Memorial Day: Aside from the ever-important honoring those who have given their lives for our country, it typically also marks the unofficial start to summertime . . . nearing the end of the school year . . . and the approximate time when the kids — after just hours out of school — start to say, “I’M BORED.” Don’t lose your temper! Don’t lose your sanity! Just ward off the boredom with this helpful list of my top summer BOREDOM BUSTERS for kids of all ages (and maybe adults, too!)
- WATER SQUIRTERS: No pool? No problem! Cool down and have fun with buckets of water and water squirters! Depending on the mood, we set different rules — either squirting at targets like trees or frisbees on the lawn, or squirting each other! And of course my boys always follow rules . . .
- CAR WASH: Good, old-fashioned fun. Buckets of water, big sponges, soapy suds, and a hose . . . it typically turns into yelling and whining here, when one rascal “accidentally” sprays another . . . but the car gets clean, and the kids are cooled down and occupied.
- POOL PARK: Sometimes we visit the town pool, sometimes we visit neighbors’ pools, sometimes we argue with our own kids about whether we’ll ever get a pool . . . but more often, we set up multiple inflatable kiddie pools and sometimes a Slip ‘n Slide along with them, to create a pool/splash/fun park in our yard. Just be careful — wet grass is slippery! And of course supervise the kids in water, no matter their age.
- SPLASH PADS: Splash pads seem to be popping up everywhere in the past few years. Look for some in your local area. They’re great for when you have just an hour or so to kill, and you want to get wet but not soaked. It’s also good for a change of scene when the kids are getting bored of sprinklers in your yard or whichever pools they usually go to.
- RAIN! Yes, I know it sounds silly, but sometimes, nothing feels better than warm summertime rain dribbling down from the sky, rolling down your shoulders, and splashing rhythmically into puddles at your feet. And sometimes, it’s the perfect activity to say YES to, when your kids might expect you to say NO. A chance to get soaked in their clothes, impromptu, on the driveway, in a rainstorm, without umbrellas? YES, let the fun begin!
PASSING THE TIME WITH SUMMER SNACKS:
- POPSICLES: Remember how simple it is — and how yummy — to make your own popsicles? I used to do it with iced tea or lemonade or orange juice or even Coke! The hardest part is waiting for them to freeze, but you can do some of water fun activities while you wait.
- ICE CREAM TOUR: Are there any classic, fun, quaint ice cream shops in your town? Or chains like Dairy Queen or Baskin & Robbins? Make an afternoon of touring a few ice cream shops and actually letting your kids indulge in each one! I tried this with three shops last summer, and my kids kept asking, “Wait — we get to eat more ice cream now?!?!” Not the healthiest activity, but definitely a fun and delightful surprising treat! OR, just buy a bunch of sundae fixins and enjoy a make-your-own-treat day at home.
- BERRY-PICKING: Here in New England, we have lots of “pick-your-own” farms. It’s fun to spend an hour or two picking blueberries or cherries or strawberries, and then you can extend the fun by baking up a yummy treat with your fresh-picked goodies, or just enjoying a locally grown fruit salad!
- WACKY FRUIT PARTY: Speaking of fruit salad, if you’re up for a trip to a farm stand or the grocery store, have your kids each select a fruit they’ve never tried before. Bring them home and have a little fruit party where you try these new “wacky” finds. My friends and I did this once when I was in high school (yeah, that’s right, total rebels and super-cool kids) — I think that’s when I actually had kiwi and dragonfruit for the first time!
- LEMONADE STAND: No better way to pass some time, learn some business lessons, and get great refreshment! Talk to your kids about whether they plan to keep the earnings for themselves or put them toward a cause of their choice.
- OREO TASTE TEST: If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen my posts from last summer and this winter where my kids blind taste-tested five or six flavors of Oreos and had to 1) guess the flavor and 2) vote on which they liked best. Again, it’s not necessarily healthy, but it’s fun!
OTHER BOREDOM BUSTER ACTIVITIES:
- SENSORY PLAY: I love the many easy options for washing kids off in the summer (hose them down, midday bath, pool, etc.). It’s a great excuse to let them get truly messy! Let them explore their senses with mud-building games or scavenger hunts or rock-painting or making their own obstacle courses outside.
- CHALK-DRAWING: We love to make chalk-towns on our driveway, complete with bike trails, stores and restaurants we know and love, speed limit signs, playgrounds and more. Even my older boys still have fun with this, sometimes being policemen or running a gas station, collecting tolls, or racing through the path. And when the rain washes away the chalk, you get to re-imagine a whole new world to draw!
- BIKE RIDE: Don’t forget this simple, fun outing — around the block, in your neighborhood, up and down the driveway, or on a nearby bike trail.
- READING AND DISCOVERING: I admit we haven’t done this one often, because anything associated with reading during the summer makes my kids squeamish. But sometimes it’s fun to find a book or an article about a local park or landmark, learning a little about it, and then going to see it in real life. Other times, I admit, it’s not, or we focus instead on the discovery part instead of the reading, much to my dismay.
- MAKE A MINI GARDEN: We don’t have a spot in our yard allocated to gardening, but every year, I plant seedlings with my boys in pots, and we grow them on our deck. Every year, there’s a battle over the process, and invevitably the gardening tools become weapons, but once we get through the planting process, the boys have fun watering their garden, watching it grown, and eventually actually eating their crop.
- CAMPFIRE: We bought a portable fire pit a few years ago, and I wasn’t sure we’d ever use it. But we do! It’s perfect for after-dinner family-time, chatting with neighbors, and of course enjoying s’mores.
Now you’re armed with snack ideas, water-fun, and other activities to do when your kids start in with the “I’m bored” complaints in a week or so! So get comfy and have some fun with these simple and mostly inexpensive ideas. What’s on your boredom busters list?