Think back to your own childhood—we'd guess you have strong feelings, emotions and memories attached to the summer months. For little ones, it's a carefree time without the structure and responsibilities of school, where days are often filled with outdoor play, summer-themed snacks and a whole lotta adventures.
Obviously barbecuing and time spent by the pool will always be a kid and family favorite, but we wanted to dive deeper to include a few ways to mix up the fun this summer and spend more time together as a family during the longer, warmer days.
Nothing will ever replace the annual trip to the lake, but who says you need to load up the car or RV and drive for hours to have a memorable summertime adventure?
A backyard campout requires no reservation (besides letting your kids "reserve" their own spot for their tent in the yard), comes with the added convenience of being steps away from the fridge and bathroom and will give your outdoor space a whole new meaning to your little ones. Turn off the outdoor lights for a better view of the stars, make smores by the fire pit and take turns telling ghost stories or singing songs.
Don't have a backyard? Don't worry! A living room campout can be just as special, complete with pillow forts and camp-favorite movies like Heavy Weights or The Parent Trap.
Evening Walks (After Dinner)
There's nothing like a cool summer evening after a long, hot day. Gather the kids (and your furry friend, of course) after dinner for a casual walk around the neighborhood. Say hi to the neighbors, play I spy or the alphabet game to help them notice trends and patterns around them and look out for local flora and fauna also finding relief in the cooler evening weather.
To help encourage your little ones, let them pick the route you take, and have them explain why they chose it.
Once the peak heat hours of the day are in the rearview mirror, evening pick-up games are a fun way to exercise and learn how to work and play together as a team! Gather the kids and your kids' friends and families and head to the park or local open space for a game of tee-ball, kickball, freeze tag--you name it!
Start a group text with other families in your area to coordinate a time and place (and who's bringing the gear), and take turns picking different sports or games each week. Remember, it's about healthy competition, inclusion and most importantly, having fun.
No matter where you live, hiking is an activity most families can enjoy together regardless of each individual's fitness level. It requires little gear besides a bit of preparation (water, snacks, sun protection and proper clothes and footwear), and can be as relaxed or as strenuous as you and your kids would like. Resources like AllTrails are a great tool for finding hikes in your area, and they generally include the mileage, a map of the route and a brief description of things to look out for.
Just remember, it's always fun on your way out, but make sure your little ones save enough energy for the return journey (or it could be a long road back).
Gathering for outdoor meals as a family is a hallmark of the summer months. We mentioned barbecuing already, but there's more to outdoor dining than grilling up a meal and making smores. Eating together outside in the fresh summer air doesn't have to be a big ordeal. It can be anything from simply enjoying homemade popsicles or fresh watermelon together for a snack on the porch to a fully prepared meal with the grandparents on the patio. Or now that COVID restrictions are lifting around certain parts of the country, it's possible to once again visit your local farmer's market, outdoor food trucks or sit outside at your family's favorite restaurant.
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