns fat and calories, AND boosts your mood. So use this liberally throughout your day. Crank the music and get moving!
- Write a story.
Write a story together – line by line – without knowing what came before. Obviously, this one works best with older kids who can write – but you can adapt it for the littles in your life by having them team up with an adult. Directions: grab a blank sheet of paper. The first person (or team) writes the opening line (“Once upon a time, there lived_______” as an example), then folds the paper over their contribution to hide it. The next person writes the next sentence(s) without reading the opener. Keep going until the paper is full, then unfold and read your soon-to-be award-winning creation.
- Grow something. You’ll need a few pots or containers, a bag of soil, and something to grow (seeds or ready-to-plant flowers, depending on how patient you want to be to see results). Definitely do this outside in order to avoid some catastrophic messes. Bonus points if you show your kids how and let them do it themselves without intervening. Kids lose interest when they’re not actually experiencing the activity.
Family movie night with a series
Depending on the ages and personalities of your children, you might be able to introduce them to movies that YOU actually enjoy too! This summer, we’ve been watching through the Bourne movies (Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, etc), and it’s been so fun. Popcorn, snuggles, and cliffhangers (also interesting to note: that series is so much better when watched back to back. McGee and I have been enjoying it way more this time around than we did by watching them as they were released). We’ve been having great discussions about good vs. evil, and how it’s rarely clearly dileneated. It’s been both fun and meaningful for us.
This one seems super obvious, and to parents of really young children, it comes naturally. But as your kids get older and start reading on their own, sometimes you (ME) forget the power of reading aloud together. In need of some quiet bonding time? Pick out a great series (Narnian Chronicles, Harry Potter – whatever you enjoy), and read a chapter or two aloud together every day. This one works great on car trips, too.
- Angry Birds.
This one is crazy-fun, emphasis on the crazy. Bear with me while I overshare about my own insanity, won’t you? So this one time, I was at my wits’ end and needing to get my kids off screens. I wanted to channel some of their energy and have some bonding time that everyone would enjoy, but it was way too hot to go outside. Hence was born the idea of real life Angry Birds. McGee and I sent the kids to their room for a few minutes while we set up, and in their absence turned the living room into a scene from their Angry Birds game. We were the pigs, wearing bicycle helmets and barricaded behind various couch cushions or furniture. We provided them each with a laundry basket full of small stuffed animals with which to toss at us. Each of us had a certain number of hits required to defeat us. OMG I cannot tell you how wild and fun this game is. It’s become a staple around here. (pro tip: remove all valuables and lamps from the play space before letting fly your ammo). Also I have no pictures of this particular activity, as I’m always involved in it. 🙂
- Cardboard box adventures. I’m sure you know this, whether you’re a parent or not. Most of us discover the magic of cardboard boxes early in life, but you may have forgotten along the way. Few things engender creativity and imagination like a giant, basic cardboard box. If you’re low on supplies, swing by a grocery store or big box store like Target or Best Buy and ask for a few. Each box contains HOURS of fun.
Guys, you can do this!! Only a few more weeks of summer! xoxoxoxo
Emily Lapish is a full-time photographer, wife, mom, and crazy person. She likes long walks through Target while cradling a latte. She is fueled by passion for restoration, grace, and also by obscene amounts of coffee.